There are 3 sections in brain and each of them is responsible for a part of our behavior but most importantly they don’t have the same level of priority. that’s the source of every terrible decision we’ve ever made.
Here’s the list of sections based on priority.
1. Reptilian brain
This part is responsible for our survival, we have no control over it. It’s the part that controls your heartbeat even when you are sleep. Basically if your heart is not pumping blood you can’t make any financial decisions so we won’t talk about this section.
2. Limbic brain
This is where the brain turns the black and white world to a colorful world that is worth living. Our emotions are processed in here. Love, hate, fear, pleasure and etc are the results of limbic brain. It acts like CSS for HTML. Despite its fun nature there is a drawback to it, it can only process short term things; you hardly can think about consequences when your mind is filled with dopamine.
This is the reason why you yell at your friend and destroy your friendship when you are angry.
This is the reason why you ask your crush out even though you know you will be rejected and heart broken.
This is the reason why you’d rather watch YouTube memes rather than studying for exam,
and so on.
Emotions are a necessary part of life and by no mean we should attempt to remove them from it, but we must acknowledge that it exist and affects many parts of our life.
This part is the last part of the chain (aka the weakest one with the least priority). The long term planning module.
Neocortex is responsible for our logical thinking and being rational. So whenever we are talking about “heart vs mind” we are actually talking about “neocortex vs limbic brain”.
So why are we bad at making long term decisions, whether it’s financial or anything else? it’s simple; when data arrives at neocortex, they were already processed by limbic brain so we are basically processing our emotions in a logical manner. the decision is already made, we are just trying to accept it in a rational way.
Neocortex is slower than limbic brain, our emotions can process so many things at an incredible speed but neocortex takes time. That’s why we rush into buying things when we like them even though we don’t need them. If neocortex had the time to kick in, it would’ve prevented us from buying it.
Many people think by numbing their emotions they will be better planners but i guess it’s like saying “i’ll buy a more powerful CPU for my computer and then i’ll throw the RAM out because i don’t need it anymore”. It doesn’t work that way.
In order to be better at making long term decision, we must accept that emotions are always involved and instead of fighting it we must kind of understand it and after that they don’t seem to be against logic, they will be synced with our rational side.
Next time you wanted to buy something (smartphone, house, even stocks) just be aware that your emotions are involved and are pushing you to do so.
Remember, whatever you buy is something else that you didn’t buy so is it the best thing that your emotions want?
The best way to prevent irrational spending or investing, is to let neocortex syncs itself with limbic brain which means you have to wait a few days before doing what you want to do.