At the Heart of Decision-Making Are Emotions

EmotionsInspired by Danielle LaPorte (author of the Desire Map and the Firestarter sessions), I have started asking myself, “What emotions do I want to feel more often?”

LaPorte suggests honing in on the precise emotions or “core desired feelings”, (for example, one of the emotional qualities I am currently chewing on is, do I want to feel “spacious”, or “expansive”).  Why is this process important?

Knowing how you want to feel can help you make good decisions about how you live your life.

Wait, what?!? Haven’t we been taught to believe that emotions fog our decision-making, that “clear-headed” thinking comes from taking emotions out of the equation?  Yes, we have and it’s totally wrong.

This has proven most troubling for women, who are cast as “emotional” (ie. not capable of making good decisions).

Evidence from neuroscience shows that emotions inform decision-making, and it is literally impossible to make decisions without them.

Think I am putting you on? Check out this story out from one of the world’s top neuroscientists, Antonio Damasio, about one of his patients,

“Formerly a successful businessman, model father and husband, Elliott suffered from ventromedial frontal lobe damage as a result of a tumor and subsequent surgery for removal.

It was clear to Damasio that as a result of his surgery, Elliot was incapable of making decisions, “Elliott emerged as a man with a normal intellect who was unable to decide properly, especially when the decision involved personal or social matters.” Even small decisions were fraught with endless deliberation: making an appointment took 30 minutes, choosing where to eat lunch took all afternoon, even deciding which color pen to use to fill out office forms was a chore.  Turns out Elliott’s lack of emotion paralyzed his decision-making.”

When we attempt to “keep emotion out”, there is an unstated assumption that emotions can be not felt or repressed. Sure, you can refuse to acknowledge the emotions but they are still there. And when emotions are not present, due to say, brain damage, your decision-making capabilities are nil.

So honoring emotion by allowing it to have a seat at the table is crucial to making good decisions. It’s going to color your experience no matter what, so you might as well take full advantage of its intelligence and listen to what it’s telling you.

You can also turn the exercise of knowing how you want to feel on its head when you need to do something you don’t want to do (for example, change a diaper). Ask yourself, “how can I do this in a way that makes me feel the way I want to feel?”

If one of my core desired feelings is gratitude, I can be grateful for the times that my mom changed my diaper. I might not seek out opportunities to change more diapers, but I can make it a little easier to deal with the experience. I’ll be discussing some of my core desired feelings in future blog posts.

I want to hear from you. How do you allow emotions into your decision-making process? What are you core desired feelings? How can invite those feelings into your life more? 

Also, check out my Intentional New Year group phone program to live with life with more intention and train the brain to allow your inner goodness to shine forth.

 

 

 

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