Do you remember the time when you got entangled into an emotional conversation with somebody and reached into an undesirable outcome? In hindsight, you might have realized that you could have controlled your emotions and behaved differently.
This is quite normal and It happens with each one of us in our daily life, both professional and personal side, across each age group. So just relax. Let me demystify the two sides of mind; emotional and rational and understand how does it work together to make a critical decision.
Many of us believe that emotions come on our way to rational thinking. Yes, it’s true that excessive emotions can cloud our thinking, but this is also proven scientifically that it is impossible to be rational without being emotional. In fact, emotions and logic are not mutually exclusive but intertwined.
Try observing yourself next time when you are in a shopping mall and come across a new model of your favorite brand (mobile, TV, laptop etc). It might suddenly create an emotional appeal in your mind despite being a little too expensive. As your emotional desire weighs more, you start looking for evidence to support your intent. The stronger the emotions, the bigger the belief and the greater the push to convince your rational mind with data-points. And if you end up buying that, what would you claim about your decision-making process, an emotional or rational?
In fact, on many occasions, we have already taken decisions in our minds based on a bigger emotional pull and gut-feel. We only rationalize it later to convince that the decision was right
The famous neurobiologist Francisco Damasio points out that rationality depends upon a deeper system of regulation that consists largely of emotions and feelings. Emotion can disrupt reasoning in certain circumstances, but without emotion, there is no reasoning at all.
Damasio had a patient named Elliot who was a successful businessman. Elliot was diagnosed with a small brain tumor. During the operation, the neurosurgeon removed the tumor but accidentally cut the connection between the frontal lobe (center for thought) and the cerebral amygdala (center for emotions). Post recovery, Elliot had changed. Damasio concluded that the operation had separated Elliot from his emotions. He could think, but he couldn’t feel. Elliot retained his intelligence but couldn’t make any decisions. Damasio asked Elliot to pick a time for the next interview. Elliot responded with a long explanation about the pros and cons of various times, but couldn’t choose one. He simply didn’t have a preference.
Our rational mind can generate a series of alternatives and arguments, but decisions require an additional faculty. The mind needs to evaluate the emotional weight of each option and choose by way of feeling.
But does that mean we should make all the decisions based on feelings alone?
Remember, rationality provides you a framework and steps needed to reach a goal whereas the emotionality will act as a reason one will pursue that goal in the first place.
And how about a decision triggered through unconscious feelings?
Good decision require a state of mindfulness that’s not possible with unconscious feeling. Mindfulness provides a healthy flow of emotions that act as intuitive signals for important judgments in our day to day life. It also informs about what is important to us and what should we care about.
So emotion and logic work together. Each one of us is blessed with both the faculties. It’s purely up to us, how to remain mindful of our emotions and blend them appropriately with logic and make use of this combination to drive meaningful conversations around us for the betterment of our society, business, and relationships.