Do you consider yourself a practical person? If so, is there a part of you that feels kinda annoyed when you hear people talk about things like "heart-centred leadership", "heart-led business", or offer advice such as "follow your heart"? I recently heard a nice anecdote that the reason we have a neck is so that the heart doesn't drive the mind mad. That sounds about right to me! Today, we'll be looking deeper into this relationship between the mind and heart in the context of how we make decisions.
ONE MINUTE INSIGHT
Whether intentional or accidental, we all have an internal decision-making process that we tend to rely on. ▶ When you make decisions, is your primary tool your mind or your heart? ▶ When you feel like emotions are dominating over your ability to think clearly, what do you do? ▶ What becomes available to you when you create intentional time and space for your mind and your heart to have a say on your life? Based on your answers, consider whether the relationship between your head and heart could do with a bit of attention.
DEEPER DUE DILIGENCE
When you're trying to get some good quality thinking work done, emotions coming up to hijack the scene can be pretty irritating, or even destructive. It's easy to demonise them. I recommend to avoid that. But don't simply flip the script, and feel that every choice you make should be governed by raw emotion. Years ago when I studied to become a Clinical Hypnotherapist, my mentor introduced the Rules of the Mind as a set of principles to help us understand the forces at play which seem to govern the mind. This is the principle relevant to today's topic: "In a battle between emotion and logic, emotion always wins." - Marisa Peer (but not only Marisa Peer...) Since then, I've heard the same concept taught by many different thought leaders in the personal development space, from old school pioneers like Napoleon Hill and Jim Rohn to more modern mind "gurus" like Tony Robbins. I even dug out some essays on Socrates that evidenced that he too was exploring this concept deeply more than 2000 years ago. Albeit with a little more nuance, which I love. We're not here for a history lesson, though. We're here to explore how to live more powerfully.
So, let's start with some definitions: The HEART - emotional, colourful, warm, beauty, tragic, complex, expansive, reactive. The MIND - rational, logical, reasoned, cold, calculating, slicing, ordered, reductive, responsive. It seems that to live only from the mind would be boring. And to live from the heart might be chaotic. However, if we continue to define this condition of possessing intelligence from both head and heart as a "battle", then I think we are going to struggle. I'd assert that we need a little of both. A reminder that we don't play the either/or game here, we play the both/and game. Last year I stumbled across a recording of an interview with rabbi Tzvi Freeman that offered a new perspective (at least to me) on this important relationship. He suggested that when our inner world is in good order, the mind rules over the heart. Essentially, the heart collects information from the lived experience and filters it up to the mind ((1) below). The emotional experience is then mediated through a mind which is powered by intention, and as a result access is granted to a deeper level of the heart that offers a more complete level of wisdom - one that possess reason and order but that is also connected to beauty and warmth ((2) below). I'm taking the liberty to call this part the wise heart. A character that we could say embodies this way of being is Morpheus, our kind and capable father figure from the Matrix.
If it's not your cup of tea to look through the lens of religion, please look around that for now. Give yourself permission to take what's useful and leave the rest. Just for a moment, imagine making decisions from a place of balance, discernment and intentionality. Imagine choosing a "right" set of actions to take in a given set of circumstances, without losing connection to the colour and diversity of the emotional experience, be that a positive one or a negative one. Where could that be useful in your life? I can think of a few ideas: - Making business decisions - Making investment decisions - Deciding how to navigate a relationship - Deciding how to progress a career - Navigating a(n) (unexpected) transition - Fighting Agent Smith What I love about this concept is that it's not dogmatic. It invites us to consider the logical rational side—for example, looking at relevant KPIs when buying a house—while also allowing the humanness of our emotional experience. "Okay darling, I know that this house is priced €20k over the market valuation, but we have enough savings to cover it, we expect to stay a long time, and I really do love everything about it. I want to make an offer." But wait... we missed a step. What do we do about a mind that is not in "good order", where things feel a bit chaotic? At a guess, I'd say that you've had a personal experience or two that evidences what it can feel like when that's the case. Thankfully, the rabbi offers a shortcut to create order: "Don't just do something, stand there." (Read that again if you didn't smile, even a little.) Yep, boring I know. That old trick of stopping and doing nothing for a moment, or longer. If it's a bigger puzzle, perhaps sleeping on it if you can. Creating some "white space" where you don't have to do anything. For me, going into nature alone. Then invite back in those emotions and see how they might need to be mediated by the mind. I want to offer one caution in getting comfortable with exposing yourself to both head and heart in choosing your way through life: Avoid the lie that there is one optimal decision that has no negative consequences. Almost all decisions will come with some form of agony, or sense of loss. They call this the opportunity cost in economics. The word 'decide' itself comes from the Latin de- ‘off’ + caedere ‘cut’. There is no perfect decision. If you find that your mind is constantly too busy to mediate your experience so that you can feel effective, it may be that there is some interference that's making it difficult to do so. Old unconscious thought patterns, excessive stress or a past history of trauma can cause much trouble in bringing the head and heart into coherence. If you suspect this could be the case for you, I recommend to speak to someone who can help. I'm happy to have a talk with you about that, and will be very open with you about whether coaching could benefit you and whether a form of therapy could be a better option (for now). I'm here to help.
MORE TO MUSE ON...
What I'm reading: I went back to review this blog from the Conscious Leadership Group that explores the connection to head, heart and gut. If you feel disconnected from your emotions or instincts, and really feel that taking a pause doesn't do it for you, you might benefit from reading this short blog and trying the 'Whole Body Yes' visualisation.
What I'm watching: well, re-watching. The interview with rabbi Tzvi Freeman that I mentioned. The style and language chosen isn't for everyone, but if you can watch with an open mind you'll likely gain a lot.
What I'm writing about: I don't like to comment too much on politics, but hey, I've mentioned religion in this email so why not go for a double header?! I wrote a LinkedIn post about the mythology at play around the resignation of Jacinda Ardern. You can join the conversation below. I'd be glad to hear what you think!
Is there a decision you're currently sitting with that you're struggling to find comfort with? Try taking some time to create space for your heart and your mind. They're both useful, and neither of them need to be ignored. I hope what I have shared today has given some insights on reaching more internal clarity. Feel welcome to reply with anything that's on your heart (or mind).
Enjoyed this? Subscribe here.