We often make decisions without thinking too much about their consequences and benefits. Our judgment is directly influenced by our state of mind at a given moment, and also by how our brain actively processes a particular concept.
There are many typical examples of instances when we have to make the right decision during a day. For example, whether to keep moving forward when a traffic light becomes orange or red, if we are in a hurry, or whether to resist certain additional and unscheduled expenses at the supermarket, if the temptation is too big, or whether to wake up in time to leave for our work, if we are “bored”, and many more besides.
The biological aspect a making a decision consists of three factors:
1. The sensory activation triggered in the brain by external stimuli.
2. This sensory activity which, after a certain limit that varies from one individual to another, will trigger the corresponding action.
3. The execution of an action through the decision we have made.
All these take place in a split second.
Nevertheless, human psychology plays a decisive role in making a decision.
For example, when faced with an uncertain circumstance, we delay making decisions even when matters are really simple.
There are times when we face a certain dilemma: should we act through a mental process that takes time before reaching a conclusion, or should we act through instinct and take immediate action, which is imperative when facing critical situations.
Mental processing may require some time, but contrary to instinct, critical and analytic thinking makes it difficult to be wrong. The more information we have on a subject, the more comprehensive and thorough our view of the subject will be.
Instinct, on the other hand, represents a kind of “unconscious intelligence” that grows from experiences we have accumulated in a certain field.
Mental processing and instinct aren’t conflicted; they actually work collaboratively in a given situation. A basic premise is to know what we truly want and where do we want to lead things.
Due to the fact that our emotional state directly influences the kind of decisions we make, it is necessary to allow ourselves ample time to listen to our emotions. They may be painful or pleasant, and also directly associated with our past experiences. In the present, we have to make decisions that don’t cast our emotions aside and reach conclusions about the benefits and costs of the decisions we will make, because everything has a cost in terms of effort, energy, time, etc.
In conclusion, I would like to point out that we will undoubtedly make mistakes; the point is to benefit from their experience and avoid blaming ourselves. Instead, we should always consider the things that we learn from our mistakes, in order to avoid repeating them. Our courage and decisiveness to take action are fundamental elements of life itself, as long as we always keep in mind what we discussed above.
Spyros Metaxas Psychiatrist – Psychotherapist