Head Versus Heart?
One of the biggest struggles I have, even at mid-life, is the struggle between head and heart. I feel like, since I’m the oldest I’ve ever been and having waded through a few storms in my life, I should know which one to choose. But I don’t always. On one side, I feel like my heart is important to listen to- it’s guided me in some wonderful directions over the course of my life. But sometimes listening to my heart also makes me feel like I’m 23 and a total newbie at dealing with Life. It can create an emotional rollercoaster that I can ride on for years.
On the other hand, my brain is pretty okay. It has also guided me well through the years and in certain situations. Logic and wisdom are great tools. I know my brain loves me and wants the best for me.
And when these two are in conflict, it feels…awful. When my heart wants something and my brain thinks that is a super dumb idea, it can tear me apart. The emotional rollercoaster side of me is trying to have a conversation with the stationary and professorial side of me- they can’t even talk because my heart is flying by so fast. How can they communicate? How do I satisfy them both? Is that even possible? When is a ‘heart’ decision a good decision? And when is a ‘head’ decision a good one?
There are some good answers to these kinds of questions if you look hard enough. I stumbled upon a useful one during a scroll through Our Lord and Savior Google. Here is what two folks on Twitter had to say about the struggle to decide what to do with head vs. heart.
vethox: I am constantly torn between “if it’s meant to be, it will be” and “if you want it, go and get it.”
i-peed-so-hard-i-laughed: “if it’s meant to be, it will be”- friendships, relationships, people in general coming into your life, dealing with rejection.
“if you want it, go and get it”- your goals, aspirations, work and work ethic, changing your life (diet, exercise, hobbies, political views, opinions
What does this have to do with head versus heart? Well, I use it to figure out what my head and heart are dealing with. If there’s a friendship my heart is concerned about, but my head is telling me to be smart, I look at this advice and remember to take a breath and step back before doing anything (also: to recognize that when I’ve done my best and highest for a friendship, it’s okay to leave it at that and see what happens without engaging further). This guidance helps my heart be smart.
‘Heart’ and ‘smarts’ are important when you’re trying to work with both sides of yourself and make a decision that feels good and smart. I’m going to add to the above with my own preferences and wisdom. Here is what I have to tell you after years of making stupid mistakes by following my heart: follow your heart.
Yes, I think you should follow your heart if you haven’t done the thing before. That’s my well-earned and messy guidance.
Here is what else I have to tell you after years of making stupid mistakes by following my heart: you’re a mid-life woman, you’ve lived through some shit: use your wisdom to make the decision. If you’ve been down this road, or one like it, and you know where it leads, pay attention to that. Give weight to the lessons you learned the hard way. Use that knowledge to make your decision. Don’t deny or conveniently forget what it took you years to learn. Honor yourself- your heart and your head- in this way.
What does this look like? It looks like being in the Sex Surge® and really, really wanting an affair with all your heart, but also realizing that if you were caught you’d lose a marriage that you value. It’s a tough-ass decision to come to, but it’s a wise one (I promise). On the other hand, if the marriage is heading towards the drain, maybe following your heart into an affair is the best idea ever. It’s a case-by-case basis that deserves input from both heart and head.
Lastly, after years of making stupid mistakes by following my heart, I want you to know that whatever you choose, however it turns out, you don’t lose: you either win or you learn. And there is always something to learn. So if you do decide to follow your heart, based on your wisdom, pay attention to what you learn from that decision. There is always something to be learned, especially when it comes to our heart.
When our heart and head are in a tug-of-war it can be hard to make a decision and move forward. Both ideas and desires can feel like equally good choices. In those cases, seek the wisdom of other smart folks but also look within and seek your own wisdom. Listen to that quiet voice inside you, listen to the experience you have, and trust yourself to make a good decision. And when in doubt, if you’ve never done the thing before, let your heart lead you. It will teach you amazing things.