Is it hard to decide – take the help of mentalization

I am a gourmet. Night owls. Sluggard. Among other things, these are often invoked at a psychologist’s office to find out why a lifestyle change is not possible. As if the habits learned were permanent truths like the color of the eyes or the structure of the bones.

– They obscure contradictions related to one’s motivation and justify bad decisions or inaction, psychologist Aapo Kilpeläinen notes

We say we value health, success at school and good performance at work. Furthermore, we know what would make sense for these values, but we want something completely different right now.

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Instead of a run, a homework or a dream, we are attracted to a couch, a game or a movie. It is a key skill in decision-making to resist momentary pleasure or to see effort now in order to benefit later.

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An equally bad and common habit is for a person to toast the meter with red and put themselves in exhaustion or overtraining.

Kilpeläinen also encourages listening to the need for rest. It is perfectly permissible to decide at times to throw oneself into inaction, uselessness and inefficiency.

Are you moving forward on autopilot?

Decisions, even small ones, always cause us internal contradictions and uncertainty. That is why we make a bad decision or do not know how to decide in the first place.

The next time you catch yourself chasing, remember that no one makes decisions indiscriminately, but behind them are always values, either conscious or unconscious.

So a solid awareness of one’s own values ​​facilitates decision-making and helps with better solutions: I value nature, so I answer yes when a nature conservation organization asks for support. My decision is good for nature and makes me happy.

– Living and deciding according to one’s own values ​​guarantees that a person can do better and live happier on average, confirms Aapo Kilpeläinen.

However, it is not always clear what is the best way to implement your values. Throw in work for the financial well-being of your family or be very present in everyday life?

– In the event of a conflict, it is essential to make a weighted decision and think about what will happen to someone. It is easier to live with a difficult decision if the reasons for the decision have at least been clarified for yourself, advises Aapo Kilpeläinen.

Are you fast – or in a hurry?

Others are able to make smart decisions quickly. Then there are those who also decide quickly but stupidly.

– The more difficult the decision, the more uncomfortable and anxious it is. Because it is human nature to strive away from resentment and feeling bad, he quickly decides anything to get the thing out of his mind, Kilpeläinen describes.

Instead of rushing, we should use our conscious mind to deal with the emotional reaction caused by the brain.

Which one decides reason or emotion?

The common sense man analyzes the facts and decides on them. An emotional person gives his heart to lead. This is what we often think.

The racer knocks out the division.

Feeling and reasoning are not opposites of each other or the extremes of thirst. The opposite of reason is stupidity or incomprehension, while emotion is emptiness or numbness.

When neither decision-making is ruled out, emotional intelligence is used.

– Biologically, emotions are formed in the deep parts of the brain and reasoning takes place in the forehead. The better the connections between them work, the more likely a person is to make good decisions.

Sometimes the situation is obvious. Detecting a wolf evokes a sense of fear, and the rationale based on that emotion is to flee.

Everyday situations are less exciting, but even in them it is important to learn to listen to the emotions and the needs behind them.

Do you know how to mentalize?

Kilpeläinen talks about the mentalizing ability that all good decision makers have.

Its absence, on the other hand, is a common denominator when a person is limping in his or her decision-making or often regrets his or her decisions.

– Mentalization means the ability to observe and become aware of one’s own and others’ thoughts, feelings and needs. It is also an advantage to be able to observe information moving in human relationships and to combine information.

Or do you trust intuition?

Although the world has changed completely, the brain is functioning in the same way as it has for the last 10,000 years. Their job is to keep us alive, so they communicate their perceived danger as soon as we have an important decision ahead of us.

– The brain is like a smoke alarm that alerts you to smoke. We have to interpret whether it is a fire that threatens our whole lives or just pepper shakers in the oven, Kilpeläinen compares.

Compulsively fast-paced people often say they decide intuitively. Coincidentally, the decision may be the right one, but the hollow feeling is not the same as the inner vision, the development of which takes time and inaction, even boredom.

– When we think about it from different perspectives in our minds, but do not consciously seek a solution, the unconscious mind begins to act. At some point, it may offer us a synthesis that can be followed by smart decisions, says Kilpeläinen.

In anticipation of this, one’s gnawing sense of uncertainty can be dampened by the knowledge that quite a few of our decisions are once and for all final. Fortunately!

This article appeared in Good Health. As a subscriber, you can read all numbers free of charge from the service

Source: Hyvä Terveys by

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