Thinking with the heart
Written by listed counsellor/psychotherapist: Judith Schuepfer-Griffin Registered MBACP, BA Hons
1st September, 20140 Comments
Some Native Americans were very surprised when they learned that "the White Man" thinks with his head because their experience was that one thinks with one's heart. Chief Mountain Lake said to the Psychologist Carl Jung when he visited the Pueblos something along the lines of : "We don't understand the white people; they're always looking for something; you can see the craziness in their eyes. What are they looking for?"
He was right, we're always looking for something, and many of us don't know what they're looking for. We live in a "rational" age and are proud of it. Intellect is what counts - academia, detached objectivity. We have huge problems in our society and can't find solutions. Maybe that's because we think with our heads, not our hearts.
Even a lot of counselling is now aiming to work on a rational level, not including the soul, the inner world. Our souls are parched, thirsting for attention and care, for space and time to express their creativity. To express emotions is frowned upon - it seems out of control and it doesn't fit neatly into a box. We're afraid of the irrational, the world of feeling, sensation and instinct. We're scared of what lies hidden under the surface of our rational minds and we have cut ourselves off from our hearts.
Some religious people have banned God (whatever God may be, maybe the force of life within ourselves?) into laws, rules and commandments. They even try to fit God into a neat square box. We live in a cold, rational world of intellectualism and the paradox is that the more rational we try to be, the more absurd our actions and decisions become because we can't see the whole picture.
What would it mean to think with the heart? It would mean to include feeling in our thinking: If you make a decision that affects others, how would it feel to be on the receiving end, to be in their shoes? Can you remember how it feels to be a child or teenager and to be bossed around by adults? To think with the heart means to connect emotionally with everyone and everything around us and to care.
If we only think in a factual way our relationships won't work and our hearts will dry up and crust over. We will become hard-hearted, towards others and ourselves. We will dismiss the little voice inside that asks: "Are you really living a rich and full life? Or are you just all work, facts, duties and no play? When did you last play, day-dream and let your imagination run wild?" We're always looking for something but we will never know what we're really looking for if we don't start to think with our hearts.
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