We’re often told to “just go with your gut feel”. Or as a hypnotherapist might say, “Let you subconscious decide!”
Letting our subconscious make our decisions for us works really well when we have lots of expertise about something, lots of experience, including times when we’ve made mistakes and learnt from them. It’s why great professional sports people doing team sports just seem to instinctively know who to throw or pass the ball to and where to move next on the playing field. Similarly, those in professions where split second decisions are vital have no choice but to rely on their subconscious coming up with the goods. Subconscious processing is much, much quicker than conscious decision making and is the only way in cases like this.
Subconscious decisions also tend to be useful when we’re making a decision about something that is highly subjective. Choosing a piece of art for your home is a process best served by a subconscious decision.
Studies have shown that if people are presented with different paintings and asked to choose one to take home, their ongoing satisfaction with their choice is reduced if rather than just choosing the picture they are drawn to they are asked to also explain why they like it. That’s because the “Why?” question brings in the logical thinking part of our brain, and we start evaluating pros and cons objectively which detracts from the decision.
When shouldn’t we just rely on Gut Feelings when deciding?
Whilst gut feel or subconscious processing can get us all the way sometimes, there are times when we’re better off interrupting the process to allow conscious thoughts in.
For instance in situations where we find ourselves being too impulsive, which gets us into trouble. This applies whatever the automatic, impulsive response is about. So we might find ourselves being too quick to react to something someone says or does, and almost before the words have left our mouth we’re left wishing we hadn’t uttered them.
And how about the times when we find ourselves reaching for an unhealthy snack or drink in response to a feeling we suddenly get, when we’d rather not?
Impulsivity can be great if we’re wanting to be spontaneous and enjoy a surprise trip or a meal out perhaps. It can be a bind though if we’re making decisions quickly which would benefit from a bit more foresight on our part.
Interruptions give us a chance to change things
When we interrupt an automatic response, we have an opportunity to learn new ways of doing things, new skills if you like, that generate a different, preferable response.
Bringing subconscious processes into conscious awareness also enables us to better understand them so we can facilitate changes to the processes themselves as well as our reactions to them.
Of course, whether we end up changing our responses or change the processes themselves, once we’ve embedded the changes, we can allow them to become subconscious once more. And at that point we are safe to going back to trusting our gut reaction!
Want to find out more?
Hypnotherapy can be a great way of helping us identify and change automatic subconscious thinking processes. If you’d like to find out more about how I can help you do that then please do get in contact.
I love to read and there are lots of good books on how we make up our minds about things. I find this one both easy to read and entertaining.