Emotions are everywhere in our lives. They are a natural part of being human, and they can have a profound impact on our thoughts, feelings, and behaviors. While emotions can be helpful, they can also be disruptive. In this article, we will explore the importance of understanding and managing our emotions.
How Emotions Affect Our Decisions
- Emotions can influence the choices we make, but they can also interfere with cognitive processes;
- It is worth making a habit of checking how emotions affect our behavior and choices;
- It’s worth focusing on being consistent between rational and emotional decisions;
- Practicing deep breathing, attentive listening, modulation and refinement can be helpful.
Most people rarely think logically and sanely when it happens, stressed and nerves. It is worth recalling in this context the famous scene at the Oscars gala, when Will Smith slapped the presenter. What conclusion can be drawn from this incident? A very seemingly simple and innocent comment from another person can trigger extreme emotions, and as you can see, not much is needed here. When we experience fear, our concentration drops and simple decisions come into play.
It’s natural that in today’s world, everyone lives in a constantly stress-induced narrow decision-making mode. This probably makes sense when escaping a trauma or dangerous situation, but such phenomena should not be allowed to become a habit.
Repeatedly making such choices causes so-called decision fatigue, as well as other resulting problems.
Imagine driving to work one day to give a presentation to the team. The weather is nice outside, and we are not late. But during this short trip we will almost certainly hit various forms of detours, ditched streets, accidents, and delays.
Sometimes it will take us more than an hour to travel the few kilometers to the office. No matter what choices we make in such a situation, it will get worse and worse. This seemingly minor stress has spoiled the mood for the entire day.
Most of us would surely agree that anger and fear destroy our decision-making process. However, most of us do not know how emotions – including joy, sadness, and indifference – can affect our decision-making process and the quality of those decisions.
Our rationality, or how emotions affect decisions
One of the main (theoretical) models of how the human brain works assumes that we rationally evaluate what we intend to achieve and work on the best path to reach our goal. Emotions impact the inner workings of our brain and often disrupt patterns and the rational thought process. While these disruptions can be good (like breaking negative habits), they can also be quite destructive.
Often, we don’t realize how important our mood and emotions are when making daily choices – especially those involving precious resources like time or money. However, if we recall some of the important decisions we have made over the years, we will notice that they were accompanied by a certain emotion – sadness, joy, anger, jealousy, or feelings of anxiety.
Some emotion probably helped you quit that job or punch someone in the face. Some emotion was likely strongly stimulated when we negotiated the purchase of an expensive car that we could barely afford, or decided to open our own business.
So does a person have a perfectly rational mind? Certainly not. Minds that constantly ponder whether we need something, look for the best alternative, endlessly research the pros and cons, and then analyze and choose the best one – all of this does not exist in most of us.
Emotional adjustment, or about balance
Our emotions range from extremely positive to extremely negative. Sometimes our emotions (moods, feelings, disposition) can help us tremendously. They help us be excited. and other times they can destroy us. An example? We get tricked into paying too much, buying a warranty we didn’t need, or simply not understanding what we are committing to or signing.
As with everything in life and nature, the key is balance. Healthy people seek balance, alignment, or compatibility between emotions and analytical patterns. Let’s use our emotions to our advantage and activate analytical thinking. This can be difficult, which is why it is important to…
Identification of emotions and self-awareness
It’s a good idea to start the whole process by trying to identify how we feel about something. Let’s ask ourselves: “Why do I feel this way? What makes me feel this way today?”. Let’s institute a regular practice of looking at ourselves or evaluating how emotions affect our performance and achievements each day.
Each night, let’s analyze ourselves, our choices, and consider making appropriate changes starting the next day. Diaries can be especially helpful in creating long-term memories and help us learn about ourselves and our reactions
If we can create self-awareness, we are in a much better position. Then we know ourselves well enough to know when not to make key life decisions. If we feel extremely emotional, let’s try to practice decision abstinence – refrain from making essential life choices. This will only work out in our favor.
How to make the right decisions?
Once you’ve figured out how and why you feel a certain way and what impact it has, work on improving your physiological responses to emotions and practice deep breathing. A large dose of oxygen will be helpful when strong positive or negative emotions arise.
Let’s practice attentive and relatively unbiased observation, and try to listen to our thoughts. This can help us tune into our feelings. Let’s work on self-modulation and regulation of our emotions, and strive to gain the best possible insight into ourselves. When we do this, we keep ourselves in a continuous improvement mode.
The advice at the end? Let’s remember to have full control over ourselves. Taming our emotions is a step in improving the decision-making process that affects our entire lives.