Making choices with our hearts or our minds?

decisions

It is interesting to explore the concepts of our hearts and our minds.  It seems that almost all of us are utilising each of them at one time or another in our lives. And at other times, we utilise both our hearts and minds at the same time. What’s interesting is not how we utilise our hearts and minds but when we choose to utilise them.

Most of us tend to associate the mind with intellectual and logical reasoning while associating the heart with the entire spectrum of our emotions. When we talk about analysis and calculations, the mind comes into the picture. But when we shift our focus to relationship issues and altruistic endeavours, the heart seems to take precedence. And it seems that almost all of us are struggling to strike a balance between the two.  The dilemma of decision-making ultimately lies with how we make our choices.  So, how exactly do we do this?

Personally, I feel that as human beings, we have two types of mind, the first being the “conscious mind” while the second being the “subconscious mind”.  When we say that we are using our minds, we are using our “conscious minds”. And when we say that we are using our hearts, we are actually implying that we are using our “subconscious minds”. So, what exactly is the “conscious mind” and the “subconscious mind”?

The “conscious mind” is what we have been using our entire lives. I will say that most of us utilise 90-95% of our “conscious mind” when we are awake. In layman’s terms, this “conscious mind” is that little voice that is in our heads, constantly telling us what to do through reasoning and logic. Some of us call this voice our own “internal dialogue”. We tend to trust this voice not through prolonged acquaintances but through the seemingly sound advice that it gives.  And it seems flawless (which it is not). Professional speakers use it all the time.  Self-motivational speakers use them to provide self-affirmations as well (Think “I can do this”, “All will be well” etc). But there is a flipside to this “conscious mind”, as it is the accumulation of our past experiences (unless we control our thoughts). Let’s use an apt metaphor. Think of a computer which – upon receiving a request from us -retrieves data from the hard drive, computes the data and subsequently returns us the result that we asked for. And all this while, the data that the computer uses to return us the results are permanently stored and never erased. It just accumulates over time. Replace the data on the computer’s hard drive with our memories and it can be observed that our “conscious minds” work in almost an entirely similar way.

Now let’s look at two examples and we’ll see how our “conscious minds” often hinder and impede the relationship process.  When a guest at a party wants to approach the host, some random thoughts ran through the guest’s head.  The “conscious mind” – being the voice – will scan through this guest’s past experiences with parties and social gathering and provide him with some internal advice. Should this guest have some bad experiences in the past with social gatherings, the output of the “conscious mind” will be somewhat negative, along the lines of “You shouldn’t approach the host. Have you forgotten the last time you have done so? The host ignored you!”, “Why are you wasting your time? Just indulge in the food.” etc.

Now, let’s look at the second example. A person sees someone whom he or she likes and is on the verge of approaching the other party when his or her “conscious minds” starts the dialogue going again: “Why are you doing this? Do you want to get ignored again? Don’t you remember that the last time you approached someone, you got ignored?” This person will probably have problems approaching someone he or she fancies over time because of the “conscious mind”.

If we were to observe the two examples as described above, we can see that our “conscious mind” works well for us only in the absence of negative past experiences.  And all of us have negative experiences. So, somehow, these negative perceptions of things will surface in the form of our internal voices, our “conscious minds”.

Now, let’s look at our “subconscious mind”, otherwise known as our “gut feel”.” This subconscious mind is something that guides us and – unlike our conscious minds which stop working once we are asleep – never sleeps. It is constantly awake and serves as our guardian angels. Let’s explore a few examples where our subconscious minds are being utilised. Some of us type the computer keyboard very fluently and very fast. Yet, when we are asked to write down the exact location of the letters in the keyboard, we can’t. Why is this so? At other times, we are lost in a shopping mall that we have visited before but we soon find our way out. How is this possible? What about the times when some writers attempt a “stream-of-consciousness” writing, whereby they just write whatever thoughts that come into their minds. Although the writing is inconsistent and haphazard (signifying the absence of our “conscious mind”), how is it that the writer manage to project his or her thoughts on paper? It has even been said that our “subconscious minds” are the ones controlling the daily operations of our body systems. For example, we do not consciously notice our breathing, do we?  All this serves to illustrate the fact that in the absence of our “conscious minds”, our “subconscious minds” take over. To use another metaphor, we can say that while our “conscious minds” are the tip of the iceberg, our “subconscious minds” is the rest. Unfortunately, most of us are almost fully utilising our conscious minds (much of which can be attributed to the conventional education system which emphasises more on the rational and the logical) while largely ignoring the existence of our “subconscious minds”.

There seems to be a strong co-relation between our conscious and subconscious minds.  Whatever our “conscious minds” say, our “subconscious minds” listen and act accordingly.   Therefore, if we are able to stop the internal voices in our heads and replace them with affirmations,  the quality of our lives will improve. Of course, we have to take the appropriate actions for our goals to materialise.

So, yes. I believe that we should make choices with our hearts and not our minds, except on occasions when we need to do something that involves some form of technicalities such as writing or calculations. This is because our mind tends to mislead but our heart never lies.

I will like to conclude this article with a relevant example. Consider a student who wants to enroll in a Mass Communication course because he or she has an interest in this subject. However, there is a large market demand for engineers in the job market. Should the student listen to his or her heart, joy and contentment will follow. However, should the student succumbs to market demands by listening to his or her mind and chooses to be an engineer, this decision will take its toll on the student over time and ultimately affect his or her work productivity adversely.

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One thought on “Making choices with our hearts or our minds?

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