"OMG everyone's dying!"

I mentioned decision paralysis in passing in the last post and it's really a subject worth talking about as a healer. It's important to recognise that as a healer you're faced with many more choices to make than a dps or tank and although a lot of them are easy to make, things can get out of hand in an instant.

Decision paralysis can happen when faced with an overwhelming amount of information all at once, where your brain is so overloaded it gives up trying to solve the problem and just says "I don't know". If you've healed 25m raids at some point chances are you've definitely experienced this, but it happens just as easily in 5m dungeons. If several people need attention at the same time it's very easy to think too long about it, over-analyse and either act too late or not at all. And then people die. Someone looks at the death logs and sees no heals from you on the players in the seconds before they hit the dirt and you're struggling to explain why ("Sorry, lag spike...").

Sometimes it doesn't take a lot to throw us like this. Ever driven somewhere with no recollection of the journey afterward? Easy, familiar tasks get assigned to the subconscious where they're more efficiently dealt with than the higher part of the brain, so you can perform on "autopilot" and have a think about what you're having for dinner, or how unfair it is you keep losing loot rolls for the shoulders you really need. This is great for the most part as it takes time to actively think about things before performing an action, but if something unexpected comes up, a car pulls out on you, a patrolling trash pack adds, you're no longer in that comfortable zone of  long experience and easy tasks. I've seen it referred to sometimes as a "pattern interrupt" (albeit by the non-scientific field of mentalism) and I think that's a useful description for the event and why it takes a moment to recollect yourself.

So if this happens to us there's something really important to do.


Seriously, just cast a heal on someone, it's better than standing there doing nothing 99% of the time. Remember I said the healing decision flow was: "Who needs healing?" -> "Can I afford to heal them?" -> "How should I heal them?"? And that it was having to much to think about that stops us doing anything? By throwing away the last two stages we lighten our workload to be somewhat effective instead of completely ineffective. See, there's a reason I made a tediously long post deconstructing everything.

It might not be exactly the right heal on exactly the right person but it'll make some difference and more importantly it'll help you shift gears quicker into dealing with what's going wrong. Doing something sidesteps two problems, not knowing what to do and thinking too long on how best to act; you'll buy yourself time to think and in the meantime you'll fall less behind. There are some fairly safe bets depending on your spec, I won't get too specific because they're fairly obvious but you can do worse at any point than casting say Chain Heal, Prayer of Healing, Wild Growth and so on. Smart heals that target lower health players are particularly effective because they do most of the thinking about who to heal for you. The first moment you get to properly see what's going on you should look for any players that need individual attention because they're particularly low. If you can't find anyone specific, keep up the group heals and save who you can.

And when it's all over, bask in the warm glow of people congratulating you on your awesome healing, while you pretend it was all planned and not just you mashing on your keys and hoping for the best. I won't tell if you don't.

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