head & heart

Heart Versus Head

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Why is it sometimes I need to “listen to my heart” (Roxette flashbacks!!) and other times, fight to keep emotions from taking over? Why is it always my heart versus my head?
In general, I am a thinker. I like to ponder things, try to figure out why they are they way they are, how things work and whatnot. This is usually fairly easy for external physical, visible things, but I also think a lot about the invisible parts, my interior – my thoughts, emotions and beliefs. And I’ve come across a very strong theory that our emotions are actually controllable by our thoughts. Think about it – our emotions are constantly changing. We can be cheered up by someone saying or doing something nice to us. We can start out a day in a good mood only to have it fouled by someone being mean or rude. And if we choose to dwell on that event, replaying it in our minds, we’ll let it ruin our entire day and more. So, even though nasty things happen to us, it’s up to us if we choose to expend mental energy on it and ultimately it’s up to us if we let it bother us at all! Some things are easier to let slide than others, no question. So, is it too much to say that it’s possible, using our conscious mind, to determine what our emotions will be? Can we decide how we will feel at any time?
I think so! I don’t think it’s unreasonable to attempt that at all! I’ve heard that thinking certain things causes certain chemicals to be released, which has effects on the body – an easy example is how thinking you’re going to die causes adrenalin to flow which causes all sorts of stress responses (fight or flight stuff). But there are far more subtle ones too, like thinking you’re not good enough or that no one loves you. I don’t know what chemical soup is involved, but it’s not too hard to see what effect that will have on your body – I suspect a slower metabolism, poor posture, depression, even wrinkles would be the result! So the more we can control our thoughts – choose to think certain things and to not-think other things (even if the thought pops into your head, not to dwell on it) the more we can take charge of both our bodies and emotions.
So getting back to whether or not to trust our emotions… I think that if we know we are thinking clearly, not affected too much by exhaustion, hormones or fears (phobias, panic, everyday fears, etc) then our emotions must be trying to tell us something that our conscious mind cannot – similar to how dreams can speak to us. So we should listen to that voice inside us while it’s still small. If we ignore it, it’s going to get loud, even showing up as physical ailments! But if we are feeling overwhelmed and completely stressed (with other emotions piled on top of that) then we should be cautious when listening to our hearts, because we aren’t thinking well and those muddled thoughts are probably causing the emotional stew. In those cases, we need to focus on what we know is true, reinforce our thinking with good diet and sleep, and counteract negative waves with positive ones – consciously thinking positive whenever we realize we’re on a negative train of thought.
I’m not saying I have it all figured out, either… One downside to being a thinker is the stuff that cannot ever be completely figured out! So I am learning how to accept what can’t be explained and not worry about it! And I’m getting better at it all the time! Take care, everybody!