Second-guessing, Self-doubt, and Indecisiveness after Narcissistic Abuse

Second-guessing, Self-doubt, and Indecisiveness after Narcissistic Abuse second-guessing
Photo by Muhmed Alaa El-Bank on Unsplash

Let’s admit it, we all struggle when it comes to making decisions. Even for me, today I spent about 30–45 minutes just trying to figure out what I was going to write about. That’s why I decided to address indecisiveness, second-guessing, and self-doubt, especially after experiencing narcissistic abuse, which inevitably adds more fuel to these crippling emotions.

Anyone who has been involved with a narcissist will experience deep self-doubt, constant second-guessing, and an inability to decide — even on simple matters — long after they’ve left the relationship. Through incessant belittling, gaslighting, name-calling, and all forms of verbal abuse, victims find it difficult to make even the smallest decisions for themselves (such as choosing dinner, clothing, or a movie). They feel unable to decide independently due to the constant dominance and control exerted by their abusive partner.

A narcissistic relationship is a realm where an individual loses their autonomy, as every choice they make is consistently ridiculed or dismissed. When you cannot express an opinion or voice your feelings, fear takes over. Emotional abuse also makes you believe that you’re inadequate, further eroding your confidence in making decisions. The relationship strips you of your independence, and you start to believe that you can’t make choices without seeking their approval. This is why the aftermath of a narcissistic relationship often leads victims to continually seek advice, even for the simplest aspects of their lives. They feel powerless in making decisions.

In terms of second-guessing, you’re perpetually worried about making the wrong choice. This stems from a narcissist distorting your sense of reality, making it challenging to distinguish between what’s real and what’s not. Gaslighting leads you to question your thoughts, memories, and feelings. You’ll delay simple decisions due to uncertainty about which option to select. You’ll be more focused on “what if I make a mistake” than on taking action.

Being uncertain and doubting every aspect of our lives is undoubtedly not a favorable position. You might fall victim to poor advice, especially in significant life decisions, as you strive to move forward after the betrayal of the past. I’ll now share some practical steps you can take to overcome self-doubt, enhance decisiveness, and curb second-guessing. These tips are relevant not only to those who have been in toxic relationships but also to anyone struggling with decisiveness in life.

How to Become More Decisive in Life After Narcissistic Abuse

1. Start with Small Decisions

The most effective way to gradually bolster your decisiveness is to begin with insignificant decisions that have minimal impact on your life. Make a small decision and stick to it. For instance, if you’ve chosen to watch a movie on Netflix, select one and commit to it, without overthinking the numerous options.

There’s no harm in sticking with that seemingly mundane choice until the end; you’ll only lose a few minutes or hours. Another example is when you’re at a restaurant and struggle to choose your meal. Opt for the first item on the menu or the first option that comes to mind. There’s no harm in choosing rice and soup; it’s about building the confidence that you can make and stand by a decision.

Throughout your daily life, you encounter situations where selecting from multiple alternatives is challenging. Try choosing the first thing that comes to mind, push yourself to stick with it, and as you practice, you’ll become more comfortable making larger decisions. Starting small instills the belief that you can do it, reducing self-doubt over time.

2. Understand Your Boundaries

Boundaries are essential, particularly after leaving a toxic relationship or when dealing with people who might exploit you. Establishing boundaries provides a foundation for decision-making. To use boundaries as a decision-making tool, compile a list of your values, interests, what you refuse to tolerate from others, and what you’re comfortable with — any limits that safeguard your well-being.

You can prioritize your top values in relation to your boundaries (such as well-being or self-respect). When struggling to decide or second-guessing yourself, refer to your top 3–5 values. If the decision aligns with your values, go ahead; if not, discard it.

Having boundaries simplifies the process and serves as a valuable compass while navigating a world where others might exploit your vulnerabilities. Continuously clarify and refine these boundaries until they become ingrained in your life, like second nature.

3. Analyze the Consequences of Your Decisions

Another approach to overcoming self-doubt and improving decisiveness is to assess the consequences of each choice. Second-guessing often involves exaggerating the outcomes of picking Option A or Option B without delving into the depths of those consequences.

This overthinking leads to anxiety as the mind fixates on worst-case scenarios and the fear of making the wrong decision, when in reality, either choice is unlikely to lead to significant problems. When struggling to decide, carefully consider the consequences of each option and choose the one with the most positive impact on your life.

You can also evaluate the consequences of not making a choice, and it’s crucial to be honest with yourself during this process. Additionally, you can connect consequences with emotions and feelings — visualize the happiness or pain associated with both choices.

For instance, if you’re torn between rekindling a relationship with an ex or moving forward without them, list the consequences for each scenario, and consider researching if you’re unsure about certain aspects. This clarity helps counteract fear and distorted reality, making decision-making easier.

4. Take Full Responsibility for Your Choices and Embrace Mistakes

One final step to enhance decisiveness is to fully assume responsibility for your decisions. This step builds upon the previous ones, where you’ve already understood your boundaries and the consequences of decisions. Now, it’s about taking complete responsibility and acting.

This is particularly challenging, as we’re accustomed to seeking advice from others about what to do. If you’ve been involved with a narcissist, dominance and control were so pervasive that you felt compelled to consult them even for minor decisions. Seeking their advice became a strategy to avoid scolding or blame for the outcomes.

This dependence on external input hinders your ability to choose independently. To counter this, be prepared to make mistakes and recognize that they’re part of the learning process. Practice making decisions without always seeking consultation; take full responsibility and acknowledge that errors are a natural part of the journey.

This process fosters independence and belief in your decision-making skills. It doesn’t mean you should stop seeking advice altogether, but it’s about rebuilding your self-confidence. Be kind to yourself and understand that mistakes are stepping stones. Reflect on important decisions you’ve made and take pride in your ability to decide.


Ultimately, self-doubt is a common aspect of life, but being in a toxic relationship amplifies it. However, this should not deter you from reclaiming your autonomy and breaking free from the chains of narcissistic abuse.

Also, remember that not deciding is, in itself, a decision. Every one of us possesses the power to choose — some find it challenging, while others find it easier. The key is to start small and build from there. If you’re still in a toxic relationship, the firm decision should always be to leave, aligning all actions toward that escape.

This is a foundational principle to hold onto when you feel trapped and unsure. Ignore that inner voice suggesting, “You can still make it work,” or “You’re making the wrong choice.” No amount of staying will transform an abusive relationship into a healthier one. In fact, it’s likely to worsen, as your perception of reality continues to be distorted.

I understand it’s difficult, but if you’re grappling with the decision to remain in or leave a toxic relationship, allow me to make the choice for you today: Leaving will open doors to a beautiful life once you’ve healed. In conclusion, if you struggle to choose, opt for the path that aligns with your mental well-being and personal growth.

Note from the Author

If you’re ready and you’d like my help with healing, finding peace in life and breaking free from these toxic patterns (in less than 2 months) , then you can book a FREE BREAKTHROUGH CALL with me HERE. Happy healing 💙💙. Feel free to share and comment! Use this information with caution, it comes from my own thoughts & bias, experiences and research😊.

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Edwin Bii
Edwin Bii

I'm Edwin Bii, a trained advanced conversational hypnotherapist (ACH) and Mind Shifting Coach from Kenya offering mental health support, and life coaching to help you crush your goalsand overcome your problems. Together, we'll navigate challenges, build self-awareness, and create a happier, healthier you. Let's unlock your potential.

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