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Common sense says the brain isn't always useful

Posted May 21 2010 8:32am
Logic doesn't always make sense. I know this. I am by profession a psychotherapist, coach, and educator and most people who seek my  help and advice arrive when logic doesn't work.

Typically, when we speak of problem, it is suggested that we think and talk about the problem and apply logic to solve it. When people are struggling with a dilemma, decision or problem, the conventional suggestion involves thinking -- using common sense to figure out the problem:

Think before you speak.
Think it through.
Think out of the box.

Now, thinking is a good thing. We can remember times when we have used our brains. We made lists of pros and cons about a certain decision and followed a plan of action that sounded really good in our heads.
There was just one problem – when the logical solution was applied to real life, it didn’t work very well.

We have an idea about how wonderful it would be to go on this vacation or have that romatic partner or purchase this great new outfit. That’s the logical mind speaking. We can have lots of reasons to back up the rightness of our desires.

In my own life, I’ve had the opportunity to  relearn this concept many times, and I am sure that you  have as well. Remember that wish that you really, really wanted to come true. Maybe it was that perfect job that turned out to be a nightmare bcause you were't prepared for the 12-hour days? Or that gorgeous big house that seemed like a really great real estate investment until the bottom fell out of the ecomony and you strugged to pay your mortgage?

That brings us to another old piece of advice:

Be careful what you pray for.

It seems that many times when we get what we’ve been wanting, the experience we receive is quite different. A loyalty to logic presumes that we have control over our world. It further presumes that we can predict everything that will happen:

Such as: 2 + 2 = 4.
However, life is not logical. For instance:

How is it that a woman claims to be a loving and caring mother buys heroin with her son, teaches him how to use the heroin and uses the drug with him?

How is it that a man says he wants to be healthy but eats a double cheese pizza every day followed with a chaser of three doughnuts?
How is it that a woman is terribly abused but does not leave her spouse – even when financial help and refuge is offered?

When we ponder these questions, we see that there are limits to logic, just like there are limits to our control over the word. For some people, the logic of the solution – follow me on this – lays in other kinds of advice:


Follow your heart.
Listen to your gut.
Go with the flow.

But this advice is bare of real content and direction during the decision-making process, especially one that will have repercussions for a long time to come.

What does it mean to follow your heart? And how do we separate what we “want” from what is really “right” for us – if there is anything that is really right for us?

Walking between the brain and the heart is truly a spiritual challenge that call us to examine our inner yearnings. In the next blog post, we'll examine this idea of logic more closely.
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