Paralyzed by a Plethora of Possibilities

You would think that a smart person could make decisions easily, quickly, and definitively. 

But the people that I know?


How can that be?

Let me explain. Which of the following are true for you:

Your wild mind generates many ideas, options, possibilities and perspectives.

You can argue all sides of most issues.

When you took multiple choice tests in school, you could explain why all of the answers could be true.

There’s never an end to the “what ifs.”

You see beige, ecru, sand and eggshell when others see white.

Your decisions impact others, now and in the future. Choices need to be ethical.

All possibilities have their appeal so you can’t let any of them go.

You need to optimize every decision.

You feel pressure to look intelligent so you need to be right.

You want to keep all of your options open.

You have to make the best choice or you’re a complete failure.

You can generate an unending list of questions. You can’t decide until you answer them.

You care about justice, equality, sustainability and future generations.

Finding the right word matters.

If you make one choice, that means you experience a loss of what you didn’t choose. You want to avoid that loss.

You second guess yourself. Often.

It’s wrong to not take advantage of all of your opportunities.

Procrastination is your middle name.

You want to accommodate others and not hurt anyone’s feelings.

You’re highly sensitive so your choice of  restaurant, movie, soap, fabric, beverage and every other assorted thing, matters.

(And, if you’re a parent, making decisions about your kid, well, multiply all of the above by a gazillion.)

You wondered why you have difficulty making decisions?

Now you know.

One more thing.

Nothing is ever simple in the rainforest mind. Take it from Donald Antrim who wrote:

“The simple question “What color do you want to paint that upstairs room?” might, if we follow things to their logical conclusions, be stated, “How do I live, knowing that I will one day die and leave you?”

              (from The New Yorker, Dec. 27, 1999 & Jan. 3, 2000. The Pancake Breakfast)


To my blogEEs: Does this describe you? Tell us more. What helps make decision-making easier?

Thanks to Pamela Price and her Crew for their ideas and thanks to my commenters for their topic requests. And thanks to you, dear blogEEs, for reading.





Author: Paula Prober

I’m a psychotherapist and consultant in private practice based in Eugene, Oregon. I specialize in international consulting with gifted adults and parents of gifted children. I’ve been a teacher and an adjunct instructor at the University of Oregon and a frequent guest presenter at Oregon State University and Pacific University. I’ve written articles on giftedness for the Eugene Register-Guard, the Psychotherapy Networker, Advanced Development Journal and online for psychotherapy dot net, Rebelle Society, Thrive, Introvert Dear, and Highly Sensitive Refuge. My first book, Your Rainforest Mind: A Guide to the Well-Being of Gifted Adults and Youth, is a collection of case studies of gifted clients along with many strategies and resources for gifted adults and teens. My second book, Journey Into Your Rainforest Mind: A Field Guide for Gifted Adults and Teens, Book Lovers, Overthinkers, Geeks, Sensitives, Brainiacs, Intuitives, Procrastinators, and Perfectionists is a collection of my most popular blog posts along with writing exercises for self-exploration and insight.

35 responses to “Paralyzed by a Plethora of Possibilities”

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  1. Realizing That You Are Gifted — Will It Make a Difference? | Your Rainforest Mind

    […] have many ideas, paths, and possibilities, plus a sense of huge responsibility for oh, everything, decision making can be daunting. Choosing one direction, one job, one book, one color, one anything, might feel impossible. You […]

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    […] are gazillions of reasons for this. Well, maybe not gazillions. But lots. Here are just a […]

  3. Megan Avatar

    I read the post, nodding and relating so deeply, and came to the quote by Donald Antrim, and I just felt stunned. Exactly, it’s exactly that, and those words danced through my body and made me feel seen, and heard, and even joyful. To understand this type of mind is one thing, but to be able to express and share an example of the complexity that is so poignant, is to truly know, and have peace and acceptance with all that that complexity brings. You are a gem and I just feel moved by the way you are sharing all of this with us. Thank you.

    1. paulaprober Avatar

      Thank you, Megan.

  4. Sarah Clark Avatar
    Sarah Clark

    Paula, sorry I didn’t respond via email, but it looks like I didn’t need to because you knew everything I would say. Thank you for covering this…at least I don’t feel so alone in my paralyzed state. I have been working on accessing my intuition and letting go of the perfection ideal…slowly but surely I think I am getting somewhere… Thank you for all you do.

    1. paulaprober Avatar

      Sarah, it’s fine that you didn’t respond. I got the gist of what you were wondering about and took it from there. I appreciated your questions. I’m glad you feel less alone. I hope that future posts will continue to help. Thanks for letting me know.

  5. Justice Avatar

    Sorry for my poor English

    1. paulaprober Avatar

      Thank you for writing.

  6. Justice Avatar

    Still I’m nothing,this mind can’t help anyone even myself,still covered by skull,maybe you are right but still I’m crazy,even a bird can think about essence but what’s point? Waiting for death.

    1. paulaprober Avatar

      I’m so sorry you’re in so much pain. Being very intelligent can be such a burden. I hope you can find someone to talk with. And I hope my blog can help, even just a little. Maybe help you see that you’re not alone.

      1. Justice Avatar

        Thanks for reply,yes I think I realy need help,that’s why I’m following your post’s,but who knows the last answer! I think we are all looking for that answer…

  7. Franca Eder Avatar
    Franca Eder

    God this is just how i am. I think people underestimate us because they just don’t know what goes on in our minds. I have the feeling that sometimes our ‘procastination’ makes us appear ‘stupid’ to those who don’t have these problems… they see it…..

    1. paulaprober Avatar

      Yes, I think it may be hard for people to imagine what it’s like to generate so many thoughts so easily if they don’t do it themselves. Thanks for commenting, Franca.

