5 Ways Anxiety Impacts Our Decision-Making Skills


The physical and mental symptoms of anxiety can affect every area of your life.

Your performance at work or in school may suffer. You might struggle to maintain healthy relationships with your family and friends. And you may find it hard to stick to consistent daily routines.

No matter how your anxiety manifests, you probably find that simply trying to “think positive” doesn’t alleviate it.

In fact, anxiety can affect your whole thought and decision-making process. It may feel like a roadblock to making any choices, leaving you second-guessing everything you think you want. And when you’re put in a position where you’re forced to make a choice, you can actually feel trapped.

How can that happen?

Here are some of the ways anxiety can impact your decision-making skills.

1. Trying to Avoid Making Decisions

When you struggle with anxiety, you may try your best to avoid making decisions altogether. Having to make any choice can feel like you’re under a serious amount of pressure.

Even if you actually do know what you want to do, you might be hesitant to commit to it, ruminating on all the ways the other choices might be somehow better. Instead, you may try to offload the decision to someone else and simply go along with what they say. It’s less anxiety-inducing than accepting the responsibility yourself but, in the long run, can result in resentment.

2. Delaying Decision-Making

If you have anxiety, you might have a sneaky strategy for avoiding decision-making: putting it off for as long as possible, in hopes that time will somehow decide for you. You may feel that, if you ignore that choices put in front of you for long enough, you’ll either eventually be told what to do or certain options will no longer be available, which feels like less of a burden.

If circumstances push you in a certain direction, you’ll just accept what comes your way. You’d almost rather do that than be forced to make a choice on your own.

3. Struggling with Persistent Self-Doubt

Why is making a decision so difficult for people with anxiety? Because self-doubt undermines your mindset. Every time you think that you’ve figured out what you want to do, negative thoughts rear their ugly heads and make you wonder if you’re really certain of what you want to do.

You waffle back and forth from one option to another, wishing that the choice was clear. When you think you’ve finally settled on something, you sigh and start feeling like you can’t actually trust yourself.

4. Relying on Input From Others

When you’re grappling with anxiety, but you have an important decision that you can’t get out of making, you might turn to other people in hopes that they will essentially make the decision for you.

You may ask your friends and family for their input on your situation. But when they try to encourage you to go in a certain direction, you’ll feel compelled to reply with all of the reasons why it won’t work. Even when they try their best to help you, you’re not inclined to accept it because you can’t help but question their advice until it seems useless to do so.

5. Stressing Over Choices You’ve Already Made

Have you finally managed to make an important decision in spite of your anxiety? Unfortunately, the battle isn’t over yet. When you deal with anxiety, you will often end up stressing out over choices that have already been made. The decision might be set in stone, but after a moment of relief, you may feel nervous all over again as if you can relitigate.

What if you made the wrong choice? What if you’re about to deal with consequences you didn’t anticipate? Sometimes, it feels like the decision-making process is never really over because, even once you’ve chosen, you still feel anxious about your choice and all of the unanticipated potentials for disaster up ahead.

Is anxiety plaguing your decision-making process? Counseling for anxiety can help. Contact me today to see how we can work together to eliminate your anxiety.