Is it difficult for you to make decisions? Do you avoid life because the big decisions are too hard to make? Do you let things or other people make decisions for you?
Somewhere along the line, a person who is dependent on others has lost their certainty. They may say “I used to be a stronger person”. But that confidence about their own mind was taken away by the abusive marriage, by the all-consuming relationship with a parent, or by some other codependency.
What actually happened to make us lose confidence in our own ability to think? One or more of these:
• We’ve been lied to. For a while, we believed the lies. When we found out the truth, then we thought we could no longer trust ourselves because we didn’t recognize the lies in the first place. Nevermind that the person who lied was trying to hide the truth!
• We lie to ourselves. We tell ourselves that we can’t make decisions. See below for examples of lies.
• Too many problems came upon us at the same time. That led to ‘bad’ decisions and decision paralysis.
• We have low self-esteem. If you are constantly telling calling yourself stupid, doubting that you can make a decision, and setting heavy expectations on yourself, then decisions will be very hard to make.
• We repressed emotions. If there are many inner childhood wounds that have not been resolved, all that panic, anxiety, and grief will occupy most of your mind.
Beliefs about Others
You might find it difficult to decide if you have false beliefs about others, specifically if you are worrying if they will judge you, if you fear you might fail others, if you think you have to be perfect, and if you think there’s a deadline for the decision. You might also worry that there is no going back after you decide. Our imagination leads to excess thinking and worry which leads to paralysis or delay.
Another cause of doubt is real external pressure. They are relatives or parents who constantly said we were too young, too stupid, too inexperienced. We lived with constant criticism. They ignored our observations and our suggestions. Or perhaps they are spouses who are addicts or narcissists, but feel the need to tell us we are “crazy”, “lazy”, or something similarly demeaning. Living with such people can contribute to your thinking fog.
Your experience with school may have been difficult. Due to the complexities of the learning process, about 5-10% students in every classroom are not “wired” the same as everyone else. This has only been recognized in the last few decades in American schools. The movement to find and accommodate these students has spread slowly, too slowly, leaving thousands to believe that their brains are not right, not good enough, and leading them to give up on themselves.
Struggling with certain aspects of reading or math does not mean that a person is NOT intelligent. In psychology, there are theories of intelligence that say that there are at least 60 to 70 kinds of intelligence. So a lack of skill in one area is most certainly set off by talent and strength in other areas. It is up to you to recognize that about yourself.
What Is Reality?
The reality is that we CAN do this. If we look at the totality of our lives, we find proof that our brains do work. We can take information, choose a position, and be rational. We can even correct ourselves when our thoughts go off to one extreme or the other. If we misbehave, we can also correct that. We see our problems and find solutions. We feel the normal stress and frustration of the decision making process, and we still can come to a decision.
Is every decision going to be final? No, especially for us codependents. Our way of getting to our final destination is to take two steps forwards and one step back. When it comes to relationships with people, we leave and come back and leave again. The process is compounded by the fact that there is another person involved who also does this. In other issues, we may decide to do one thing then switch at the last minute. But that’s OK. That’s how we live life, and it’s not the “wrong” way to live.
Advice For Trusting Your Mind More
1. Find Peace
See our previous articles on self-care. Finding that place of peace and contentment is possible with detachment, gratitude, and inner child work. You may have had horrifying and strong feelings. You may have had irrational fantasies. It’s OK. These are feelings that you should allow to pass through you. When they are fully felt, then you will be free to decide what to do. Repressing the energy just makes it worse.
2. Ask God For Help
There is very clear guidance on the “istikhara” prayer to say for asking for help with decisions.
I consult You as You are all Knowing,
and I seek ability from Your power and I ask you for Your great favor,
for You have power,
but I do not,
and You have knowledge,
but I do not,
and You know all hidden matters.
If You know that this matter [mention it specifically here] is good for me in my religion,
my livelihood and my life in the Hereafter,
then make it easy and bless it;
and if You know that this matter is evil for me in my religion,
my livelihood and my life in the Hereafter,
then keep it away from me and keep me away from it,
and choose what is good for me wherever it is,
and make me pleased with it.
3. Positive Affirmations
This is part of the recovery process for codependent thinking, but it deserves its own heading. Constantly feeding your mind with good thoughts is so important to stopping that critical parent voice. It’s like vaccinating yourself against the bad things that the critical voice always says, such as “I’m not really that smart”.
4. Feed Your Mind
Give your mind two kinds of information. First, become educated on the issues that are bothering you. Research whatever your problem is. Eventually, your brain will process it all and make a good decision.
Secondly, learn to focus on things not people. Look at the latest news, trends, books, and so on. Open your eyes to what is in the world. See our article on exploring your passions and goals. Take a class you’ve always wanted, go outside, and learn something new.
Now that you know how to activate your mind, use it! Express those opinions that you have been keeping inside. Take back the power that you have given away, and start making your own decisions about your time, your resources, your body, and your energy. Is there someone who has been telling you that you can’t make decisions? How does that make you feel? Who has been making decisions for you? Don’t act like a victim anymore by letting someone else rule your life. Finally, let others be adults too by not making decisions for them, and you will find that they will be able to grow and mature as well.
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The Love Tip – for further tips on this topic
Wise Words – the first of our quote series for the week
Inspiration – a story to increase your faith and motivation
Book Recommendation – a summary of the most helpful book on this topic
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Note From The Editor – how this applies to my life
Jehan founded this magazine and site to help Muslim women and men learn to stay away from abusers, to strengthen their relationship with Allah SWT and to find better healthier relationships.