  8. paulaprober Avatar

    I think the “compelled” part is your intuition/guidance. Yes? Otherwise, it just may be come from your cognition which isn’t as helpful.

    1. Kathy Avatar

      Yes it is my intuition for sure. I also pay attention to dreams ( when I can remember them) for the unconscious callings. This is a new practice. Over thinking something (cognition) always sends me on the wrong track. It is as if you try to rationalize your ideas too much.

  9. Kathy Avatar

    For me the best way for me to sort through ideas has been to use a sketchpad. I write whatever is coming in pieces in short sentences. I add photos loosely that seem to speak to me about it and then….drumroll please…I have learned to do nothing. This pause until I feel compelled to figure it out has brought me so much peace and has slowed (not stopped) the spinning constellations of ideas.

    1. paulaprober Avatar

      Sounds like you’re tapping into a deeper part of yourself? Intuition? Your unconscious? Can I incorporate this idea into the future post I write about what helps with decision-making?

      1. Kathy Avatar

        I would love it if you would! It is a way for me to sort through noise and to see patterns that emerge. My inuition is strong but I have to sort through to trust it. I use the words, photographs I take, and photos from magazines if I am drawn to something. It is way to capture, rest, and seek the meaning after it has had time to be. I only return to it though if compelled to.

  10. J. Spears Avatar
    J. Spears

    Choices. Sometimes I really hate choices. This can be easily witnessed whenever I enter a bookstore with just enough money to buy one or two books. It has been suggested to me that I should make a list of what I want while I’m there, which I find incredibly humorous. It would be much quicker for me to get a printed copy of the store’s inventory and cross off what I don’t want. Even then, if I had the time to consider them all, I’d probably change my mind on the ones I initially crossed off the list. Picking out paint is just as bad. I’ve actually left home improvement stores in tears because I had too many ideas and choices that seemed good to me.

    And those are just some of the minor choices I encounter.

    Whenever someone asks me what I want to study or do or be, those are the moments I wish I carried around a prism that I could hand to them. I would tell them that each surface represents something I’m interested in, and if they shined a light through just one surface and then tilted it in different directions so that the light moved through that one surface at different angles, all the variations in the size and shape of the colors would represent all the ways I can envision utilizing that one interest. I would then ask them:

    “If that were your prism and your interests, and all those ways to use those interests appealed to you equally, what would you choose? Could you limit yourself to just one or very few?”

    1. paulaprober Avatar

      Oh my. What a great question. Thanks for sharing, J.

      1. J. Spears Avatar
        J. Spears

        One of these days, I’ll actually start writing my story in a variety of posts on my own blog…..if I can ever decide where to begin!!

  11. CA Avatar

    Hello Paula to borrow Einstein’s phrase book you my friend are spooky action at a distance! Perhaps he meant it derisively but I mean it in an awesome way…perhaps we are entangled, get it entangled 🙂 Einstein? 🙂 It’s like you’ve a book entitled secrets of the Gifted and you are explaining me to me. Amazing…I think we all struggle with decisions but I also believe that we can make better ones as we get more experience with them…thanks again 🙂

    1. paulaprober Avatar

      I love this phrase, CA! No one has ever called me spooky action at a distance. So cool. I do want to put this all in a book eventually. Hm….Secrets of the Gifted. Could be good. 🙂

      1. CA Avatar


  12. paulaprober Avatar

    I hope to offer some ideas for helping with decision-making in a future post. Thank you for putting your feelings into words.

  13. Munchkin Avatar

    I just… I can’t even put to words.

    I live and breath most of these examples every day, and I don’t even have kids. It’s why I can’t drive. I over-think everything, but the loudest voice is always, “It’s not just your life, it’s the person in the car with you and the people in the cars around you, and anyone walking on a nearby street.”

    I have no idea how to make decision making easier. My fiancé is helping me, slowly, by pointing out when it’s non-consequential and refusing to decide for us. It’s such a slow process though.

  14. KtCallista Avatar

    I’m in tears! You’ve nailed it. Only two I think I could cross off as not applying – only 2, and maybe they do apply just not with the same strength as the others.
    I just left a promotion opportunity to take a permanent job in a new state (Oregon) with a program I love. I still don’t have a place to live because trying to find the right school for my rainforest children is all but impossible! Especially my oldest who HAS argued the validity of every multiple choice answer being accurate with me. Thank you whichever teacher told me ages ago, chose the one that is the most correct as presented!
    I am exhausted! I am making huge life decisions in rapid fire and it’s terrifying and hard. Very few people understand the anxiety I feel, how important the school choice is to me. Even with us planning on renting and then making a permanent decision in a year… even then it’s still a huge decision.

    I shared your blog with some friends, because this really has been an amazing mirror for me. It turns out it is for them too. I can’t thank you enough, even if I am crying.

    1. Munchkin Avatar

      And your friends can’t thank you enough for sharing this. Or at least this one can’t. Thank you so much.

    2. paulaprober Avatar

      Where in Oregon? Do you know I live in Eugene? Thank you as always for sharing your experience and your tears.

      1. KtCallista Avatar

        I am on my way to Portland. I’m not entirely sure where we will live, but until April my office will be downtown.

    3. paulaprober Avatar

      KtCallista. There’s a reply here for you but it didn’t show up underneath your comment. So be sure to look for it. I mention Oregon.

  15. Kathleen Avatar

    Once again, she nails it. . .

  16. mphinton Avatar

    I’m kidding of course. Love this post. Thank you!

  17. mphinton Avatar

    Are you reading my journal?

    1. paulaprober Avatar

      Ha! Glad you liked it.