Do you believe in magic? (We’ll come back to this question later).
My career has mostly been in IT. Technology geeks like me tend to think very logically and rationally. As a stereotype, we don’t pay much attention to things like emotion or intuition.
For me, that started changing a few years ago. I started to have much more respect for emotions and intuition.
In his latest book, Everything Is F*cked (which is fantastic and you should definitely read it), Mark Manson uses a brilliant analogy of the human brain.
We can imagine our brain has two halves: a logical, adult side, and an emotional, childish, irrational side.
We can imagine a car being driven by our brain. Most of us think that the adult logical brain is in charge – it’s in the driving seat. And the emotional childish brain is sat in the passenger seat, along for the ride.
But for those who’ve studied a little psychology and neuroscience, it seems like we’ve got this backwards.
In reality, the childish emotional part of our brain is in the driving seat and has immediate control of the car (our life).
… And sometimes it decides to do some crazy shit, like drive off a cliff.
Our rational brain tries to plead with the emotional side to be reasonable. “Adult” us can see further into the future and is fantastic at navigating, but ultimately it has to relinquish immediate control to the emotions.
This is not necessarily a bad arrangement. Emotions are incredibly powerful. Often they provide far greater fuel and energy for change than pure rationality.
Ever notice how the entire advertising and marketing industry seems set up to appeal more to our unconscious emotions, rather than using plain logic?
Emotions are what make people act. Weirdly, our rationality only later provides the justifications for our decisions, post-hoc.
I find it fascinating looking at how our rational, conscious brains attempt to negotiate with our emotions to make ourselves do what we want.
Recently I’ve been experimenting with this in my own life. It’s a bit of a tennis match between the two halves of my brain…
Rationality: “I’ve had this cool seeming idea about X, Y and Z. How do you feel about this idea, emotional me?”
Emotions: “Yeah, that feels exciting! Let’s drop everything and focus on that cool idea immediately!”
Rationality: “Well, we have other priorities too. We need to take care of these other more important things first. But I promise, you can have some ice cream later after we’ve got all the boring stuff done.”
Emotions: “Woohoo, I love ice cream! Let’s get that boring but important stuff done right now! Let’s go!”
For me personally, I don’t think it’s wise to lean too heavily on either half of my brain. Thinking isn’t more important than feeling and vice versa.
My life seems to work much better when I assign equal priority to both sides and try to have a negotiation process between them. Like a lot of things in life, balance is key.
And so we come back to the title of this post, Intuition, and the question, “Do you believe in magic?”
Intuition is a kind of magic. Our emotional brain is very good at taking a quick look at a situation. It can rapidly give us a gut feeling about whether something is good or not.
So, don’t write off your emotions as if they are are inferior to rational thought. Equally, don’t dismiss rational thought merely because it takes longer and can feel difficult. Use both together.
Use your inner child and your inner adult. Become an integrated whole. That’s where the magic happens.