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Frozen by the Fear of Wrong Decisions

By Dwight Bain,
Nationally Certified Counselor and Certified Life Coach

CBN.comOne of my favorite sayings to share with people facing a major decision is "you always have options." Yet in challenging times people are often so frozen by fear from making a wrong decision that they don't make a decision at all and life passes them by. Think of how many events in life are complicated or missed completely because of the roadblock of being afraid to fail by making a decision and then making that decision work…

  • Marriages that didn't happen because of a shy guy with cold feet
  • Promotions that never occurred because of the fear of asking for it
  • Scholarships left on a table somewhere because someone was afraid to fill out the paperwork
  • Trips to exotic places that were always talked about but never taken because no one sat down to schedule it
  • Relationships that failed because someone didn't decide to work on issues and quietly let things 'slip, slide away'
  • Forgiveness that was never granted because someone never got past the fear of saying that they were sorry

I've noticed that people will fit into one of the following levels when facing a major decision. Think about where you are in the process.


Level 1 - Go Numb and Do Nothing
This level is where an individual is so paralyzed by fear that they can't take action and may experience major signs or symptoms of distress. When someone feels numb inside, they often describe their life as being in a 'fog' and often crash in the process. This may be the most dangerous level of all.

Level 2 - Passive Pleasing
This level is about pleasing others in a very non-assertive way. The people pleaser personality is passively trying to avoid a conflict, yet often their quietness of not dealing with issues is covering up an emotional explosion that can erupt at any time. This person looks quiet and pleasant on the outside, yet often is irritated and frustrated on the inside.

Level 3 - Mediocrity in the Middle of the Road
When people are trying to be politically correct, they often will just sit in the middle of the road on an issue. Are they conservative or liberal? Do they see things as white or black? You never know because this person refuses to take a stand - often because they either don't care about the situation to have an opinion about it, or are afraid to say it. The risk of sitting in the middle of the road is that you will eventually be run over by a more direct personality who knows where they are going.

Level 4 - Active and Assertive Expression
If you know what you believe and are able to express it, then you are in a situation of active and assertive expression. People know where you stand because you tell them, instead of trying to hint around for them to read your mind. This level may lead to some hurt feelings on occasion, but those are soon forgotten because positive action eventually leads to positive results.

Level 5 - Energetic - Do It All with Enthusiasm
This level is a joy to watch develop in a person's life when facing a major decision. They KNOW that it's the right person to marry, or the right college to attend, or the best time to move on to a better career. There is such a degree of personal power in energetic decision makers that people just want to be around them to gain insight and strength to face the decisions they need to make in their own lives with more confidence. Everyone loves to be around level 5 decision makers because even if the things that need to change aren't pleasant, this individual is able to communicate in such a way that it is just natural to follow their lead.

As you think through the five levels of decision making, I hope you saw most of your personal or professional life in either level 4 or 5, because that is where the action is. You can't get results if you are frozen by the fear of being indecisive. Life is changing fast, and you must be focused on how to rapidly change with it if you want to be more successful.

Here is a LifeWorks Group exercise designed to coach you through the decision process. Hopefully you can use it today to rapidly sort through your options to come up with a rock solid decision and build a better future.  So take out your legal pad, or map it out in an e-mail to review with a coach, mentor, or friend as you move from being frozen by fear to growing forward in greater faith because you have mastered the secrets to making right decisions.  


  • Define a particular problem, question, or choice you are currently struggling with
  • List your options for resolving the question or choice
  • Write the possible outcomes for each option, both short term and long term
  • Write the benefits or risks of each option
  • Determine which option corresponds most closely with your overall values and goals
  • Determine which option is the healthiest choice for all involved
  • Is this a decision you can commit to for a specified period of time, and if so how long?
  • Talk with a supportive/trusted person about the options and write down useful suggestions.  (It may be tempting to skip this step, but this is one of the most valuable parts of gaining an objective perspective and to 'test' your ideas before you put them into practice).

Reprinted with permission from the LifeWorks Group, eNews (Copyright, 2004-2008, by the LifeWorks Group in Florida. 407-647-7005).

Dwight BainDwight Bain is dedicated to helping people achieve greater results. He is a Nationally Certified Counselor, Certified Life Coach, and Certified Family Law Mediator in practice since 1984 with a primary focus on solving crisis events and managing major change. He is a member of the National Speakers Association and partners with media, major corporations, and non-profit organizations to make a positive difference in our culture. Access more counseling and coaching resources designed to save you time by solving stressful situations by visiting his counseling blog with over 150 complimentary articles and special reports at


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