A member of an online group I’m in recently shared this:
“Without doubt, the most common weakness of all human beings is the habit
of leaving their minds open to the negative influence of other people.” –
While very true, this statement is also problematic for me. It’s easy to interpret someone’s comments as negativity if they disagree with you. Or conversely, negative comments can appear to be well meant advice.
How do you distinguish good advice from bad?
My inclination is toward the rational. (And yet I read and write romance — go figure.) I’ve read books and articles that recommend understanding and setting priorities, goals, and values in order to overcome procrastination and facilitate decision making. I’ve even given talks on this subject. But when push comes to shove, what are priorities, goals, and values except emotions dressed up in rational clothing?
So how in touch are you with your emotions? Pretty much every decision we make, no matter how rational we think we’re being, has an emotional component. In fact without emotions, decision making is often impaired. Apparently reason without emotion is like a rider without his horse — he’s not going to get anywhere.
Still the horse needs the rider too. Alone, emotions will urge us to take the course of least resistance, the advice that we like best, and that won’t always get us where we want to go. No Olympian enjoys all her workouts.
And when we’re given conflicting advice, or advice we don’t like? What then? Which chooses, horse or rider? Some consciousness researchers might argue there is no such thing as conscious choice. That the neural network that makes up our “self” processes input, and the result is a conditioned response that another part of our network labels a “decision.” These researchers say there is no ghost in the machine, there’s only the machine.
This may be true, but the “ghost” is too useful a concept to discard. Sifting through advice and making decisions may be difficult, but I’m not yet ready to throw out the idea of free will, and the choices and responsibilities that go with it.
So how does your “ghost rider” decide where to go?