Fear of Commitment: How to Stop Hesitating and Make a Choice

Dictionary Series - Attributes: commitmentThis blog post was written by Recovery Help Now’s, Leslie Kolb, MSW, ASW.

We’ve talked a lot this month about how to manage fear and move through it in order to be productive. Sometimes, when we find ourselves facing complicated situations, we can feel indecisive, confused, or even stuck. In those instances, fear can rear its ugly head and keep us stagnating for much longer than we have to be. When this happens, it is important to acknowledge feeling stuck and then take steps to build your momentum back up.

In order to push through the fear and move forward, as always, we must identify what exactly we are afraid of. Ask yourself, what is it that you’re afraid of? Deep down, what do you think is holding you back? For example, have you ever found yourself in a relationship that is not really working but that is “good enough?” Your comfort level is high, so even though it isn’t everything you want, you stay. When a decision is not clear cut, sometimes it feels easier to just stick with what we know. Fear of the unknown can be paralyzing. What if I never meet someone else? What if I am alone the rest of my life? What if…? These are fears manifested into thoughts. Once you can identify them, you can find ways to push through them.

Next, weigh your options. You may have already been doing this throughout the process, but once you’ve identified what scares you, some of your options might carry a different weight than they did before. Using our example, does the thought of being in a mediocre relationship for the rest of your life now scare you more than the risk of being alone for a while as you search for something more fulfilling? As you recognize the fears that control and paralyze you, like being alone, you can reframe the way you look at the idea of being alone. If one option becomes the clear winner, it can be easier to then make your decision.

If, however, at this point you still feel indecisive, try being mindful. Mindfulness takes practice, but taking even just a short time out for meditation or simple quiet breathing each day can attune you with your intuition. Quiet your thoughts. Listen to your body. If you let it, your body can tell you all you need to know. Do your muscles tense up each time you are around a certain person? Do you get a headache during certain meetings at work? Oftentimes our bodies react even if we are mentally unaware of why, because we are too busy living our lives to slow down and pay attention to our feelings. If you begin practicing paying attention, being mindful, you might find clarity about a decision you’ve been weighing.

As you grow nearer to being able to make a decision, it might be important to pay attention to see if you are experiencing one fear that is not commonly discussed: fear of making a mistake. This fear can directly affect decisiveness, but one way to combat it is to lean into the fear and radically accept that mistakes happen. Try to reframe it for yourself by considering that something you might see as a mistake could lead to something else you never imagined. Life is about the proverbial journey, not the destination. The choices you make can lead you in new, unexpected directions; even if you feel like you made the wrong decision in the moment, it can lead to an adventure down the road.

When you feel mired in confusion and scared to commit to a choice, just remember that without fear, you have no chance to be courageous. Give yourself credit for being courageous and moving forward through your fears. Without a doubt, life choices can be difficult to make, but if you can identify the fears that hold you back and be mindful of what you truly want, you will find a way to make tough decisions seem like no-brainers. In honor of Halloween this week, consider what it is that scares you. Is your fear holding you back? You never know—identifying your fear could be the first step in gaining momentum you didn’t know you could have.




Elana Clark-Faler
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