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A Few Thoughts on Emotional Decisions

March 17, 2020

Part of a new series. See A Few Thoughts on Crisis for more.


People say, “you shouldn’t make decisions out of fear or panic.”

We tell ourselves to “avoid emotional decisions” and to “remain calm.”

While this advice can be helpful, it also gets in our way.

We’ve concluded that emotions are “bad”. We think that fear and panic are dangerous. We sweep the tiniest trace of emotion under the rug.

But when an emotion isn’t fully felt, it remains frozen. Actions taken based on unacknowledged, stuck emotions are reactionary: impulsive comments, disproportionate outrage, hubristic downplaying and avoidance … these are surface-level reactions, not deeply felt responses. And they repeat the past, again and again.

There is another way: it’s to actually feel what is going on.

It’s possible to feel fear without being impulsive.

It’s possible to feel overwhelm and panic without flipping out.

To feel demands giving space to what is there. It requires taking a breath, and having the courage to engage in a conversation with your inner world about what is arising.

What’s it trying to say? What does it need? What might it be trying to protect you from—either today or in the past?

Once it’s felt, the system begins to move. Frozen energy starts to melt. New space opens up.

And then you act.


We are called to feel everything right now—both within us and around us.

The greater our capacity to feel, the more nuanced the information we’ll have about ourselves, our organizations, and our world.

The greater our capacity to feel, the more degrees of freedom we can respond with.

The greater our capacity to feel, the clearer our actions will become.

This is the moment.

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