strategic thinking for the soul.

Have you ever been in a situation where your heart is screaming at you one thing, while your head is calmly yet sternly, telling you the exact opposite?

Welcome to my every day life!!

I am an emotional thinker. I feel deeply, I feel with an intenseness that burns and when I feel something, I feel it within every nook and cranny of my soul. Rational thinkers have always baffled me. You have the capability to override your emotions with an analytical thought process? With thoughtful, truthful reasoning? With LEVEL-HEADEDNESS? You may as well be speaking Mandarin to me.

A friend was recently telling me about his breakup; it was simply the end of the road, he said.

“But do you still love her?” I asked, wide-eyed.

“So much,” He responded, a small smile playing slightly sadly at his lips. “But I just know the relationship has ran its course. Why would I wreck something that was so good, so special, by dragging it out until there’s nothing left?”

I sat there, with my mouth agape.

I drove home, with my mouth still agape, my thoughts a cyclone, whirling through my oversensitive brain.

I got into bed, mouth still agape, question after question exploding into my thoughts, rendering it impossible to fall asleep.

Making a logical decision based on facts is something I have just never been able to comprehend, but seeing this right in front of me had really gotten my emotionally unstable wheels turning. Just how skewed is my decision-making process? Am I completely messing this up? Just how much rationale should I be implementing into my procedure when trying to decide on a course of action?

So, over the weekend, I did a bit of research, trying to discover whether or not my way of thinking was flawed, and if it was, just how far off the path of normalcy had I veered?

This is what I discovered:

  1. Humans are emotional beings. Even if my way is not necessarily the best way, at least I know I am not swimming in my excessive pool of tempermental tears caused by poor decision-making completely alone. How do we know that humans are emotional beings? Years ago, a neuroscience named Antonio Demasio was studying people who had significant damage to the part of the brain where emotions are generated. He found that these people had one thing in common: they couldn’t make a decision for the life of them. Because so many situations have both positive and negative aspects, making decisions purely on rational thinking simply wont allow you to come to a final conclusion. For example, trying to decide whether you should purchase a shirt in black, or in white. A case could be made for both. so how do you come to an answer, without tapping into your emotions? Your answer would eventually come from an emotional, not logical place – ie/ white connotes warm feelings that  black does not.  Similarly, when trying to decide whether or not you should end a relationship, a list of pros and cons can be made for both viable outcomes. To come to a resolution, eventually you will have to abandon your logical list and let your heart guide you.
  2. There are holes in logic-based decision-making, just as much as there are holes in emotion-based decision-making. These are called logical fallacies, routine errors in reasoning which will work against your logical argument, and they exist in more than one form. A faulty cause or slippery slope describes what happens when you expect that A will automatically lead to B, which will eventually lead to Z through a series of assumed steps. Broad  generalizations are another common logical mis-step: “This guy has a lot in common with another guy I dated before, so therefore, he will screw me over just like the first guy.” Either/or reduces the argument or options to two outcomes, when, in many situations, there are many more than just two feasible outcomes. These are just a few of the mistakes humans fall victim to when trying to solve an equation by exclusively using rationale. The human brain, while amazing, is still not perfect, and the heart and soul make a wonderful supporting partners.
  3. There is no “one-size-fits-all” answer for anything. It seems obvious, but what is right for someone else is not necessarily right for you. There are such a broad range of factors that contribute to what may be the correct route to take. I’ve come to realize that the best way to figure out your answer is to create a mosaic out of both emotional and rational pieces of information. “Gut” reactions are cultivated, not inherent, and while following your gut is often sermonized as the holy grail of decision making, throwing in some facts to that process likely won’t hurt.

So go ahead, let your hypersensitive-freak -flag fly! I’m with you! Like everything in life, I learned a lesson this weekend that seems to be a recurring illustration: balance is key. You can’t battle through the paths of life being guided solely by systematic deductions, but you also can’t let your often gullible and impressionable heart blindly lead the way either. A pairing of the two will likely best serve you, and when that isn’t enough, and you need a little more guidance, one thing I know for sure is that the songs of your girlfriends can work wonders.

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