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How To Make The Right Decision When Your Heart & Mind Don’t Agree

We all know that we need to choose right over wrong and good over bad. These are some of those initial lessons we learned from our parents. However, no one has taught us how to make a decision when there is no obvious right or wrong; when our heart and mind don’t agree upon a choice; when the future and the consequence of our decisions are hard to predict. The irony is that, these are the kind of situations we face as opposed to the ones we are prepared for.

Most significant decisions we take in our life can’t be confined to the dual perspective of right & wrong. The decisions like choosing between two careers where one caters to your passion while other takes care of your financial need; or choosing a life partner between two prospects where one seems more compatible whereas the other seem to challenge you to become the best version of you are not as simple as choosing right over wrong.

What makes these choices tough is the fact that no choice can be explicitly said is better than the other. As human beings we have these conflicting needs for safety and adventure and if we look at these situations we could see that each of these choices is fulfilling one or the other need we have. And, no need can be said is more important than the other, unless and until we understand what we value most in the given situation.

Instead of looking within to clarify and prioritize our needs, if we stare at the options to find which one is better, or hope to be certain about future, we would remain stuck forever. The other way we keep ourselves stuck is by refusing to prioritize our needs for the fear of missing out on something.

Follow your heart

Who doesn’t know we should follow our heart? But, how do we follow our heart? How do we identify what our heart wants us to do? What is the role of our mind if we are always supposed to follow our heart? – These are some of the questions that made me curious to explore this concept beyond the second hand interpretations I could gather.

The wisdom behind the phrase ‘follow your heart’ is that, future is not a mere extension of past, hence completely relying on our knowledge that is based on past to make a decision is a limited way to approach a future that is filled with endless possibilities.

A lot of people have interpreted this phrase to mean one should act based on feelings, rather than depending logic. This interpretation fails to capture the true essence of the phrase. Feelings or emotions are not a reliable ground to base our decision.

This might raise the question that if it is not our thoughts or feelings, then what other faculty could we depend while making a decision. This is where the role of values comes into picture. While thoughts and feelings have their roots in past experiences, values could have its roots in a future we dream for ourselves.

To make decisions based on values doesn’t mean we should disregard the past based knowledge or feelings; it just means we choose not to get limited by it. For example, while considering quitting a well set job and pursuing a passion, even though our logic may show all the guaranteed benefits of sticking to the job, and the option to pursue our passion may not guarantee tangible benefits, we may still choose the latter if we value courage, learning and passion. However, if we value safety and comfort more, we may choose to stay in the job.

No option is better than the other in this case, but depending on what one values the option suited for them would change. The most important thing to know about following our passion is that, it doesn’t make our life easier or comfortable, but it does make it more real and authentic. This authenticity will give us a power and freedom that nothing else can give.