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Tips for Taking a Step Back to Make Supportive Decisions

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When we’re in a situation, we’re in it. Which means it can be hard to make a decision. Because we’re simply too close to it. We also might be telling ourselves all sorts of stories. I don’t know what I deserve. Am I even worthy of this? I suck at making good decisions. There’s too many options! I’m terrible at this! I’ve always been so indecisive. I’ll probably pick the wrong thing, anyway. It’s too complicated. What do I know? 

Actually a lot. You simply might need to take a step back. You might need to take a broader view, from a mountain top.

But what does this look like? How do you actually take a step back?

These strategies can get you started:

  • Write down all the reasons why you’re overwhelmed or unsure or stressed out. Get these out of your brain and body, and onto the paper. It doesn’t have to make much sense. Rather, the intention is to acknowledge, respect and process your overwhelm and whatever emotions you’re experiencing.
  • Write a letter of advice to yourself (like I did yesterday). Think of yourself as two parts: One part is your compassionate and wise self (the insight giver). This part always has your best interest at heart. They always have your back. They might ask in-depth questions. They might remind you of important insights. And they always believe you deserve kindness, care and respect. Your worth is never in question, because this part knows that you are, indeed, worthy. You are enough. The other part is the person needing advice (the seeker). You’re writing the letter from the giver’s perspective. What do they want you to know?
  • Similar to the above, create a dialogue between your compassionate, helpful self and the self who needs some answers. Write out all the questions and concerns you have about the situation, the decision. Then respond to them as your compassionate, wise self. Make it into a back and forth conversation.
  • Write about yourself and your situation in the third person. You are the narrator. You are composing the story about yourself (who is “she” or “he”). What is the protagonist struggling with? Why are they struggling? What are their options? What decisions are they wrestling with? What do they finally decide? How does it turn out?
  • Ask yourself these questions: What do I want? What are the more supportive options? What is most important to me here? What don’t I want? What doesn’t serve or support me? Am I doing this because it’s something I think I should be doing? Why? Where is this coming from?
  • Forget about the actual options for a few minutes. Define what you need in the situation. Then write out what you want to happen. In a perfect world, this would happen…. Then consider what option or options more closely matches that.

Of course, some decisions are easier than others. Either way, try not to get caught up in self-doubts, in your supposed inability to make decisions (which I know is sooo common if you’ve been indecisive and a people-pleaser for too long). But that doesn’t mean you can’t change your ways. It doesn’t mean you can’t start small and start now. Because you can. You can always change the story. Even in the middle. The good stories tend to have twists, don’t they?

What helps you in making supportive decisions? 

Photo by Igor Čančarević.
Tips for Taking a Step Back to Make Supportive Decisions

Margarita Tartakovsky, MS

Margarita is an associate editor at She writes about everything from taking compassionate care of yourself at any weight, shape, and size, to coping healthfully with difficult emotions. Her goal is to give readers practical, empowering tips to better their lives, and to remind you that whatever you're struggling with, you're never, ever alone.

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APA Reference
Tartakovsky, M. (2016). Tips for Taking a Step Back to Make Supportive Decisions. Psych Central. Retrieved on August 24, 2019, from


Last updated: 18 Sep 2016
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