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5 Smart Steps for Overcoming Indecision and Anxiety

5 Smart Steps for Overcoming Indecision and Anxiety

Has God led you to make a decision – about an idea or a direction He’s put on your heart – but you’ve felt frozen by what is the best choice?

I had been struggling. I couldn’t decide the next book I wanted to write. And It wasn’t because I didn’t have any ideas. It was because I had too many choices. I felt overwhelmed.

Which is the right one? What if I pick the wrong one?

I found myself paralyzed, blanking out, unable to see the forest from the trees. Sometimes, every idea seemed inspired and filled with possibilities. Other times, every idea seemed bad, wrong and boring. I analyzed all the possible outcomes of one choice over the other -- until all the branches of my decision-making tree ended in a gazillion what-ifs.

My heart locked up with one continuously looping phrase: I don't know what to do.

Have you found yourself in a similar situation -- not because you're uninspired -- but because you are so inspired to pursue what God's put on your heart, you're overwhelmed with the next steps?

Or, have you find yourself surrounded by too many choices and you feel paralyzed or even depressed -- because nothing seems clear, even though you've analyzed it to death?

I realized I needed to reinvigorate my heart by following God into the unknown by faith, rather than staying stuck, trying to make the best choice and guarantee safety.

I'm learning that the phrase "I don't know what to do" triggers me to feel alone, confused and afraid.

“I don’t know what to do” can often bring us back to painful times in our past – when we’ve had to figure things out for ourselves, when we were stuck in double binds (dilemmas that had no-win solutions), or when the safest route was to give up on our dreams. On ourselves.

I had wrongly learned that the only way to survive was to live by a plan instead of my heart.Living by my plan is not good for the heart, because it disables us from hearing God's voice.

Creating actionable next steps to get something done is an actionable plan. But when we analyze our decisions to try to obtain a fail-safe result, we are putting our faith and hope in a plan, instead of a Person: Jesus. Putting our hope and faith in a plan is anguish for the soul. It leads to choice overload. Inaction. As people of faith, we follow a Person, not a plan. 

When we respond to God's inspiration by trying to eliminate the risks and unknowns -- instead of moving as we're prompted -- we suddenly lose our curiosity and our joy.

So, how can we break out of indecision?

5 Ways To Move Forward

1) Be Kind to Yourself

Acknowledge that the depressed and paralyzed response you feel is really the child in you who wants to be free. Be kind to yourself. Encourage yourself when you feel stuck. Turn to God and tell him your troubles, instead of making yourself feel bad for feeling bad.

When I take responsibility off myself to figure out how things will work, the depression and paralysis lifts from my heart. The flame of inspiration starts to flicker within me again. And I remember what I was excited about!

“For this reason I remind you to kindle afresh the gift of God which is in you” 1 Tim 1:6 

2) Leave the Results to God

I hear so many critical voices when I'm about to make a decision.

That one book was a fluke... You're not legit... Don't embarrass yourself. No one wants to hear what you have to say... on and on.

“Seeking the perfect choice is a recipe for misery,” Professor Barry Schwartz said in his book Paradox of Choice. As I read, I realized the spiritual implications.

I kept looking for the best choice. But, what if God is longing to take us on a journey, not for us to succeed, but to be changed -- because He is with us? Do I trust that God will really take care of me?

"Many are the plans in a person's heart, but it is the Lord's purpose that prevails." Prov. 19:21

3) Talk It Over With a Friend

Tell a friend about your troubled decision right now, not after you've got everything figured out. My default reaction to indecision is to withdraw. I don’t want to talk until I've figured things out. Now, I force myself to call up someone. We’ll go out for coffee and I’ll share my in-progress journey. 

"Share each other's burdens, and in this way fulfill the law of Christ." Gal 6:3

4) Spend Time Meditating on Jesus and Your Friendship with Him

Best friends are for each other. I've been meditating on Jesus calling me friend, taking walks with him, and sharing my heart and hard questions.

When we compare choices, we often compare ourselves with other people’s expectations. We lose touch with God’s voice as well as our own. As our conversation with God flows, we remember what we’ve been feeling inspired to do.

"I no longer call you servants, because a servant does not know his master's business. Instead, I have called you friends, for everything that I learned from my Father I have made known to you." John 15:5

5) Don't Over-Think. Don't Analyze. Just Do.

Whatever God's prompting you to do, do it right now. Let go of trying to figure out what's next. Do it because you are the beloved.

"There is no fear in love. But perfect love drives out fear, because fear has to do with punishment." 1 John 4:18

This is why I decided to choose one book idea to move forward with and write. What will happen next? I don't know. But, I'd rather make mistakes and live this life fully with Jesus and the kindness of kindreds, than hide my heart and never know what love is.

I'm doing it because I am God's beloved. And so are you. Let go of what holds you and let God hold you instead. And that’s all we need to know.

What’s a decision you've been agonizing over? How is God asking you to trust him with your heart?

Bonnie Gray is author of Finding Spiritual Whitespace: Awakening Your Soul To Rest, a featured contributor at (in)courage and her writing is nationally syndicated, spotlighted by Relevant MagazineCatalyst Leadership,Today's Christian Woman, and Christianity Today. Bonnie serves up shots of faith for the daily grind on her blog Faith Barista.com