Updated: Mar 9, 2021
Did it ever happen to you although logically it was right you emotionally stayed away from the logical solution?
How is it possible that our beautiful amazing 100 trillion brains cells in our Head Brain are not able to overrule our emotions?
Maybe you do not know this but our emotions are dictated by two other Brains our Heart and Gut brain and those two communicate in emotions.
The Heart Brain in love, connection and hate and the Gut brain in survival, fight and flight.
As our head is the centrum of logic and reasoning you can see why it is hard to be aligned sometimes, 3 different objectives.
Also based on means of survival, our Gut brain who’s main objective is survival always “wins” in the final decision making. When someone does not feels save for whatever reason (s)he will fail to see the logic.
When safety is there but love or hate is present, our logical thoughts will be disturbed or not seen at all, you just have to think of all the fights divorced parents have over the children and how hate can destroy every logic.
They loved their partner in the past and they have kids together but when love turned into hate the children are collateral damage in their fights.
So how is this possible ?
The ability in having a good and open discussion and see things clearly our three Brains needs to be able to filter good information from bad, relevant experiences and learning from things that are dissimilar or irrelevant.
That level of insight requires a process of education. And our world is filled with people who want to train your brains to see the world as they do, or as they want you to. Even though our parents and schoolteachers have the best intentions most of them still like to colour your worldview as they see it.
As the ability to think critically is not something we are born with; it is a discipline that needs to be developed.
In short, our Brains can become unmoored from the real world and start supplying us with misguided notions that it cannot distinguish from reality. When they do, we start making bad decisions based on errors in how we have interpreted our own lives and experiences.
Somewhere in our three Brains, we all have lodged some irrational beliefs. They are not always a bad thing. For many people, accepting a belief on faith alone — like a religious philosophy — is an essential.
But there are many ways that a cognitive process can go awry and disrupt our ability to make good decisions.
In psychology, we call this ‘cognitive distortion’. You can recognise this when people make generalisations such as, “It is always like this”, or, “This can never happen”. It is also seen in ‘black-and-white thinking’, for example, “You are good” or, “You are bad”; there are no shades of grey.
Other instances of cognitive distortion are excessive rumination and over-analysis, usually when the person is in bed and would like to sleep instead.
You can also recognise it when people are using language of necessity, saying words like, ‘should’, ‘must’, or ‘have to’.
Finally, people with cognitive distortion tend to jump to conclusions/mind reading/fortune telling and say things like, “Because of this, it is that”, or, “I know what you think”.
When people’s Brains, due to an upsetting experience or incorrect information, start supplying these cognitive distortions, certain beliefs can be installed to make life ‘easier’.
These, in turn, can undermine the person’s abilities to function and can cause real problems.
There are all sorts of coping mechanisms used by our Brains to deal with a trauma that it cannot explain. For example, beliefs like the ones listed below can prevent a person from making good, well-considered decisions:
I am not good enough.
Men/women cannot be trusted.
I’m no good at…
I’m fated to be…
You can’t get ahead if you are a woman.
Relationships are just too hard.
People will always let you down.
I’ll never be able to do what I want because…
Limiting beliefs like these are an indicator that some trauma is clouding our logical thinking. They are shortcuts, learned along the way, that skew a person’s perception of reality.
So coming back to the first question: When logic fails, what is left?
Actually it is easy, only 3 steps to remember and to follow.
Step one to deal with the with Gut Brain: take it safe, what do you need to feel safe?
Step two to deal with Heart Brain: stay connected, what do you need to stay connected with yourself?
And step 3 to deal with the Head Brain: understand before being understood, what is the logic I am missing?
When you follow this process 9 out of 10 you will be able to align emotions and logic to a combined solution.
Professor organisation and behavioural leadership at IE Business School.
Clinical Hypnotherapist/psychotherapist and Executive Coach.
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