Having too many choices can be hurtful

Breathe your way out of panic attacks
Drawing by Adrian Serghie

   Have you ever noticed that when we need to choose one thing from many similar ones, we get to feel anxious? Have you ever wondered why this happens? Maybe it’s because too many choices imply too many information to process and in our desire to make the best choice, we get overwhelmed.

   I believe it’s easier to choose between two things because we can realize what we like and what we don’t like regarding those two. However, when we have 10 choices, we take our time and not because we want to, but because we need to. This is a problem when we need to shop something meaningful. If it’s about a bag of candies, it might not be that big of a deal. But when it’s about buying a car, God help us all (there is a book called The Paradox of Choice – Why More Is Less by Barry Schwartz  where he explains the fact that having multiple options is affecting our wellbeing because we think about the missing opportunities and other implications as well)!

   Of course, this differs from person to another. Maybe not all of us will suffer if there are 7 different types of soda, but maybe some of us will suffer when we have to choose which clothes to wear before going to the shop. Having multiple choices gives us freedom, but that freedom is hurtful because it doesn’t come with the required info so we can make a quick choice.

  How hard it is for you to make a choice when you have multiple similar options?

31 thoughts on “Having too many choices can be hurtful

  1. I agree, sometimes choices can be easily discounted. With similar choices I’m not sure one is better than the others. A useful skill is to be able to quickly go for “good enough” rather than perfect / optimal.
    I have been in decision paralysis before, that’s how I know I’m getting stressed. It’s horrible, & I relied on other people stepping in & making the choices for me.

    These days I find it easier to just pick something & avoid the agonising. How badly can it go anyway?

    1. Maybe a more intense self-discovering process can help you get to a better self-understanding which might ease that decision making process because you can have a clearer view about what you want. What do you think?

      1. I think there are plenty of decisions where it doesn’t matter what we choose, as long as we make a choice. Or decide to withdraw from making a decision.

  2. My sister says that shopping with me is a kind of punishment because I take too long to decide which item I like best. She had the misfortune to accompany me on one of my shopping trips which took 3 hours to find a pair of shoes that I really like. Also, when making plans like for vacation and stuff, it takes me weeks or months to nail down the details because I do a lot of research first.
    So, I guess I agree. Having too many choices can be very difficult sometimes. And it doesn’t only affect oneself, but also the people around… at least in my case.

      1. Sometimes it’s fun, sometimes not. It depends on the type of choices I have to make. For example, shopping for shoes out of necessity can be tiresome. But shopping for shoes because I just wanted to is fun. 😁

  3. It can be very difficult deciding what choices to pursue. Little things like whether I should fold the laundry first, then take the trash out, then clean the dishes. I start thinking about which is more important than the other and end up spending a great deal of time thinking instead of acting. I think it’s important to just start moving. Gaining momentum and completing tasks one by one.

  4. One of the main reasons I hate shopping! Especially especially…in big department stores! It’s not only overwhelming and confusing, it’s annoying and boring!

    One book comes to kind: ‘Blink’/Malcom Gladwell

      1. I did the same thing this Christmas! ‘After’ I attempted ‘one’ big store, did a u turn and out I walked.

  5. I find choice easier when I have the criteria clear in my own mind of what I want. And if I find it difficult or frustrating, I think about the days I had no choice and it relaxes me. And when I do chose I’m happy that I had a choice.

    1. Yes, it’s easier to choose when we know what we want! It’s awesome if you can be happy with the choice you made without thinking about what you didn’t choose.

  6. I prefer to have multiple choices, but not too many. 🙂 When I am relaxed, I trust myself in making choices.
    I hate shopping when I am in a hurry, because everything seems too much and suffocating or unsatisfying. For me it happens often to go shopping, let’s say, for a pair of shoes and find the most interesting dress. So, I don’t buy any shoes, but I buy the dress.
    So, even when life offers me a list of choices, I feel empowered not to make any of the choices on the list if none fits me. There is a fine line between taking time to find the perfect choice to make and procrastination. More wisdom we get with every choice, with every decision…

    1. And the line is created by the mindset. You can do nothing ant thing about that in a constructive way (like a plan) or do nothing and trying to ignore it (procrastination) wich will create anxiety…

  7. I find it entertaining to have so many options. It’s great for when you want something different. My husband always tells me that I stress him out when I have options because while I consider them all, I almost always go with my normal one or two. Or if it is something different it is still yet the same. Go figure. Options don’t really present anxiety for me, however, I hate car shopping. It’s not the options so much as it is the salesmen that I loathe. Haha.

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