One to One Coaching

I offer free 30 minute telephone/Skype consultations for people wanting to find out more about coaching on the 'baby decision'. Email me at mailto:beth@ticktockcoaching.co.uk and assistant Laura will respond and arrange an appointment with you. Visit http://www.ticktockcoaching.co.uk/ for more information about my coaching services.

Tuesday, 11 July 2017

Decidophobia: Are you afraid of making the wrong decision?

Princeton University philosopher Walter Kaufmann in his book Without Guilt and Justice looked at the fear that many people have of making decision.  Written in the 1970's Kaufmann coined the term 'decidophobia' to describe the fear some of us have of even making the smallest of decision.

I only recently discovered Kaufmann's work through this Forbes article which mentions him in passing in this article Overcome the Fear of Making Decisions.  I was drawn to him as he articulates one of the key reasons I've thought that many of my clients get stuck around the baby decision.   That is being stuck because of fear of making the wrong choice.  Many clients have said to me that if they didn't have a choice - for example if they either found that they were pregnant by accident OR that they were infertile and couldn't have children, they would feel a sense of relief as the decision would have been made for them.  As Kaufmann states in the paragraph below, the guilt and fear that comes from making the 'wrong' decision can often feel overwhelming.

Humanity craves but dreads autonomy. One does not want to live under the yoke of guilt and fear. Autonomy consists of making with open eyes the decisions that give shape to one’s life. But being afraid of making fateful decisions, one is tempted to hide autonomy in a metaphysical fog and to become sidetracked and bogged down in puzzles about free will and determinism. It is far easier to define autonomy out of existence than it is to achieve autonomy in the very meaningful sense in which it can be attained. The difference between making the decisions that govern our lives with our eyes open and somehow avoiding this is all-important. 

I love how he describes the paradox between us as humans wanting and asserting our autonomy while at the same time fearing it. What we are fearing is the enormous responsibility that autonomy gives us.   In an article I was quoted in about 10 years ago in the Economist called The Tyranny of Choice

We've grown up with a lot more choice than our mothers or grandmothers; for them, being child-free wasn't a choice, it was pitied,” says Beth Follini, an American life coach who specialises in the “maybe baby” dilemma. “The anxiety comes from worrying about making the wrong choice.” Having options seems to make people think they can have control over outcomes too. Sometimes, says Ms Follini, choosing is about learning to live without control.

How can we overcome this fear? One way is through looking at and addressing this self-sabotaging fear head on. When I work with a client who has an overwhelming fear of making the decision, we often look at what their saboteur or inner critic is saying.  Often, the client might have a very perfectionist saboteur and a belief that they must know, that they must have knowledge that theirs is the 'perfect' decision - the right one.   When clients can begin to reduce the power of this saboteur, then clients find that the overwhelming pressure begins to lift and they can begin to trust themselves to know that they can move forward and make the baby decision.


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