Wednesday, April 20, 2011
Emotion versus logic in decisions. Which is the "better" approach?
How often do you hear people say to "follow your heart" or to "make a pro/con" list? There is much debate about the best way to make decisions, and you hear it everyday -- especially during rush hour on the subway: "You're so illogical!" or "You have no heart!"
Surprisingly, neither emotion or logic is the best way to make a decision.
What is the better choice? Go with your gut! Your gut seamlessly combines all of the information from both your logical left brain, and the information from your emotional right brain, and spits out a perfect solution that resonates and feels "right" to both your logic and emotional sides.
That's right, both logic and emotion is a limited source of information. Your logic is like a computer print-out with a list of facts. Your emotions are like the indicator lights on your car dash board, alerting you to possible problems within the car. Both contain valuable sources of information when making a decision, but neither approach allows us to see the full picture.
Now, here comes your gut instinct, your intuition, a strong sense of things being on the right track, or NOT.
However, most of us choose to ignore this brilliant gut-instinct approach to decision-making, and instead rely heavily either on logic (especially those in business, sciences, or in corporate jobs), or on emotion (especially those who work in the arts, with people, or in creative fields).
BOTH logic and emotion are sources of solid information -- however -- it remains unprocessed until your gut instinct comes into play.
EXAMPLE OF LOGICAL-DECISION-MAKING FAILURE:
Your logic spits out a nice, neat little list of things that should make sense, like a computer print out of facts.
However, this list doesn't always apply to your life, your personality, and host of other factors. You can end up making a very foolish decision working from your logic alone.
1) Example -- If your logic tells you, "Always purchase the cheaper product to save money." and you're faced with a decision of choosing a surgeon for open heart surgery -- one doctor charges $500 less. The other doctor has a better reputation for keeping people alive. Your logic chimes in "Look, we're saving $500!" So you select that option. Neglecting to notice a host of other considerations you should be making, such as the value of your life, how comfortable you'll be in the shady cheaper doctor's operating table, lingering infections that could cost you more money long-term due to poor care, or the fact that some things may be more important to you than money -- such as your life.
Let's say you go with the cheaper doctor, and die. But you did save $500! Was that the best decision? Obviously not.
2) Another example -- your logic tells you "Save money on groceries! They are cheaper across town at the ghetto market." You drive an hour across town. You save $20 on groceries, however, you've also spent $15 on gas and wasted about two hours of your time -- time which you could have spend applying to new jobs which could result in a $20,000 pay increase for the next year. Can we say "penny-wise, pound foolish?"
You did save $20 though. Wasn't that logical of you?
Yes, both of these examples are logically sound. You saved $500 in the first example, and you saved $20 in the second, which makes sense since purchasing cheaper products DOES save money.
EXAMPLE OF FEELING-DECISION-MAKING FAILURE:
Emotion also can lead you astray. Feeling provides you with important feedback about how your body is reacting to your thoughts . Feelings of happiness, fear, etc., will show you which thoughts you have been thinking.
1) Example -- If you are thinking "I love to buy new electronics! It's exhilarating!" Then you will feel an over whemling sense of joy as you walk through the electronics store.
As you approach a giant television that costs $1000, your emotions again alert you "WE ARE THINKING GOOD THINGS! I'M FEELING HAPPY!" Basing your decision off of emotion alone will lead you to purchase this television, neglecting the logic of the situation: you are in debt, and you don't have $1000.
Sure, you will feel fantastic! However, you've just gotten yourself deeper into debt. When the bill arrives later this month, you're going to feel anxious and depressed. Was that really the best decision to buy the television?
2) Another example -- You walk through the grocery store, and notice yourself feeling really happy as you walk through the expensive health food section. You feel a surge of joy, as you stuff your basket full of the priciest options you've ever seen. Then you attack the specialty cheese sections, throwing in $9 cheese wheels, and adding in some expensive wine.
"This feels great! It's like I'm changing my whole life for the better!"
