Do you have a hard time making decisions?

One of the most common problems that clients complain about is their inability to make a decision.  This isn’t the same as procrastinating, where you put off doing most things.  I’m taking about needing to decide yes or no, or to choose between different alternatives, e.g., should I do this or that?  And an awful lot of people just don’t want to choose.

bigstock-An-illustrated-person-stands-w-24324395Why would so many people (including possibly you) put off making decisions when the failure to act often results in negative consequences in their lives?  Should I ask that woman I like out on a date?  Should I go out with the man who asked me out?  Should I ask for a raise?  Should I take this job or that job?  Where should we go on vacation?  Should we allow our teenage daughter make the trip she wants to make all alone?

Resistance to making decisions comes from fear

We’ve learned from hundreds of clients with this problem that the primary reason people resist making a decision is fear of failure.  And the main belief causing that fear is Mistakes and failure are bad, one of the most common beliefs people have.

Why this belief is so common

Because parents rarely get parenting training, they tend to have unreasonable expectations for their children.  They expect toddlers to be quiet, to be neat, to come when called, etc.  These tasks are virtually impossible for children under the ages of four or five.  But because parents expect their children to do these things, most parents get annoyed or even angry when their children “disobey.”

Some of the phrases parents commonly use have become clichés they are used so frequently: “How many times do I have to tell you?”  “Don’t you ever listen?”  “What’s wrong with you?”

If you were a young child and repeatedly heard those phrases thrown at you in an annoyed or angry tone of voice, can you see that you probably would eventually conclude: If I’m not doing what mom and dad want, time after time, I’m making mistakes and failing.  And if they are upset, that’s obviously bad.  So, mistakes and failure are bad.

Once you form this and other similar beliefs (such as, if I make a mistake I’ll be rejected), you become afraid to make a mistake.  And here’s the connection between this belief and the resistance to making a decision:  Every time you make a decision, there is the possibility of making a mistake.

Now if the decision to be made is similar to one you’ve made many time in the past or if the chance of a mistake or failing in a specific situation is slim, you are unlikely to experience anxiety in these situations.

But if you need to make a decision about something brand new, or if the consequences of a wrong decision are significant, the belief kicks in and anxiety results.  And because most of us tend to avoid things that make us anxious, we do whatever we can to put off making this type of decision.

Steps of a process to eliminate beliefs

The simplest way to deal with this problem is to eliminate the belief, Mistakes and failure are bad.  The fear of making a decision is the result of several beliefs, but this one is probably the most important.  The Lefkoe Belief Process, which I created over 28 years ago, will help you do this.  Just follow the eight steps below and when you are done in just a few minutes that belief will be gone.

Step 1: State the belief (Mistakes and failure are bad) out loud.  … You might intellectually disagree with the statement, but doesn’t it feel true on some gut level?  You know you have this belief if you would not want others to know about a mistake you made.

Step 2: Identify the source of the belief.  In this case, it usually was mom and dad being critical and annoyed when you were a kid, not because they didn’t love you, but because they had unreasonable expectations and a lack of parenting training.

Step 3: Recognize that the belief you formed is one valid interpretation of mom and dad’s behavior, but there are other valid interpretations of the same childhood events.  Such as:

  • Mom and dad thought mistakes and failure are bad, but they were wrong; they are the best way to learn.
  • Mom and dad yelled at me, not because mistakes and failure were bad, but because they didn’t have the parenting skills to teach me how to do what they wanted me to do.
  • Mom and dad got upset when I didn’t do what they wanted, not because mistakes and failure are bad, but because they didn’t have the patience required to talk to me calmly.
  • And finally, mistakes and failure were bad in my house; they aren’t necessarily bad everywhere.

Can you see that each of these alternative interpretations explains mom and dad’s behavior just as well as your interpretation, that mistakes and failure are bad?  … If they do, then what you concluded as a child isn’t “the truth,” but merely one arbitrary interpretation.

