Question: “How do you stop second-guessing yourself after years of second-guessing everything because otherwise the sky would fall or some horrific scene would unfold?”
Several years ago in one of my employee reviews with my then-boss/pastor, he told me that I had a tendency to make a quick decision, then totally second-guess myself and back-pedal, sometimes even having to undo work I had spent important time on.
I have a theory why I did this. Living in a difficult relationship left me not knowing myself well. I had a hard time reading other people. I didn’t trust myself or others. So, I would either be paralyzed in my decision-making or I’d swing to the other end of the spectrum and rush into things, only to make some big messes.
When your primary relationship is tenuous, it can leave you feeling off-balance. But here’s the thing…you typically don’t realize how off-balance you were feeling until there’s been some distance between you and the unhealthy relationship. I didn’t know how bad things were for so very long; I didn’t know if I were coming or going half the time. I’d think I knew my reality only to find that my reality was completely different than my perception. Talk about throwing someone off their game. My instincts were squelched at every turn. I’d think something was a little fishy and I’d be told everything was fine. Or perhaps worse were the stretches when I thought things were turning around for the better only to wake up with a jolt that, no, they definitely were not better, things were definitely not as they seemed.
There is good news, though, for those of us who need to reclaim our common sense. I Corinthians 2:16b says that for those of us in a relationship with Jesus, “we have the mind of Christ.” We can regain what was once lost. In fact, it can come back to us stronger than ever. I have been amazed to step aside and watch myself handle things that once would’ve sent me over the edge with a newfound steadiness. Not every time, mind you, but I’m definitely getting better at this.
Here are some practicals:
Pray. God promises to give wisdom to those who ask for it. He doesn’t want us walking around making stupid or careless decisions. He wants us to be wise.
Call in back-up. If I’ve got a big decision or just trying to figure something out, I almost always talk to a friend or two. This is not a sign of weakness. Proverbs talks a lot about the wisdom of many counselors. It’s a great way to make sure that what you’re thinking and how you’re getting to a decision is clear and makes sense.
Don’t rush. Most decisions don’t need to be made on the spot. So take your time. Write out some pros and cons. One of my favorite tools is what’s called trying on a decision. Say I’m choosing whether to allow my daughter to go to an overnighter with some friends I don’t know. I try on the decision of saying yes to her. How does it make me feel? Is there peace or an uneasiness? Then I try on the decision of saying no to her. Does that decision feel better to me?
Pull the trigger. You’re just going to have to start making decisions. It’s sort of like the only way to get credit is to have credit. The only way to build your decision-making muscle is to make some decisions.
Evaluate. How did the decision-making process feel for you? What would you keep for next time, what will you change? How did the actual decision turn out? Really, usually the worst that can happen is you find out you were wrong, and then you can use that as experience for the next time.
Keep in mind also what II Peter 1:3a says, “His divine power has given us everything we need for life and godliness through our knowledge of him….” We’ve already got what we need…we just need to ask.
If this post encouraged you, you would benefit from “Unraveling: Hanging onto Faith through the End of a Christian Marriage”, found here or “Living through Divorce as a Christian Woman”, found here.