Why do smart people make dumb decisions?
by MAREE ZIMNY
5th April 2021
WE WOULD think that anyone with a high level of intelligence would run through all the scenarios and then make the best choice, right?
Indeed, they often do, but something may have happened to them where making the right decision becomes complex, and they cannot choose the correct response at that moment, which is annoying for them and the people wanting an answer.
You can probably recall a scenario where you asked someone a simple question: do you want a cup of tea or coffee? or what do you want for dinner? or can you do this small extra project/task that must be completed within a tight deadline?
This added pressure to make another decision or do one more thing can cause a person to get into the flight, fight or freeze, get angry, storm out, cry, walk away, quit or some other irrational response.
They have no capacity left even for simple things at that moment.
Think of how many decisions you or they make in a day.
The bigger decisions may be more obvious, but do not overlook all the small ones.
On reflection, we may discover the person was in a state of overwhelm, fear, stress, or anxiety; therefore, they did not have access to the complete resources in their mind to choose wisely.
When people are in these states, the mind can experience confusion, a foggy brain, numbness, cannot interpret a simple question, and cannot think rationally or clearly.
They feel pressured as someone needs their attention and response now, which is next to impossible for them to do easily.
Living or working in a constantly stressful environment
Henry J Kahn, MD says it is easy to forget that stress is one of your body’s warning signals that tell you something is out of whack.
“If you ignore those signals, especially your emotions, you could become so accustomed to the stimulation of stress, ongoing tension and strain that stress can start to seem normal. When many people in a particular environment are stressed, they can create a climate that makes it more difficult for anyone to see his or her own stress clearly.
When you have a whole culture pushing high performance, sometimes people don’t want to admit it or address it.”
Mr Kahn notes some coping skills people use to help the mind and body cope with stressful events., which may not be beneficial in the long term such as: holding their breath; take substances such as caffeine, alcohol, tobacco; misusing medications; eating the wrong foods; or going extra hard at the gym or playing sport.
“These substances and actions may become a part of your everyday life even when not stressed because we are also creatures of habit or addiction,” he says.
Physiological stress responses
We can experience a physiological stress response by a perceived or actual threat to our safety or well-being.
We literally cannot think about anything except get to a safe place; our mind responds to the actual or perceived fear.
If a snake is in your backyard and you, your children, or pets are near it, and you have a fear of snakes, you may go into flight or fight or freeze response — an actual fear.
If you are at work and hate it there, have an enormous workload, dislike your boss, and they are ringing you, and you haven’t completed the job due to a ridiculous workload or timeline, you may go into a perceived threat for the security of your job.
Chemical responses in the body
Often, we can manage short-term stress, and some people thrive in a stressful environment; however, prolonged exposures can perpetuate cortisol dysfunction, inflammation and pain.
The body triggers the sympathetic nervous system and produces a chemical response to cope with the situation and releases cortisol to prepare for survival mode and have the safest and fastest possible outcome for you.
Cortisol is an anti-inflammatory and helps to trigger glucose reserves for energy and modulate inflammation.
It can stay in our body for up to 12 hours, just from one significant event.
Multiple events throughout the day will keep topping up the cortisol —so when will your body recover?
Discover resilience skills to improve well-being
Breathing Techniques: Breathe in a way that triggers your parasympathetic nervous system to release all the good happy hormones to balance the body.
Slow, deep breathes into the heart or chest area
Diaphragmatic breathing techniques
Discover some great breathing technique by Heart Math Institute, Wim Hof, Patrick McKeown and James Nester.
Meditation: A variety of methods takes us into a state of mediation, such as gardening, swimming, yoga, Thai chi, sitting still, knitting, breathe work, reading a book et cetera
Self-Talk: Learn to be kind to yourself. Often people will beat themselves up for not having answers, think they are worthless and so forth.
Stretch and Exercise: Remember to include the physical body to help with the flow of blood and energy in the body.
Coherence vs Relaxation
When you are relaxed, you do not necessarily want to run a 100m sprint or have a tennis game with a strong competitor; however, being in a coherent state, it’s more of an active, calm state and perfect for a run or sports game, work environment and making smart, effective decisions.
If you find yourself not coping as well as you once did, you can download a free ebook, 12 HeartMath® Tools for Reducing Stress and Staying Balanced
Maree Zimny is a qualified Clinical Hypnotherapist, NLP and HeartMath®
Certified Trainer and Quantum Frequency Coach.
Specialist in Anxiety, Stress and Communications
0403 325 858