Step 4: Imagine being a young child and remember mom and dad being annoyed because you didn’t do something they wanted.  As you imagine this, doesn’t it seem as if you can see that mistakes and failure are bad? …

Most people do have a clear sense they can see mistakes and failure are bad as inherent in mom and dad’s comments and behavior.

Step 5:  Can you really see mistakes and failure are bad?  … If anything you can see you can describe, with a shape, color and location, you should realize that, in fact, you can’t see mistakes and failure are bad.  All you can see is what actually happened, namely, mom and dad’s behavior.

Step 6: If you can’t see mistakes and failure are bad in the world, where has it been?  … Do you realize it has only existed in your mind?

Step 7: Mom and dad’s behavior and comments had a consequence.  They might have scared you or upset you.  But does mom and dad’s behavior have any inherent meaning?  By which I mean, can you draw any inferences or conclusions, for sure, about mistakes and failure from mom and dad’s behavior? … You can’t, can you?

Step 8: If the only place mistakes and failure are bad has ever existed is in your mind and if what you actually saw has no inherent meaning, say the words of the belief out loud: Mistakes and failure are bad. …  Really, say these words out loud.  …

Do they still feel true? We’ve used the Lefkoe Belief Process with clients literally hundreds of thousands of times and it almost always results in the belief being permanently eliminated.

Try it.  If you only read the steps of the process and didn’t already eliminate the belief, do it right now.  You have nothing to lose except your fear of making a decision.

Thanks for reading my blog.  Please post your questions or comments about your fear of making decisions and your experience of eliminating the belief.  Your comments will add value for thousands of readers.  I read them all and respond to as many as I can.

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If you haven’t yet eliminated at least one of your limiting self-esteem beliefs using the Lefkoe Belief Process, go to where you can eliminate several limiting beliefs free.

Copyright © 1985-2013 Morty Lefkoe


  1. Celeste January 1, 2020 at 8:05 am - Reply

    I think step 1 is very interesting about how I can disagree with a belief intellectually, but on some gut level I do agree more with the belief. Somehow, the limiting belief is stuck in my body. I’ve worked with someone who with the Lefkoe Method has helped me to remove several limiting beliefs I’ve had that I rationally can say I don’t believe, but on a gut level – and many times a very high level I do believe. The Lefkoe Method has helped me gain momentum in moving forward with major goals in my life.

  2. Randy April 7, 2013 at 11:02 am - Reply

    I review every single bad thing that could happen when I make a decision. I don’t think it has something to do with mistakes and failures. It’s probably the fact that I believe ” Something bad will happen if I make a decision” Something of that sort.

    Or, I make a decision based on how much approval I’ll get.

  3. tori April 5, 2013 at 5:30 pm - Reply

    Since your software helps us learn which beliefs we have, I wonder if we could have a “belief” exchange–I’d like to know how people with different beliefs than I have see things. Even after getting rid of some of my faulty beliefs, I’m not “trained” to have a new perspective.

  4. Liz April 3, 2013 at 10:25 am - Reply

    As I read ” And finally, mistakes and failure were bad in my house; they aren’t necessarily bad everywhere” I thought….”Boy there are a lot of households where mistakes and failure are considered bad”. I agree with your whole process and find it fascinating, but what about the fact that we live in a society in which the majority of people did grow up in such households and did not learn your methods….so we go around at work, home, in our social life constantly surrounded by people that believe mistakes and failure are bad. Even if we manage to change our belief, doesn’t living in a society that believes this mean that we will be affected by the consequences of the people around us believing that? I.e our boss, our teachers, our friends etc. Like Priti above who is affected by her husband’s belief that mistakes and failure are bad. If he believes so and she makes a mistake, her life can be negatively impacted by consequences he imposes on her….as she says, it has seriously affected their relationship. We live in a society surrounded by people who believe that…on some level it makes it so. Like society has decided that murder is bad, so we go to jail because society has decided so. I am not comparing the two, but if society imposes consequences (albeit different ones in different scenarios) becauses it believes something is bad, it has the abilty to affect our lives if the majority of people believe mistakes and failure are bad. So, we make a mistake, someone reacts with a consequence, we suffer and then a lot of the time, mistake and failure mean bad things happen to us…what do you with this?

