I think that it is a common thought to believe that we are solely autonomous and make most of our decisions logically. But if I was to state that this is not the case, that in fact, we are almost always guided emotionally…would you believe me?
I used to have a really hard time believing this but it is true. So, it ends up, I didn’t want to believe it because I feel that I am a person who has a pretty good handle on things. I like the thought of being rational and poker-faced. Since I hold these thoughts in high regard my logical mind creates stories to support this persona. But….emotions are the real driver. Emotions are subtle little ninjas that get the logical mind to justify just about anything it really wants while making you believe otherwise.
Test it out…next time you are justifying doing something that isn’t logical (frivolous purchase, ridiculous vacation, or having an extra drink, etc), the logical part of the brain is working hard to build a story to get you to fulfill the emotional request.
I mean, think about it! Watch an ad or commercial…they only appeal to the emotional center of the brain. Advertisements, programs, and commercials are just planting emotional seeds for you to act on at a later date. So, KILL YOUR TV! Hahaha…I will save that post for another time.
(Wait, do you want to know how easily a person can influence you??? All they have to do is appeal to the emotional part of your brain and validate your self-image…yeah…it is that easy.)
Everything that you experience in your life passes through the emotional hemisphere of the brain first. It has to get through this area before it can even get to the logical hemisphere. To complicate matters, a person cannot be in both hemispheres at the same time. This is why we have cliches:
“Never make an important decision when emotional” or
“Count to 10 before saying something out of anger”
So right now I am really working on balancing these two out. It is very important to feel our emotions and process them. Don’t bottle them up or they will figure out a way to escape (which usually results in a questionable behavior….watch your kids- they exemplify this as they figure the world out).
Also, it’s just as important to honor the logical part of the brain. Without learning how to get logical we will remain emotionally unregulated (cue up a child’s temper tantrum). The remedy to help bridge over to the logical brain:
Pausing allows us to exit the emotional part of the brain and enter into the logical part of the brain. If you can do this and build a habit around pausing you will become more regulated and in control. This is a great habit to work with your children on. Who wouldn’t love well behaved, emotionally competent child with good critical thinking skills??? Wait…we first need to lead the way for them to follow.
What is a good test to determine whether or not you should build a habit of pause? hhhhmmm…..Have you ever been instantly triggered into anger from a comment some idiot (you’ve never met) has posted on Facebook or Twitter? Of course…we all have.
Feel and process the emotions so you can bring in the logical. You can’t control how you feel but you can honor the emotions without immediately acting on them. Emotions are just sign posts in the mind; they pop up, we recognize, and then act accordingly with the new information.
Balance the emotional triggers with pause. This will lead to opening the gateway to logical control.
I mean…don’t we all want to be Jedi’s? I do.
*Special thanks to Peggy Hoime and Jeanine Fitzgerald for the discussions around the power of pause. Great stuff that works!
Photo by Joshua Earle via Unsplash