How Not to Make Bad Decisions

bad decision

Photo by Dr Stephen Dann

I like to say that I make stupid decisions, but if I make a bad decision, then I am in trouble. Stupid decisions are just decisions that I probably would not have made if I knew more about the outcome. Those are no big deal because it is hard to predict outcomes. However, bad decisions are ones that if I would have thought through in the moment, I probably would not have made. They are the ones that if I would have thought about for 5 more minutes, I would have not made. One very good way I have found to avoid them is to realize when I am emotionally compromised.

Emotionally Compromised

This is when I have to many emotions, and cannot think clearly. This can be any emotion: anger, hate, love, sadness, and many others. It is when I cannot make a good decision because of my emotions. Most often people are blinded by anger. It is the reason a bull cannot see how easy it is to run over a matador, instead it blindly gets distracted by a cape. In the same way I can get distracted by non-important things because of emotion. I love the Allstate commercials, here is one that explains the term emotionally compromised well.

Emotionally Compromised and Making Bad Decisions

A lot of people say you need to control your anger. As if you are in a fight with your emotions, and you need to subdue them. Well let me tell you, if there is a fight between your emotions and you, they will win. Emotions have a way of cropping up in unexpected areas, and taking you down before you know it. Instead, I am going to suggest to just recognize them. Recognize that most emotions are OK, but do not let them make your decisions for you. Recognize what your feeling, why you are feeling that way, and what your feelings want you to do. Then think if that is the best decision. Just thinking “I want to fight because I am mad” makes a person less likely to fight.

Waiting to make Decisions

When I am emotionally compromised, I can feel it. I can feel it inside my heart that I am not going to make a good choice if I let myself. If I feel this way, I slow way down. It is a protection mechanism. Normally I will make decisions without much worry, because I know I will generally make OK decisions. However, I know that I do stupid things when I am emotionally compromised. So I do not make a decision. I think if this has to be figured out now, if not I will postpone the decision until I am more able to think rationally.

Not Regretting Decisions

By just trying to figure out my emotions, what they are motivating me to do, and waiting to make decisions, I regret fewer of my choices.

4 Comments

Dan O'Neil

about 6 years ago

I totally agree with this! We're programmed to think that our emotional responses are not acceptable - right from being little when we're told to calm down or that it doesn't matter, we're being silly... Emotions are essential - they tell us how we feel about something. If you look at a small child, they allow their emotions to totally be present... then they express them in the moment and the next, they are gone again. As we grow, we "should" learn to allow them to be, without allowing them to dictate our actions and then they dissipate. Emotions are great - but as you say, we need to just recognize them, or observe them, and above all remain detached from them.

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Eric Peters

about 6 years ago

Good comment. I have seen people pretend that they do not have feelings. That all it is to, pretending. Feelings are OK, and usually a better motivator than logic. The problem is when people make stupid decisions because of them.

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Bradley J. Moore

about 6 years ago

I have been reading some good material lately about research on the concept of "detachment" which is a psychology practice where you consciously distance yourself from emotions when they become damaging or self-sabatoging. You know, when that little voice in your head takes you down a negative cycle of self-talk? Those are times when bad decisions can be made. Best to step back, take a deep breath, and get perspective. I like your idea of postponing the decision until you are more emtionally distant. That often works for me too.

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Eric Peters

about 6 years ago

I think not letting emotions make horrible decisions is a good idea. However, many people take it to far and seem to demonize emotions. Emotions can motivate us to do bad things, and good things. I agree with you that using negative self talk can lead to a downward spiral of depression.

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