    • Morty Lefkoe April 3, 2013 at 4:33 pm - Reply

      Hi Liz,

      The question is not is it possible for a mistake or failure to result in a problem? Of course it can. The issue is: It is the absolute truth that any mistake or failure is bad? No, that belief is not the truth.

      And it is that belief and others like it that make people afraid of making decisions. You need to take a look at any decision and see if a wrong decision might result in a disaster. Rarely will that be true. And when it is, take more time and be more careful.

      Thanks for taking the time to comment, love, Morty

  5. Scott April 3, 2013 at 10:11 am - Reply


    This is not new information to me (as I’ve been reading your blogs for over a year now), but of course it is still so valuable. I did the exercise, as I have done before in the Natural Confidence Program, and instantly felt some relief.

    So my question is this, is it common to have to repeat the elimination process a couple of times for it to stick? Is it possible that it doesn’t always permanently remove the belief? I say this because I’ve eliminated (or at least gone through the NC Program) all of the most common beliefs and conditionings, yet there are still some lingering fears in my day to day thinking.

    Maybe I need to focus harder and remember better (which can be tough, most of my early childhood memories are hazy) while doing the Process? Any input would be welcome.

    As always, thank you Morty for everything you do. I truly believe you are making the world a better place!


    • Morty Lefkoe April 3, 2013 at 11:47 am - Reply

      Hi Scott,

      People who have a sense that they can “see” the belief inherent in the events that formed the belief almost always eliminate a belief permanently.

      People who say, I didn’t see the belief when the events occurred, I Felt it, sometimes have some of the beliefs come back. Usually repeating the process one or more times will have the belief go away permanently. In rare cases, some of the beliefs do not go away permanently.

      Love, Morty

  6. Yong Kang April 3, 2013 at 10:03 am - Reply

    Hi Morty,

    I went through your natural program before and I have eliminated “mistakes and failure are bad”. Though I’m better at making decision, I’m still quite indecisive and take a long time to make a decision e.g. choosing a place to eat. I’m wondering what other beliefs I may have that’s holding me back from making a faster decision?

    Yong Kang

    • Morty Lefkoe April 3, 2013 at 11:40 am - Reply

      Hi Yonh Kang,

      This belief is the most important one, but there can be many other beliefs that could contribute to a fear of making a decision: if I make a mistake or fail I’ll be rejected, I’m inadequate, I’m powerless, I’m not good enough, what makes me good enough is having people think well of me, etc.

      Our Natural Confidence digital program helps you eliminate 19 beliefs that cause a lack of confidence and a fear of making a decision. For more information check out


  7. Priti April 3, 2013 at 9:51 am - Reply

    Hi Morty:

    My fear that “mistakes and failures are bad”, did not come from my parents but from my husband who strongly believes that first mistake is ok but repeating the mistake is bad , meaning you are not an average intelligent person. How can I get rid of this belief that “repeating a mistake or a failure is bad”. This belief, a living principle for my family esp my husband has at times seriously impacted our relationship too.

    • Morty Lefkoe April 3, 2013 at 11:37 am - Reply

      Hi Priti,

      After working with almost 14,000 people we have found that this belief and others like it were always formed as a child through interactions with parents. Yes, it is possible that your husband is saying things that could lead to the belief, but it virtually all cases it had ALREADY been formed earlier in life.

      And in the very rare case where the belief was formed later in life, use the same process with a different source. The rest of the process would be the same.

