What Does ‘Indecisive’ Mean?

Indecisiveness is a common personality trait possessed by many people, and can often hinder people from attempting activities, making plans, or purchasing new items.

What Does ‘Indecisive’ Mean?

But what exactly does ‘indecisive’ mean, and what efforts can be taken to overcome ‘indecision’?

What Does It Mean? 

The term ‘indecisive’ literally means ‘inability to make decisions quickly or effectively’, and is a trait that is possessed by countless people around the world. 

While not a problem in most cases, there can be times when indecisiveness can be a problem for the sufferer, and those around them. 

What Causes Indecisiveness? 

There can be many causes of indecisiveness, depending on the severity of the personality trait, and the situation at hand. 

Fear Of Responsibility

While most decisions we make don’t have life altering consequences, they can still impact on the kind of day we have, or the feelings we experience as a result. 

With decision making comes a sense of personal responsibility, which makes us responsible for how we feel and what we experience, thus leaving only ourselves to blame when something goes wrong.

With this can come a sense of anxiety for some people, which can then lead to indecisiveness – particularly when it comes to seemingly important decisions. 

Too Many Choices

In modern times, the amount of choice we have over even the basic things is staggering, and so it is no surprise that indecisiveness is more rife than ever before. 

Even with something as simple as which soda to buy can make a previously simple decision into something that takes consideration – especially if the person is prone to indecisiveness. 

Social Consequences

The advent of the internet (and particularly social media) has created a scenario where making the wrong decision (be it in terms of words or actions) can lead to widespread social consequences that aren’t easily forgotten. 

For example, if someone doesn’t carefully consider their wording of a tweet, and people get offended, the poster could suffer social consequences, verbal abuse, criticism, or ridicule for what ultimately amounts to a simple case of poor communication. 

This can make people withdraw socially, and avoid expressing opinions (or in turn, making decisions) in public forums. 

People Pleasing

Depending on how the individual was raised, they might have a need to please people.

This manifests itself, generally, as a result of having difficult or demanding parents who are hard to please – leading to the individual living their life (and making choices) that they believe their parents will approve of. 

This is often the case when it comes to choosing careers, romantic partners, or more simple things like clothing, hairstyles, and decor styles. 


Somewhat similar to the ‘fear of responsibility’, many people are also afraid of failing – even if this failure is small and inconsequential. 

Taking responsibility for a decision, and then discovering you have not made the right choice, can ultimately lead to a feeling of failure, which might encourage more indecisive behavior in the future. 

We also live in a pretty perfectionist society, wherein failure is ridiculed or punished – leading to indecisive people worrying and fretting over even the simplest choices. 

Problems Associated With Indecisiveness

Problems Associated With Indecisiveness

While not often dangerous or damaging, indecisiveness can make life difficult or stressful for the person in question, and for those around them. 


In the worst case scenario, indecisiveness can manifest itself into something entirely more pathological – a condition known as aboulomania. 

This is often linked to anxiety, depression, and stress, aboulomania is a mental illness that can seriously affect the way the sufferer, and leads to serious decline in the quality of said life. 

While some scientists believe that the development of this behavior stems from a problem with the prefrontal cortex, many have reached the conclusion that it is a result of nurture rather than nature – particularly with children who had overprotective parents, and who grow up with an instilled dependency on their parents to make decisions for them. 

How To Become More Decisive 

There are of course many ways that an indecisive person can become more decisive. This might not happen overnight, but with practice and determination, sufferers can take small steps towards the life they want to live.

Practice Makes Perfect

Changing any behavioral trait takes time and practice. Rome wasn’t built in a day, and any major change requires baby steps if you are to properly accomplish what you want. 

Try making small decisions as often as possible. This could be as simple as what soda to buy, what to have for your lunch, or what movie you would like to watch.

After time, gradually increase the frequency of the decision making, and raise the stakes by attempting more important decisions with an open mind. 

Face Your Fears

Facing your fears is the best way to get over a phobia, especially when you see that the consequences for making the wrong decision are generally minor or non existent. 

This will really help to improve the whole process for you, and over time it will make decision making easier. 

Learn From Mistakes

The most important thing when making decisions is to accept that choosing wrong is not ‘failure’, instead taking it on board as a lesson for future decision making. 

Each choice we make is an experience, and the more decisions we make, the more we learn about the world, ourselves, and the realistic, minor consequences that simple decisions may have. 

This will help to avoid over-catastrophizing every single choice that is made, and will help create a sense of perspective. 

Final Thoughts

And there we have it, everything you need to know about what ‘indecisive’ means, and the ways that indecision can negatively affect our lives. 

Despite being commonplace, indecision can negatively affect people’s lives, which is why it is important to acknowledge your fears, approach them willingly, and take note of lessons that life throws our way. 

Remember, practice makes perfect!

Ben Easter
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