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Head and Heart – Why it really isn’t an either/or

We always talk about making decisions with our head or our heart, but never as one…why is that?

The head has always been the symbol for logic and reason, and the heart for emotion and feeling. Thus, it is quite common for people to ask separately, “what does your heart say?” or “what does your head say?”, as if these sources are detached from one another.

However, these sources are not mutually exclusive, but symbolically it can be useful to view them as such to determine when too much of one or the other is hindering your life.

I, for one, am not immune for being in my own head too much. Abstract thinking, problem solving, lost in thought, trying to find the logic and reason behind actions and behaviours, these are all examples of things which I am guilty of taking too far or certainly far more than the average person.

Using your head and being rational is considered sane. Whereas what we do out of passion or emotion is sometimes considered insane. However, as the philosopher Alan Watts put it, “in madness lies sanity.”

No one says “speaking from the head”, yet “speaking from the heart” is both encouraged and revered in society and a sign of authenticity. When you say something from the heart it requires vulnerability because you are revealing something personally about yourself as well as opening yourself up for potential ridicule. This is why it is seen as a courageous act.

I’m quite an emotionally aware and understanding person and people naturally open up to me about a whole range of things. However, I find it difficult to open up and allow myself to be vulnerable to others, primarily due to trust issues I have. It’s great that people can trust me so easily, but I struggle to do the same so readily. I’ve had some not so pleasant experiences opening up to people and that makes it challenging to continue to do so.

Once again, I refer to Watts: “Unquestionably the sensitive human brain adds immeasurably to the richness of life. Yet for this we pay dearly, because the increase in overall sensitivity makes us peculiarly vulnerable.” The combination of my intelligence and sensitivity (in the sense that I pick up a lot, not that I cannot take things or am easily off-put) has the capacity to do great things, but also be incredibly wounding to me of which I am acutely aware of.

So, to tie this all up, as the head and heart are inevitably tied together, it is imperative for each to listen to one another and to not allow one to be too dominant over the other – like a relationship, really. There are going to be situations which favour the head – which loan provider you’ll use – and which favour the heart – your romantic partner – but ideally both will be consulted before a final decision is made.

“Duality is always secretly unity.” – Alan Watts

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