      Love, Morty

  8. sunshine April 3, 2013 at 9:21 am - Reply

    I am a new reader, and I just tried the process.
    The farthest back memory I could remember was at three years old going out after a rain storm. I can’t remember the memory, but my mother always told me about it. She said the reason that I was hospitalized with pneumonia and put in an oxygen tent ( in those days) was because I insisted in going out after a rain storm and got wet in a puddle. She always blamed me for almost dying.. When I was younger I felt shame and guilt and didn’t trust myself to make a decision.
    I look at it differently now, but the feeling of the consequences for my decision still come up, and still keep me in fear.

  9. Deb April 3, 2013 at 8:50 am - Reply

    Suppose you can’t make a decision about having a facelift. It would be a real serious mistake if things didn’t go the way you assumed. They can’t show you the end result. How do you get past this? Could use the help. Thanks.

    • Morty Lefkoe April 3, 2013 at 11:33 am - Reply


      There is never a guarantee than any decision will be the correct one and work out the way you intended. You analyze all the available information and make the best decision you can. Failing to make a decision is actually deciding to say No by default.

      I’m talking about removing your fear that mistakes of any kind are always bad. Often they are great learning opportunities. And sometimes a mistake can be fatal. But all mistakes and all failures are not bad.

      Love, Morty

      • Kindle January 5, 2020 at 1:52 am - Reply

        I follow Agnes vivarelli on YouTube, and I stumbled upon the video of her interviewing Shelly. I then YouTubed the video and found the interview of you and Joe Vitale. I find this process super easy to follow. I have beliefs that are causing me to be stagnant in life and I’m trying to get a move on with my life, and establish a career. But one of my belief is what if I choose the wrong one because the fear of failure but I believe I have other beliefs that I’m not good enough or smart enough that we’re established by my parents. I’m going to start by going within and figuring out my beliefs and changing them. I am super thankful that I found this method.

  10. Alex April 2, 2013 at 9:20 pm - Reply

    Hello Morty,

    I noticed that you skipped the “feeling” step. Is this a one-time thing or have you by any chance modified the LBP to no longer include that step?

    • Morty Lefkoe April 3, 2013 at 7:32 am - Reply

      Hi ALex,

      The “feeling” step is still part of the Lefkoe Belief Process. In this blog for the average person I wanted to make the process as simple as possible, and this version will work for about 85% of the population.

      Love, Morty

  11. Almog April 2, 2013 at 5:18 pm - Reply

    Hey Morty

    As a veteran reader of your blog and multiple personal development books including yours, I can clearly understand the connection between these beliefs and the constant failure to make decisions. I can also acknowledge that fear results from these beliefs, and that they inhibit the options for taking action.

    However, these beliefs, as you know, are not the only beliefs that could lead to fear in situations in which we would have to make a decision. As I have learnt with deliberate focus over the past few years, in order to find all or most of the beliefs that cause a specific problem (in this case, fear in situations of having to make a decision), you need to examine all of the aspects that are associated with that problem.

    Relating to one of your examples above, asking a woman out on a date doesn’t only involve a possibility of failure. It involves you, her, dating, women, men, social values and norms, what would happen if…, life and possibly more.

    Making decisions effectively and clearly depends on eliminating all of those limiting beliefs, or becoming free of their effect by gaining control over the way life occurs for you, or both. That, Morty, is something YOU have taught me :-)

    I wish you all a wonderful life!

    • Morty Lefkoe April 2, 2013 at 6:43 pm - Reply

      Hi Almog,

      Right you are, in most cases there would be more than one belief causing the fear that inhibits making decisions.

      My purpose in writing this post is to get people to eliminate at least one belief and see that there is some reduction in the fear–in other words, to discover that there is something they can do about the fear that has been stopping them.

      My intention is that after eliminating one belief and seeing that they can do it, they will eliminate a couple more at and eventually eliminate all the beliefs that cause the fear, which stop the decision making.

      Thanks for taking the time to comment.

      Love, Morty

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