Decision Making and Emotions

November 1st, 2012

When it comes to decision making, are you a thinker or a feeler? In the 1990s neurologist, Antonio Damasio, found that patients with prefrontal cortex damage, an area associated with emotions and mood, struggled to make basic decisions like matching socks. Even without brain damage, most of us find it harder to make decisions when we feel flat. Emotions are KEY to decision making, whether we realize it or not. Science now shows that decision making is 95% emotions and 5% reason. Emotions have enormous power.

Your communication will also have greater impact if you appeal to emotions more than logic. Dale Carnegie said, “When dealing with people remember you are not dealing with creatures of logic, but creatures of emotion.” It’s not about manipulating or tugging at heart strings, but connecting your message with the FELT needs of the other person. Make people feel connected, and motivated to change. Then they will change.

In decision making logic is important, but can easily become an infinite loop of procrastination. Sometimes you just have to boil it down to one key question. In the words of Carlos Castaneda,

Anything is one of a million paths.

Look at every path closely and deliberately.

Try it as many times as you think necessary.

Then ask yourself, and yourself alone, one question.

Does this path have a heart?

In other words, how do I feel about this decision? What is my gut telling me? How much passion do I have for this or that path?

Even if you think you’re too old to do something, or too young to do something, even if the risks seem great and the odds seem low, if your heart says go, then go.

We’re faced with a barrage of decisions. Which job to take, which house to buy, which politician to vote for etc etc. How can you make the most effective decisions about the big issues? Make your pro and con lists for sure. Seek advice from friends and professionals if it helps. Research and weigh decisions rationally. But ultimately, let your heart guide you. Which decision makes you feel empowered, excited and alive? Which decision gets you of bed in the morning with a spring in your step, ready to move mountains to make a start? Go with that one.

As Blaise Pascal said,

All of our reasoning ends in surrender to feeling.

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  1. Kenneth Vogt says:

    There is freedom in recognizing that you don’t have to decide, you can choose. The difference is this: for a decision, the reasons are in charge but for a choice, you are in charge. Of course you ought to consider the factors and opinions that apply. But your heart is going to be a lot happier with a choice than a decision. It is very liberating but perhaps not familiar. More on that here: http://www.veraclaritas.com/a-day-without-because/

  2. Alex says:

    You can either spend your energy making the decision or living IN the decision you make….this was a gift from a friend!

  3. Great article. Interestingly enough, Damasio also found that patients with severe memory loss would “remember” in a body-oriented way, how they felt about someone, even if they couldn’t explain WHY.  Our feelings outweigh the reasons!To quote Maya Angelou, “People will forget what you said. People will forget what you did. But people will never forget how you made them feel.” Damasio points out that feelings begin in the body as sensations. Part of those feelings are intuition, as you mentioned. I love your citing of Castenada and “does this path have a heart?” Caroline Myss said something like, you want to take the path with most light. If the question, even down to the smallest choice, doesn’t increase your light, take the path that does!

  4. Jasna says:

    I can say only that songs and pictures are important to the people from the first till the last moment on world.People  with dementia forget even who are their family members,but they will never forget their favourite songs.And till last moment they see pictures ,like movie( there is no movie)but they see this movie-pictures in imagination together with light.

  5. You’re absolutely right “We’re faced with a barrage of decisions” – quite scary when you think about it.  Well we have developed an app that should take some of the stress out of decision making (without resorting to a random means of getting a result) – please check it out at <a href=”http://www.decisionbuddyapp.com/”>decisionbuddyapp.com</a>or download for free from <a href=”https://play.google.com/store/apps/details?id=com.decisionbuddyapp.decisionbuddy&hl=en_GB”>Google Play</a>.

  6. Sana Yusef says:

    Hi,I like  all your tweets, and I retweet most of them, but it is my first time to hit your website, and it looks like a library includes all informations that I like. You are absolutely true regarding to the point that our emotins controls our decisions.