People encounter many problems and setbacks that cause stress and trauma in their daily walk of life and each one has a different coping mechanism.  In order to bring a positive outcome, one has to change the word problem to challenge.  Let us consider what are the triggering factors that decide how each person perceives and responds to a particular situation? Is it a personal trait or something a person gains from all their past experiences, or is it a mix of both? Are there any ways in which we can improve and optimize our response to the challenges we face?

Reactions may be intuitive or perceptual which are inborn and occur instantly or they can be rational and logical, which happen progressively. The broad definition may be classed as emotional responses and logical responses. An individual may either have a logical or emotional response to a situation, but this may change according to the type of situation and other factors such as the individual’s state of mind or priorities. The intuitive response may have developed in humans during the primitive era due to the need for immediate responses required for survival. Subsequently, it may be deep rooted in our subconscious mind. On the other hand, logical or rational responses may have developed over time and the level of their severity depends on multiple criteria, including many external and internal factors. External influences include the social, cultural and economical norms and internal influences include type of personality, attitude, attribution and perception.

“intuition is always right in at least two important ways;
It is always in response to something.
it always has your best interest at heart”
― Gavin De Becker, The Gift of Fear: Survival Signals That Protect Us from Violence

 A person may or may not be able to change the external criteria affecting a situation. Consequently, the improvement of logical responses will predominantly depend on critically analysing previous similar experiences and/or on an improved understanding of external factors, as this will most likely become intertwined with the emotional response mechanism. In the case of the emotional responses, there may be more control left with the individual to improve them. The individual may be able to handle the situation by either changing their attitude and perspective as well as by adjusting his/her habits, self-beliefs and behavior in order to effectively deal with the situation; it is further possible to condition the mind prior to the actual occurrence of the event or situation.

 An example of this involves the execution of a complex or ambiguous project which has many unexpected risk variables. The project management professional accountable for the project will do the initial risk assessment by reviewing all the documents available regarding similar projects, brainstorming with peers as well as data analysis of the variables involved. This will help to create an initial risk management plan, which would most likely fail due to the volatile and uncertain nature of the project. The risk mitigation plan, however, is expected to have maximum positive impact, when the project manager uses his intuitive ability to perceive more risks and includes them to the already assessed ones.

In order to understand a different perspective, the case of Alex who experiences a minor case of stage fright will be examined. The scenario is that the moment Alex gets into a public platform, he gets anxious and finds it very difficult to communicate to the audience. Should Alex really want to get out of this anxious situation, he needs to do more than merely relying on logical reasoning such as avoiding sugar and caffeine intake, having a low-fat meal and preparing well before the day of public interaction that may not help him sufficiently. However, by combining this with intuitive responses like being natural, engaging himself and connecting more with the audience will greatly enhance his performance.

Logical reasoning is sometimes merely used to justify facts by reactions that are made intuitively. It is more beneficial and useful when we empower and discipline our mind to identify the nature of the situation, and use logical reasoning to encounter it which is further supported by intuitive reasoning, which will exponentially increase the possibility of successfully facing it. Subsequently, the question should not be “must I listen to my heart or brain “, but rather “how can I build harmony between my heart and brain to better handle situations”

“Have the courage to follow your heart and intuition. They somehow already know what you truly want to become. Everything else is secondary. Intuition is a very powerful thing, more powerful than intellect”
― Steve Jobs

Shiju Philipose

Portfolio Manager and Course leader- Athena Global Education.

Mr Shiju Philipose has more than 17 years of extensive academic and operational experience in Professional Education and Training and has worked in academic institutions as well as corporates in India, Middle East and Canada.