Generally things are fine and we make good enough choices from day to day, but all have those few bad decisions that seem like they were made by someone else. This regrettable decisions are often a product of your “fight or flight” response, which really wasn’t designed for much in modern society. It’s also something you can easily override.
Tony Schwartz, writing for the The Energy Project‘s company blog, suggests that while this response was great for being chased by a large boulder, it’s rarely helpful yet to often triggered in everyday, fearful situations:
The problem is that our bodies respond to any perceived threat – say, a critical comment from a colleague or a boss – by fueling the fight or flight response. We lose our capacity for rationality and reflectiveness, and we mostly don’t realise we’ve lost it. … Once stress hormones stop circulating through your body, the capacity to think logically returns. But that doesn’t mean we take responsibility for our bad behaviours. Instead, many of us use our prefrontal cortex to rationalize what we’ve just done without thinking. We seek to justify, or minimize, or deny our responsibility for behaviours that were in fact hurtful and destructive to others.
Schwartz suggests that the key to beating this problem is being more aware that it’s happening by watching for signs of high stress. This could mean your heart’s beating faster, or you feel tightness in your chest, jaw, or forehead. It also means recognising your compulsion to act. If you see yourself about to make a decision too easily, don’t do it. Hesitate first. Give yourself a moment to reality test your actions in your mind. Be your own devil’s advocate. If everything checks out, proceed. If it doesn’t, don’t.
It’s all pretty simple, but our emotions can often get in the way of logic. If you find this is happening to you, just make sure you take the time out to make sure you’re thinking clearly. You may find that you’re not.
Whatever You Feel Compelled to Do, Don’t [The Energy Project]