Reflections: Blink vs. Think (Part One of Three)

Otherwise known as: Gut Instinct / Intuition vs. Logic / Reasoning

Most people that either know me or are acquainted with me would know that most of my decision making is typically borne thorough analysis. I spent a fair amount of my life using logic and reasoning as a basis towards decision making, that no matter what my instinct said about certain paths, my mind told me to give things a chance, wait things out, etc. What ended up happening was that I saw myself taking the high road quite a bit and by waiting things out I was unhappy… I wasn’t taking risks so I lost the spontaneity of my life. So I started listening my gut instinct and intuition more.

What became immediately apparent by changing this mentality was that a lot of life’s dramas – socially – seemed to have melted away. The stress that came with the internal war between my head and my heart disappeared. I became much more content with life and with the people in it, so I started finding ways to balance when to use logic and reasoning in my decision making versus using gut instinct and intuition.

Somehow, over the course of the past decade, I have learned how and when to use logic/reasoning and how and when to use gut instinct/intuition. In fact it has gotten to the point where a friend of mine have said: “You are the most compelling devil’s advocate: you are presenting a reasoned logical argument as to why I should go with gut instinct and rather than logic and reason.” I can be very persuasive when I want to be… apparently.

Before I continue with this post… let me explain what I am planning to do. This first post of three will be something of my own thoughts of logic/reasoning vs gut instinct/intuition and how I have come to use it in everyday life.

Then the next two posts will be my thoughts of two literary pieces that I have read in my lifetime and how they reflect or change my life and way of thinking:
Part TwoBlink: The Power of Thinking without Thinking by Malcolm Gladwell
Part ThreeThink!: Why Crucial Decisions Can’t be Made in the Blink of an Eye by Michael LeGault

For those that knew me in college or have only seen me from a surface / superficial level could very easily see the logical and reasonable thinking day in and day out. So where is the gut instinct / intuition? Simple. As I explained it to a couple of my friends:
Logic / Reasoning:
– should generally be used for short to mid term decision making
– should generally be used for any decision that ends in a tangible result
Gut Instinct / Intuition:
– should generally be used for long term / permanent decision making
– should generally be used for any decision that ends in an intangible result

Example: A friend of mine was trying to decide if he should get a tattoo from a friend of his from the army that recently became an apprentice for a tattoo artist. When he came to me with his dilemma as I asked the following questions:
1) Do you want a tattoo? Answer: Yes I’ve wanted one for a very long time
2) Do you want to help a friend? Answer: Yes, he’s been down on his luck and this is his silver lining.
3) Where would you have the tattoo? Answer: He is out in Michigan, making this a weekend trip
4) Can you get a hold of him? Answer: Kind of, he’s hard to get a hold of on occasion.
5) Will you regret it? Answer: I don’t know.

My friend even went so far as to say: “I want to get a tattoo, but my brain is saying NO!” To which I surmised, that at the end of the day he wanted to get a tattoo. So why not say “yes I want the tattoo” but try to get a hold of said friend to see what it would take to do so and see if the trip would work out on it’s own. It’s a nice, middle of the road answer and it allows “life” to decide the situation for you. In the end he didn’t get the tattoo because he couldn’t get a response from his friend in time to make the trip worthwhile.

So where are the thought processes? Well in the grand scheme of things the desire of getting a tattoo is more of a gut instinct desire. While as for the when is more of a logic/reasoning decision. The wishy-washiness of regret is really in how you make of it.

The problem though with using gut instinct / intuition in decision making is that people often (and I have done a lot on occasion) confuse those abilities with that of want, desire, passion, etc. Some of how I dealt this this dilemma can be read at a previous post… but I’ll be the first to admit that it took years for me to differentiate between those impulse feelings, so how to work around them?

I can’t say, it took me years to figure that out and it has helped me to understand some of the negative circumstances in my life. But more importantly it has helped me catch negative behavioral patterns and break cycles within myself that others would just continue with. Thus when a situation arises where another party insists upon something, I stop, wait, listen to what my instinct is telling me and decide from there what would be the correct course of action… as opposed to using my logic and reasoning to justify something that essentially intangible regardless.

So when someone re-introduced me to the book Blink: The Power of Thinking without Thinking, I realized that a lot of what the book had touched upon are things that I have been working on for years. How to rely on gut instinct and intuition? You have to start with knowing exactly where your biases are, and start working against them. Neutralize yourself, center yourself so that eventually your intuition becomes a much more reliable and valuable tool in your arsenal.

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