(Published 17 April, 2012 in CharlestonGrit.com – “Are You Steering Your Own Ship?”)
ON MAKING DECISIONS
Do you make your own decisions? Most of us think we do. Yet, much of the decision making process is influenced by subconscious and preconscious processes. For the most part, we are unaware of these processes and their influences upon us. Of course, dream material is influenced by these processes but most dreams we don’t remember and even then, the dreams are rarely “rational”. This is because our subconscious knows no reason – it knows only “wants” or “fears” and generally it’s bubbling with intense emotion.
Wait, you say… What about free will? We are taught that free will exists and indeed it does. However, to utilize free will “freely” implies 1) we are aware of our subconscious influences and 2) we choose to overpower them or give in to them. What most of us actually do is give in to these influences without actually realizing the extent of the power they exert over us.
I guess some of you are wondering if all this is important or practical. Let’s say you could get a new Toyota Prius at Toyota of Charleston. You could also get a Corvette convertible at Rick Hendrick’s Chevrolet and a Maserati at Maserati of Charleston. I think you see where I’m going with this. Maybe you could save money at the pump with the Prius. But maybe you’re going to get more looks with Maserati and more powerful performance with the Corvette. We have a conflict between frugality, narcissism and power. What ever choice you make, I would endeavor to bet your decision is 80% based upon emotions and subconscious factors. If you are at that stage of life where you have “mid-life crises” I would raise the odds you don’t get the Prius.
Big deal – who cares about what car you decide to purchase. I agree. Have a variety of cars so that depending upon your particular emotional desire on a certain day, you can choose to be frugal and wise, snappy and stylish, or “King of the Road.” However, can we have a variety of wives or husbands? (Now days, I guess we can although probably not at the same time. But that is an unusual idea – a garage with multiple bays for multiple spouses.)
Let’s say we want to have a marriage that consists of one single relationship for a lifetime. Let’s say we want that relationship to be fulfilling and intimate and rewarding. Let’s say we want each individual in the marriage to potentiate the other’s development and help them to reach their full potential. (That would mean we could save money and get by with just a 1 or 2 bay garage.)
In this hypothetical case, we would want to be certain we made the RIGHT decision the FIRST time around. The stakes are obviously higher in this scenario. So, what’s a person to do?
“The better we know ourselves, the better decisions we make in terms of being happy and in adapting capably to life.” I don’t remember who said that but I definitely believe in the statement. So we need to know ourselves. What are our strengths and what are our weaknesses. We need to know what it is we believe in and what we don’t. We need to know what is right for us and what is not. We need to have a good idea what our own fears and wants may be. Let’s bring those sub and pre conscience yearnings closer up to our conscience awareness. Once we know all that (not certain at what age this occurs – perhaps we’ll identify it as maturity?) Then, we can set out to find another person that has similar values (we both want to marry on the Sullivan’s Island Beach as opposed to The Hibernian Hall) and to whom we are attracted.
In summary, our decisions tend to be influenced by factors which are not usually in our conscience awareness. The better we understand ourselves, the better is the communication between sub and pre conscious influences and our conscience mind. To the extent we are in touch with these influences, we are in a better position to make adaptive decisions. Adaptive decisions lead to greater happiness and fulfillment in life.
Oops – sorry to anybody that’s already made important decisions without realizing this. Maybe things will work out anyway.