It was raining that day I met my friend at the pub.
“I have just lost my girlfriend over a heated argument because she was seeing someone else, behind my back, and wanted to break it off between us.”
“I’m sorry to hear that.”
“I hate her and I never want to see her again. I’m better off without her. I feel free now,” my friend shouted.
But as he was saying this, tears welled up in his eyes.
“It’s funny though, I still feel sad when I talk about her. Why is that?”
My friend was looking for answers.
“Bartender, two beers here, please.”
The beers came and we both took long gulps.
“Well, my friend, we all have TWO minds.”
“Two minds? I thought I only had one,” my friend said quizzically.
“No, you have TWO. One that THINKS, the rational mind, this one is very aware, thoughtful and able to ponder, reflect and analyze. And one that FEELS, the emotional mind, which is impulsive, powerful and sometimes illogical.”
“So, how am I to know which one to use?”
“It’s difficult because we can be so reasonable at one moment and so irrational the next.”
“This is getting confusing.”
“Sometimes you don’t have time to decide which mind to use because the emotional mind is quicker than the rational mind, it springs into action without considering what it is doing.”
“Yea, that’s right, sometimes I jump into action and then later think, “What did I do that for?”
“That’s your rational mind kicking in.”
“How can I control these impulses?”
“Well, our feelings come to us as a fait accompli. A thing that has been done and decided and can’t be altered. But the rational mind can CONTROL the course of your reactions. So don’t be overly emotional and react, wait until your thinking can control those reactions.”
“Easier said than done.”
“That’s right, but it can be done if you get into the right habit of thinking before acting.”
“Not all our reactions are shaped by rational judgments, a lot are shaped by our distant past.”
“How’s that? Said my friend, looking perplexed.
“We have lots of automatic reactions left over from our evolutionary history. These reactions were the difference between survival and death.”
“Now it’s getting scary!”
“Relax, I will explain. In the Stone Age we were wired with these emotions(fight or flight) to guide us. It worked well for thousands of generations, but certainly NOT the last ten. The forces of evolution have shaped the way we react and it worked well for a million years, but with the rise of civilization, this emotional evolution sometimes hinders us. So, we confront modern dilemmas with the emotional reactions tailored to life in the Stone Age.”
“WOW!” My friend was gobsmacked!
“Another problem I have is that when someone scowls at me I react with fear.”
“Well, you told me once that you were beaten by your father when you were a child. Your father probably scowled at you before the beatings. Now, you react with fear when someone scowls at you, even though the scowl carries no threat to you.”
Everything you’re telling me is scary. Now you are telling me the PAST imposes itself on the PRESENT.”
“That’s right. But the good news is the two minds, the emotional and the rational operate in harmony for the most part and they guide us. There is a balance between feeling and thinking minds, with emotion informing the thinking mind, and the thinking mind refining and maybe vetoing the emotional inputs.”
We both finished our beers and walked out into the SUNSHINE.