The following is an except of the FREE version of the 'How to Make the Right Decisions, Every Single Time' course that I've put together.
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Did you know that when it comes to the big decisions in life, like which house to buy, or what place to live, or who to marry, your rational brain is really only rubber-stamping your final choice? The real decision on these big ticket items is being made by your gut, or your emotional brain, and it’s then passing that choice up to your rational brain for the formal sign-off.
I know it doesn’t always look like that, because the rational brain is very good at coming up with a whole bunch of justifications and rationalizations as to why the decision you made is the best ever, even if really it isn’t. That’s the source of all those cognitive biases we talked about, back in the last module.
Let’s use a couple of common examples, to show what I’m talking about here. Say, someone is addicted to cigarettes. At the emotional level, at the physiological level, they feel they need the nicotine, that the nicotine is filling some sort of emotional need.
(Technically, they’re right, because people only get addicted to substances in the first place because on some physiological level, they enjoy the sensation it gives them and end up craving more of it.)
Now, you can take the cigarette addict, and you can show them all the stats showing how many smokers die from lung cancer, and from emphysema, and all the other nasty diseases. Then, you can show them how many hours of their life they’re wasting every day stuck in the smoking room, or out by the front door of their buildings. Then, you can give them a huge pie-chart clearly spelling out how much many they’d save if they quit their habit; and how many people they may be poisoning with the second-hand smoke – and it won’t make a blind bit of difference.
What’s going on here is that all of these arguments are being made to the rational, cognitive brain, and they’re all good, watertight reasons to stop smoking. The smoker themselves will probably agree with you 100% that quitting would be the best decision they ever made – but unless and until they get their emotional brain onside, they simply can’t get there.
Because it’s the emotional brain that’s really pulling the strings, and we first have to find out the real reasons that person wants to carry on smoking, and to frame the argument in those terms, if we really want to get somewhere.
The same thing holds true for any addictive, negative or self-destructive behavior or habit you care to mention. You can make as many rational arguments as you want to about how junk food is bad, and exercise is good, and how important it is to work on reducing your anger, and reducing your anxiety and stress, and getting more motivated, but until you start talking the language that the emotional brain understands, you’re going to be stuck at square one, unable to move forward.
This is such an important point, I’m going to repeat it:
Rational arguments are great for the rational brain.
Your frontal lobes loves all the statistics, and the research and the information, and the facts you’re filling it up with. But especially on the big decisions, your rational brain is not the one who’s in the driving seat. Your gut, your emotional brain, is the one calling the shots, and until and unless you recognize that fact and start talking to the emotional brain in the language it understands, you won’t be able to get out of the gate, when it comes to making a good decision and sticking to it.
In the next module, we’re going to discover what language the emotional brain speaks, how to understand it, and most importantly of all, how to start communicating with it, so we can get it on board in our decision-making process.
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