Brain Versus Heart
Each one of us has many different desires , passions, obsessions etc. The problems that we need to deal with in our day to day life mainly stem from conflicts which we experience between our emotion and intellect. The question is: are our emotions the result of our thoughts or are our thoughts a result of our feelings?
Someone who looks at things starting from an emotional viewpoint will not be able to see a situation in an objective fashion. This can cloud their judgement, causing them to react emotionally to the different events which occur during the day. The more emotional and subjective the individual, the wider will be the swings of their emotional daily rollercoaster. This could lead to feelings of anger, frustration and other negative, self harming attitudes, which cause people to justify their actions.
A stable healthy minded individual is one who can control their emotions and look at situations from an objective intellectual vantage point. The greater the objectivity which the individual will experience will let the person decide how they wish to react to the situation and not be at the mercy of their feelings.
A simple example would be when someone’s friend or spouse will make a negative comment about the way they dress. An emotional person will immediately be defensive and counter attack with a jibe about the other person’s dress sense. Someone whose mind rules their heart will be able to decide whether the comment was really coming from a bad place or a poor choice of words. They will also be able to decide what will be the appropriate response to such a comment, not trying to be vengeful but to correct the situation.
This does not mean that an individual would not be passionate about different matters. On the contrary they would be highly motivated to do something which they believe is right or passionate about someone they love. The difference is that this individual would be passionate because they are choosing for the right reasons to be passionate. They are not doing it only because it feels good to be passionate and then justifying their decisions.
Torah in general can help a person be more in control of their emotions and especially chassidut Chabad is able to give a Jew the tools to cause the mind to rule the heart. The Rebbe Rashab was once asked: Are the emotions and intellect not two continents which are separated by a great ocean? He replied that our task is to build a bridge that will connect these two continents or at least to connect them with telephone lines and electric wires so that the light of the head should reach the heart.
Nevertheless, an individual can have a problem with the way that their brain works which would make it too hard for their intellect to show their heart what to want. Such individuals would need to see a therapist who could help them regain the control of their mind over their heart.
The above article is a general structure for people but for specific problems a qualified therapist should be consulted.
Yitzchok Kaye BA, Pg. Dip., Msc is a trained, qualified Cognitive Behavioural Therapist, who also specializes in other therapies. He helps individuals and couples with their challenges and issues. He has been a practising therapist for a number of Counselling Organisations but now has his own private practice. He is available around the world via Skype. He can also be contacted at Yitzkaye@gmail.com