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The Unemotional Guide to Emotional Choices

Most of us are emotional beings; I say most because I have been told I don’t have any feelings. 😊 Of course, that is impossible…everyone has feelings! But some of us do take the emotion out of decisions where possible, focus on facts and take action based on those facts.  I am one of those people!  I see things in a very straightforward way, “this happened so here is what I must do”.  Easier said than done; In decision-making, emotions often lead the way, as do our past experiences.

Dr. Lisa Feldman Barrett, a renowned psychologist, in her “Theory of Constructed Emotion” argues that emotions are predictions rather than reactions, influencing how we perceive and navigate the world. It’s a fascinating, yet complex, aspect of our human experience – our decisions are significantly shaped by how we feel at any given moment. Recognizing this can be both empowering and daunting.

Joking aside about me being emotionless, I do acknowledge the power of emotion in my life. Emotions are compelling motivators; they drive us to connect with others, pursue our passions, and avoid harm. The joy of success, the fear of failure, the comfort of love – these feelings can guide us toward decisions that align with our deepest values and aspirations. In moments of emotional clarity, when our feelings align with our long-term goals, they can be incredibly beneficial guides.

However, emotional influence isn’t always rosy. Just as emotions can guide us towards positive actions, they can also lead us astray. Consider those mornings when the comfort of your bed wins over an early workout, or when the fear of rejection stops you from making that important phone call. Here, our emotions act as barriers, preventing us from taking actions that align with our larger objectives. The challenge arises because our emotional state is ever-changing, influenced by many factors that may have little to do with our long-term goals or well-being.

While it’s natural and often beneficial to listen to our emotions, it’s equally important to recognize when to push through them. This doesn’t mean ignoring or suppressing our feelings; it involves acknowledging them without allowing them to dictate our actions, especially when they conflict with our long-term goals. For example, writing this blog, after almost 5 years of doing the FFfT, there are weeks when I do not feel like to it, yet every week you get this blog in your inbox or on social media. Truth is, that even though there are weeks when I may not feel like writing this…writing it does make me better.  It improves my skills, and in many cases, researching some of the topics makes me better informed. I push though the feeling of “I don’t feel like it.”

I believe the key is balance and awareness. It’s about developing an understanding of when our emotions are in harmony with our objectives and when they are not. In moments where they are not, the strategy is to gently steer the ship against the emotional tide.  Sometimes it’s as simple as walking away and deferring a decision until you can think clearly.  It’s about cultivating the discipline to act in service of our goals, irrespective of our transient feelings.

Our emotional landscape is a powerful determinant in our decision-making process. While emotions can be excellent guides, aligning our actions with our long-term goals often requires pushing past immediate feelings. By cultivating a balanced approach, acknowledging our emotions but not being enslaved by them, we can make decisions that not only feel right in the moment but also align with our ultimate aspirations.

This journey of balancing emotion with action isn’t always easy, but it’s a path that leads to growth, resilience, and fulfillment. It’s certainly something to work towards!

“Try not to let your emotions affect your judgment.” – Walter Schloss

Have a great weekend.