You feel fantastic. Until you leave the check-out stand and look at your receipt. $350 for groceries! How is that even possible! Now you can't even pay your utility bill this month.
Was that the best decision? Of course not.
You get the idea. Neither logic or feeling alone paint the whole picture of what the best decision really is.
HOW TO USE YOUR GUT INSTINCT TO MAKE DECISIONS:
To combine your logic and emotion together into a stellar approach that really does result in drastically improved decisions -- it's what I train my entrepreneurs, financial traders and CEOs to do, a well as my single clients who are dating -- they all use this approach. You'll notice a big improvement in the quality of your decisions.
1) Sit down, be quiet, and listen to yourself -- this is really hard to do. Your instinct will be to go back to watching TV, reading, paying bills or whatever mindless tasks you usually use to distract yourself (from yourself -- and how ridiculous is that? When you have brilliant solutions already, just waiting to be discovered!)
2) Ask yourself the question you need answered. "What should I do about ____.
3) Allow yourself to ponder for a solid minute.
4) If you still don't have an answer, e.g., you feel torn, confused, pulled in two directions, or have a feeling of "I just don't know!" - - that's a clue you aren't yet tuned into your intuition. Remove the element that is pulling you in two directions -- for instance, if your issue is cost, take cost out of the equation. If your issue is letting someone down, take that off the table.
5) Again allow yourself to ponder for a solid minute "What should I do?"
6) Almost always within 5 minutes you'll have an answer. You may need to repeat the question a few times.
ONLY 5 MINUTES TO A BRILLIANT SOLUTION! Why don't we always operate this way? Because it's PAINFUL the first time you do it, because it flies in the face of what you're used to.
But it's really not so bad. You're rewarded with the perfect answer that you have consciously decided.
Of course, there are more in-depth steps to the process, including learning the signals your body gives you when you are in a "place of intuition" and those that signal you are blocking yourself, as well as what to do about that. If you need more in-depth help with this, contact me for a coaching session.
Conscious decisions feel darn good. Why? Because you're making a choice, instead of allowing life to pass you by and have others make decisions for you.
This is the reason most of us have for having NO IDEA how to make a good, gut-instinct-decision for ourselves.
THE FREEDOM TO CHOOSE DECISIONS THAT WORK FOR YOU
When you're a 5-year-old, you're forced to have MOST of the decisions in your life made for you. You're lucky if someone asks what color shirt you want to wear today. And there isn't much option here: if you want to be taken care of and survive, you've gotta give in, and go with the flow.
But today, as an ADULT, you are given the freedom to select things you actually WANT for your life.
The problem is that many of us have been trained from a young age to automatically accept OTHER people's DECISIONS as our own. Even if those decisions are the wrong ones for you.
This means you're not trained to understand your own power for making decisions, and it leaves you feeling powerless, like a victim, and like you are floating along on a river waiting for something to happen -- this truly is the life of a 5-year-old. Passive.
It's not the life of the adult you're meant to be. So choose to make these decisions, consciously, as an adult should, and to make them SOUND, good, and brilliant decisions using the process above.
Let me show you what a good decision sounds like:
"I really pondered this. Initially, I wanted to hire a cheaper doctor to save money. I think saving money makes sense. However, I then got an anxious feeling. I asked myself what that feeling was, and I realized I was scared a lesser-known doctor might not perform as well. I thought about it more, and asked myself, "What's more important to me: my life or the cost of the surgery?" I then realized I really value my life most of all. It makes the most sense to go with a better doctor, even if I initially lose some money. I can make more money in my career, and I plan on working extra hours to make that money later this year, but I can never get my life back if I die under the knife of someone with a poor reputation."
This example shows a person going through a process of considering both logic and emotion, but ultimately deciding based on a gut-instinct feeling, which is bolded above. There is a sense of clarity, and the decision may even feel obvious to you.
Good luck in adding this process to your daily life!
photos above: free digital photos.net