When it comes to being human, are we best off leading with our heart or our head? Living through the heart, there’s perhaps a risk of losing our selves by being so caught up in the lives of others. Existing too much in our heads, we perhaps become detached from all that life means from the human perspective. Finding some kind of balance between the two can be exhausting.
At times it seems we’re encouraged to mainly be rational – as if that clearer form of knowledge is something sturdier and more reliable to build our lives around. In many ways, perhaps it is? This objective, reasoned voice of observation that can happily and confidently deconstruct events and assign everything its place as cause, effect or solution (Notes One). The whole of life neatly pinned down, defined, predictable.
Yet the mind can often seem cold by not also assigning the proper feeling to all its assertions. It can sometimes seem disconcertingly easy to run events through the channels of our minds and emerge with crystal clear theories about everything; perhaps overlooking the fact that each item in our chains of thought relates to somebody or some situation that might be crying out for more compassionate awareness (Notes Two).
Can thought exist without feeling? Are we fully human if we’re not dipping down into the realm of emotion to check how well our ideas are working out on that level? As beings who “can” feel, perhaps it’s important we find a way to bear those messages in mind as we’re going about our lives. What would it “mean” if we listened only to the head and cared even less about the feeling of the heart?
But then, what can we do if feeling threatens to overwhelm us? Drowning our capacity for reason with the emotive reality of what each aspect of everything “means” from countless perspectives. If each choice we make ripples out into the social, systemic environment we all share, we may risk paralysis by delving too deeply into the uncontrollable world of others’ emotions.
Equally, might it not be that our own emotion overwhelms us? The frame of mind with which we approach life perhaps getting reinforced by the expressions of hope or despair we’re tuning into in the world around us; our feelings amplified, for whatever reason, to the point where our ability to see otherwise gets clouded over (Notes Three).
In every area of life – personal, social, international, global – it seems things can touch us too deeply or not enough. The challenge perhaps being to find that balance between letting life in too much, too little, or just enough that we’re able to make sense of things without losing our steady resolve to respond both compassionately and intelligently (Notes Four).
Who’s to say which way’s best? If “being human” is to have feelings about reality and be sensitive to the feelings of others, maybe such qualities simply need to find a respectful and constructive home within our lives.
Notes and References:
Note 1: The thought surrounding us
Note 1: All that we add to neutrality
Note 1: How ideas find their place in the world
Note 1: Strange arrogance of thought
Note 2: Overwhelm and resignation
Note 2: What if solutions aren’t solutions?
Note 2: Whether we make a difference
Note 3: Does being alone amplify things?
Note 3: Emotion and culture’s realities
Note 3: It resonates, but should it be amplified
Note 3: Desensitised to all we’re told?
Note 4: Being trusted to use our discernment…
Note 4: And, how much can we care?
Note 4: Reading between the lines