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When to Use Instinct and When to be Rational

Updated: Apr 1, 2020

Understanding our habits of reacting with instinct and responding with consideration

Just like the referee blows the whistle and makes an instantaneous call, so does our instinct which instils confidence in the crowd or our mind. If left to fester, the crowd reacts at the referees ability to make decisions and leads him to second guess himself, as do we when we ignore our instinct it leads to rumination and second guessing.

By being part of a progressive society, we have been trained to consciously negate our instinct to our own detriment and to the benefit of the wider population. This goes a little bit beyond Freud’s idea of ID and Superego, as it is not necessarily a choice of morality and immorality but rather optics of how we are perceived by one another as a contributing member of said society.

If your natural response to something is to stop and think about it rationally, your propensity is probably more introverted and pensive, whereas, extroverts generally react instinctually rather than considerately. This is not a matter of one being better than the other, because utilising rational thought processes can create this neurotic loop of something that leads one to confusion, and the opportunity for an instinctual reaction is long gone. Likewise, reacting immediately to a situation, while it may seem like an honest characterisation, may not be that person's truth if they were to stop and consider things a little further.

If you were to identify with either of the above examples, I would advise you to try and play out the character of the other and observe how it feels.

The reason I use the extrovert / introvert personality types, is that reacting instinctually is an extrovert part of your personality, just like the introvert revert retreats internally to consider the matter. This is by no means a way of labelling people based on their response to a situation, because everybody has tendencies to both forms.

Deeper levels of instinct & the mind / body connection

As we evolve intellectually, we are able to recognise patterns and synchronicities intuitively. This is currently a spiritual practice and something that is not widely valued by society, however, as science slowly reveals tangible evidence behind preconceived spiritual concepts, the rational western world are slowly integrating these theories and practises into their culture. These instinctive practises which come at no cost to the ‘instinctive world’ I.e. religion, shamanism etc.

We have a tendency to link instinct to time, i.e. reactive, but it is more about feeling the response and how it resonates in your body. We have such a powerful antenna which connects to the universe through our mind, yet we allow our minds to clobber it and tell it that the intellect knows better.

Listen to your body, notice the change in heartbeat when someone says something that offends your beliefs, notice the lethargy when you are forcing yourself to go to the gym, notice that fulfilment in your stomach when your mind is telling you to eat a doughnut because it's bored and wants to be entertained.

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