Have you ever wondered why we don’t always do the things that we should do?
Some of the usual answers are procrastination, laziness, unwillingness and they are certainly correct. But the bigger question is… Why do we feel that way? Why do we sometimes struggle to make a decision? Why do we sometimes feel conflicted when we are faced with a perfectly clear situation?
Well, let me introduce you to the two-sided brain.
Don’t get me wrong, we all have one brain. But this organ is not a single-working organism. In fact, there are many different parts to it which means that each one of them is controlling a different part of our being. That is why we often feel like there is a war within us. That is the reason why the duel going on in our mind is always loud and never-ending.
Because there are two sides. On one side, there is the emotional (feeling) brain and on the other, the rational (thinking) brain.
Here, let me paint the picture for you.
The rational brain knows that eating junk food, smoking, and skipping exercises are all habits that are bad for your health, but your emotional brain often does everything in its power to convince you to keep doing those things regardless of the consequences.
Your rational brain is responsible for sensory processing, constant analysis, learning, creating and preserving memory, making decisions, reasoning, and problem-solving. The emotional brain on the other side represents your emotions, instincts, impulses, and intuition. This part is also known as the feeling brain, or in other words the irrational one.
Each of your brains has its own weaknesses and strengths. The rational brain is always accurate, objective and methodical, and that is exactly what makes it slow in the decision-making process. The emotional one on the other side is often fast, reckless and inaccurate.
So, because of their vast differences, these two sections of your brain are always competing against each other.
But, even though most of the time it feels like you have to pick a side, these two parts of your brain cannot really function independently. It’s true, you cannot make a rational decision if you are overwhelmed with emotions. But at the same time, you cannot be rational if you don’t let your emotions guide you.
Why is this, you ask?
Well, because it is not our rational mind that drives us to action. It is our emotional mind. That’s right. Emotion leads to action. And action leads to emotion. To make the right decision, you have to feel that way. There has to be a certain spark inside your heart to light up the fire.
While the rational (thinking) brain is always there to help us analyze the circumstances, weigh our options and make calculated choices, the feeling brain is the one that makes the first step towards action.
When we think about the decision-making process that we go through on a daily basis, we assume that it is always the rational brain that actually leads us. This is something that we’ve been raised to believe. That in order to achieve something or eventually gain control of our life, we must first shut off our emotions and let logic get behind the wheel.
But, as I previously said, this assumption is one of the biggest mistakes we make in life. Just because our rational brain provides us with logic, that doesn’t mean that our decision should always be based on that. Whatever we do, we must never forget that our gut feelings and our intuition are an essential part of our ability to think. Rationality cannot exist without emotions.
Even when we are convinced that we are making proper, rational decisions, in the core of our decision, there is always an emotion that is leading our way. Reason never encourages us to do something. Emotions do. Because no matter how rational a decision is, if something inside of us tells us that it is not the right thing to do, we won’t do it. We won’t obey our Thinking mind. We will join our Feeling mind.
Now, our problems begin when we choose to follow one side of our brain, rather than find a way to balance both the emotional and rational parts. As a result, the overindulgence of emotion impairs reasoning, and the over repression of our emotions leads to a crisis of hope.
To avoid going crazy, we must find a balance between these two. In fact, that is the most important thing we can do for ourselves.
The balance of power between our emotional brain and our rational brain plays the most essential part in creating our decisions that eventually shape us into the person we are. This is what psychologists refer to as emotional regulation. It is only when we’ll find a way to align both our brains around the same values, that we will finally be able to gain self-control.
The truth is, it will most likely be difficult at the beginning, but one thing we should always have in mind is that the dialogue between both minds should never stop. In fact, it should go on forever until our feeling brain accepts the fact that it is important to always rely on our reason before making decisions and our thinking brain starts recognizing our emotions and learns how to listen to them.