To many people who know me, this might sound contradictory: I make my best decisions, when I am emotionally charged.

Say, what? You’re right, how can a person in an emotionally charged state make any decisions based on logic and consideration of consequences? Isn’t that what makes a decision good? Logic and consideration? So, with the light of reason shining on us now, how can the oh-so analytical Nicolite Великий condone decisions made in the heat of the moment?

There is a story behind this.

Last week, I told my roommate that I was planning on moving out. I couldn’t take it anymore. His depression was infecting me, I was getting caught in a swamp of regrets and suffering from a terrible loss of motivation. And that when Life was actually, from a statistical point of view, improving rapidly. What does that say about statistics? I digress.

Coincidentally, I had an on-line voluntary test appointment with Dan Mullin for his philosophical counseling. Let’s just say, it’s a real testament to his talent as a counselor and philosophical expertise that it still has this kind of impact on me. Yeah, right, I haven’t even told you what we talked about in the session. But you might have guessed it: The guilt I was carrying for abandoning my best friend, even though I thought (think) it was (is) the right thing to do, hoping that things might get better, but not quite unlikely turn out disastrous for our friendship. Having weighed the possible costs and benefits, knowing that I was choosing between two degrees of evil, of course I couldn’t feel good with the decision, but it had been made, and a decision is a decision is a decision.

Or so I thought.

Tonight, I returned home, emotionally charged, because that’s what I do now before I go home. My friend was still awake, so I asked him, how he had decided. The decision I had given him to make had similarly bad choices: Pay me out for the kitchen that we had bought together, or buy the account that I had put up as collateral for the apartment. I’m not going into specifics now, but he told me his decision was printed, on the table. Basically, it was about what he didn’t like about what was happening, and that he held back on so many occasions… So, I told him, that that was exactly the problem: He was holding back. I mean, he’s depressive, so what do I expect? Depressive people don’t/can’t talk about what is bothering them because they don’t believe anyone would seriously listen. I can’t cure that, I’m not a mental health professional, but damnit, who else could he express himself to than his best friend?

So, I told him that he needed only say a word, and I wouldn’t move out. It took me a while to make him say anything usable at all, but finally he said it: Don’t move out.

After I told him that I would call to tell the real estate agent I wasn’t going to rent the apartment after all, he asked me, if I didn’t want time to cool and consider. So I told him, that I made my best decisions when I was emotionally charged.

Back to Dan: We also talked about how humans were extremely bad at making forecasts. Thinking about how something might turn out helps, but it’s no use. Our emotions, however, are the key to understanding our motivations, and thus to our decision-making. I’m not saying that we shouldn’t think about our choices in a rational way, but without our emotions, ration will have no reason.


10 thoughts on “Emotion

  1. Reblogged this on The Unemployed Philosopher's Blog and commented:
    Nicolai, who volunteered for one of my sessions, has written a very moving post about the issue we discussed. I had nothing to do with his decision to disclose it; usually, of course, everything a client says to me remains strictly confidential. I applaud him for his courage and candor in sharing this story and I’m honored to have played a small part in it. I reblog it here with his permission.

  2. Now I need to do a rational analysis of all my important decisions in order to find out if this is true for me as well. But I tend to agree – probably we take (good) decisions intuitively and only rationalize later, providing lengthy lists of pro’s and con’s etc. ..
    Do you have an explanation why the best decisions are taken in an emotionally charged state?

    1. I have considered explanations, but they are very speculative, since they are based on a set of ideas and hypotheses that are empirically not well documented.

      But the way I imagine it, our emotions reflect a vast collection of memories that we don’t have conscious access to – our intuition. If we try to decide without consulting our emotions, we deny our personal history.

  3. Can’t get away from gut feelings. They seem to be ignored by people, who prefer rationale, yet if you ignore a gut feeling, you do so at your peril! I know from personal experiences! If something lingers within, a feeling based on nothing more than emotion (or intuition), then the feeling is very real and needs acting on even if the rational mind disagrees. In this emotion based decision making, I agree with you. Usually at the end, emotions rule the decision your rational mind made you defer. Fab post and interesting post!!!!!!!!!

    1. (: First of all, thanks. Second of all, I do get the impression that when people don’t act on their feelings, depression is not far off. So it is the case with my brother, and with my best friend. Not saying that one shouldn’t cool their jets once in a while. There needs to be a middle ground there. I am having a very strong memory there, and it asks for me writing about it, so I probably should do just that

      1. No problem at all 🙂

        I agree, we cannot act upon all our emotions 100% of the time. We tend to perhaps not express them enough of the time though! I agree this can lead to depression, feeling restricted by perhaps the strictures of societal expectations. Emotions are too often ridiculed.
        Indeed you must write it down!

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