How we see the world
In her book, My Stroke of Insight: A Brain Scientist’s Personal Journey, Dr. Jill Bolte writes, “Although many of us may think of ourselves as thinking creatures that feel, biologically we are feeling creatures that think.” In fact, evolution has designed us this way. Within our brains, we have the limbic system and the neocortex system. The limbic system, also known as the lizard brain, is very old. It has been with us since our caveman days. This is the part of the brain that oversees our emotions and decision-making. The neocortex system is relatively new to us. It controls language and logic.
Working with this system, it becomes vital that we remember two things.
First, our initial thoughts and “decisions” will always be made by the limbic system. They will be guided by our emotions in that moment and influenced by past beliefs and experiences. Only then will they go to the neocortex where we will rationalize and verbalize them.
We cannot deny the impact our emotions have on our decisions and accompanying actions. Trying to remove them from the equation will exclude vital information we need to assess our motives and conclusions. By acknowledging the impact of our emotions on our thoughts and behaviours it gives us the freedom to examine them.
This leads us to the second important thing to remember. You don’t need to accept or own what the limbic system passes along to your neocortex. You can exercise control at this point. You don’t have to serve up the first thing it presents you. You can take a moment to decide if it’s what you truly need and can decide to send it back. You get to create the story at this point. You can decide to examine the emotions and beliefs that are fueling the decision and choose whether you will rationalize it with logic.
You can ask yourself, will this move me forward? Will it help me reach my potential? Will it create a good experience? Will it help build a relationship?
Or, is it coming from a place of fear that will keep you stuck, create a bad experience or hurt a relationship?
We must recognize that we all feel sad, angry, frustrated and hurt at times – both at work and home – and these emotions have the power to drive our actions and behaviours. But we don’t need to accept them as is. We can act and control the logic and words behind them.
When making decisions remember that the story you tell yourself about these feelings needs to help you, not hinder you.
A TEAM HUMAN CONVERSATION
Fight workplace zombies in your organization and join Team Human! Gather a group of fellow workplace zombie hunters to discuss our most recent blog post. Use the questions below to kick start your conversation.
Think of the last big decision you needed to make; what emotions might have fueled it?
How often do you examine the role your emotions play on your actions and decisions?
What are things you can do to make sure that your emotions are not sabotaging your decisions?