Do Feelings and Decision Making Go Hand In Hand?
Everyone has feelings and these feelings serve a purpose. If humans were not allowed to express emotion and behave in a certain way, we would probably not work very effectively. Feelings are vital to our everyday lives and throughout the day, we can experience many feelings about many things.
Feelings help us to grieve, allow us to process events, and help us to survive. Imagine if you did not feel hunger, would you remember to eat? Feelings are necessary and yes at times uncomfortable but on occasion these feelings can help us understand things that might need to be changed.
Feelings can also influence the decisions we make. The brain plays a role in our feelings—how they are processed and how they are regulated. In addition, when we make decisions, our brains go into overdrive trying to figure out the best way to make a decision before, during, and after the decision was made. We can make decisions that maximize our potential or specific situation yet some are limited by information from our past.
We make decisions every day—what to eat, what to buy, who are friends are, etc. Often, our feelings can influence our decision-making abilities and can influence whether or not a decision was the best one to make given the circumstances. How do emotions play a role in our ability to make decisions? Imagine a situation where you feel anger or fear. This feeling will allow you to produce a result or how to respond to the situation.
Feelings can however, get in the way of making productive and worthy decisions. Remember the last time you experienced an overwhelming feeling of anger or sadness. If you were to make a decision about something during this emotional state, do you think you would make a sound decision? The answer is probably not. Feelings are powerful forces and at times they may prompt us to make decisions that are not in our best interest.
According to researchers, anger and fear are the two biggest feelings that influence decisions we make. Interestingly, happiness can also influence decision making. The best way to handle feeling-based decisions is to remove yourself from the situation and take time to breathe. Clear your mind and address the anger, fear, sadness, or even happiness first.
The ideal situation is to make decisions that are based in reason, not emotion. Decisions that are made while experiencing a feeling can often be made too quickly. Decisions that are made when you are calm and not experiencing an overwhelming feeling are made more productively and can have better outcomes. There is a saying in 12-step meetings that we should never make decisions when feeling hungry, angry, lonely, or tired (HALT). There is a reason for this. Stay calm, breathe, and allow reason to guide your decision-making ability.
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