Yes, you did read that correctly. I said use your emotions to make better choices.
You see, you might not realise this, but when you are faced with a decision - most of the time emotion wins out over logic.
In fact, studies show that 80 per cent of the time people will make a choice based on emotion over logic. And, if you make a decision while feeling hungry, angry, lonely, or tired, studies show your emotional response will win out 100 per cent of time.
That’s because your brain is hard-wired to use emotion as a means to making decisions.
Marketing experts know this all too well. So do religious groups.
Your brain is hard-wired to use emotion as a means to making decisions. Marketing experts know this all too well.
Now I don’t mean this disrespectfully, but Catholicism has to be the very best example of this theory that I can give you.
Logically, scientists have proven that the Earth is more than four billion years old. There are fossils of dinosaurs, and proof of evolution. Intellectually we know that it is all but impossible that in the wake of a global flood an ark carried two of every species. Among other things, how did kangaroos get to the Middle East to board? How post-flood, did Noah and his sons create an entire population including different races?
There are many questions, but death is frightening and the ability to believe in a religion that sees us granted eternal life makes us feel incredibly better about the whole idea. An ideology that we don’t lose our sense of self, that we will be reacquainted with our loved ones.
These are some of the most powerful emotions possible, and so, despite the logic of science, we choose to believe because it makes us feel reassured. And there is absolutely nothing wrong with that, especially if it makes us better people while we’re here.
And how about standing on top of a tall building?
A while back I was lucky enough to visit New York and we went up to the Sky Deck of the Empire State Building. Even though there was no way I was in any danger due to barriers metres high, when I went near the edge my stomach lurched and the backs of my legs tingled. I was afraid.
Logically I knew I was not going to fall off the edge, but emotionally my mind had other ideas. I am embarrassed to tell you that my decision was to step back from the edge, even though it was perfectly safe.
How about when we eat what we know we shouldn’t? Text someone who is not our partner? Buy a $200 dress when we gave ourselves a limit of $50?
Logically we know all the reasons we shouldn’t, but we do it anyway. Why? Because of how it makes us feel.
This is a universal truth, backed up by neuroscience. Even if you choose logic, eventually emotion will win out in the end. In fact, most people will choose based on emotion and then find logic to back up their choice.
This is a universal truth, backed up by neuroscience. Even if you choose logic, eventually emotion will win out in the end. In fact, most people will choose based on emotion and then find logic to back up that choice...
Think about the last time you bought something for more than you intended to spend.
When you told someone the price, how many justifications did you come up with for the purchase?
It was on sale. You needed it because of X, Y, Z. It’s such good quality so it will last forever. It will go with everything. Having it will actually save you money in the end because you won’t need four other versions that don’t last as long…
Believe me, I hear you.
How about designer brands?
Everyone on earth carrying a Louis Vuitton or Gucci bag knows exactly why they bought it. Because it makes them feel like they're special, deserving, successful, stylish and so on. Logically, the bag itself is not so different from any other bag you could buy for $100, but the prestige of the logo and what it stands for means people will pay $2,000 because of how it makes them feel.
I know because I did myself – and have never been sorry!
That said, for an emotional message to be convincing there usually needs to be some level of logic attached.
For example, if emotionally you think it would feel amazing to fly like a bird, logic will probably kick in and tell you if you jump off the roof you will get hurt. Right?
So, while emotion wins out most of the time, some level of logic also has to be present, even if you create it yourself, like in the case of the expensive dress.
So how does all this help you?
Well, the point is now that we know emotion is the key driver for your choices, we can harness that power to help you make decisions that take you closer to reaching your goals.
So how do we do that?
First you need to figure out what motivates you emotionally.
Humans are hard-wired to do two things. Avoid pain and attain pleasure.
Humans are hard-wired to do two things. Avoid pain and attain pleasure...
The catch is, for most of us avoiding pain is the stronger motivator. But there are exceptions to that rule.
If you are like most of us and are more motivated to avoid pain than seek pleasure, you need to find a way to attached painful emotions to the behaviour you need to change in order to stay on track until you achieve your goals.
For example, if your goal is to finish your book then you need to attach emotional pain to sitting on the couch watching Netflix instead of writing.
Alternatively, if you are more inclined to seek out pleasure than to avoid pain, you need to attach positive emotions to the behaviours you want to create.
Now that we understand a little more about how our motivations create actions, think about what kinds of things create intense emotion for you, good and bad. This is how we will determine the best way to use your emotions to achieve your goals.
Download and print Pages 8 & 9 of your Workbook. Then in the columns provided, write down anything that comes to mind which stirs up strong emotion. In the positive column you might have things like providing for your family through writing, impacting people's lives, making people feel something, seeing your name on a book next to your author idols. These can’t be just goals. They have to be things that make you feel, that make your stomach knot, and your pulse race. Things that stir something inside you and compel you to act.
2. In the negative column write all the things that create a negative emotion such as fear, sadness, or anger. They could be things like coming to the end of your life and having never reached your potential, spending the next 20 years in a job you hate, letting all the people who tried to hold you back believe they were right all along. Again, these can’t just be regrets. They have to be things that make you feel an emotional response.
3. When your lists are complete read them back and see which causes the deepest emotional response in you. When you know whether you are motivated most by avoiding pain or gaining pleasure, use these ideas to motivate your behaviour. Draw on them whenever you know you're not behaving in a way that is helping you achieve your goals.
You can access Pages 8 & 9 of your print-friendly Workbook below:
Take me to my next lesson...