Yesterday morning, I sat down to write about prospective. Which has more power with regards to making decisions? In clinical research there is an abundance of retrospective analysis but the real power is in the prospective analysis. We place more weight and relevance on the prospective clinical data. It feels less biased. The data is less corrupt. But is is also a smaller set of data which is why we often rely on retrospective data. Conclusions have more power when the trial has an N=100,000 versus a trial N=5. More data, more numbers, more results, more to average. Determination of a mean is more indicative for a population when averaging 100,000 versus five. And we use this data to make “evidence based” decisions. It is the scientific method. Yet…..human beings are woefully non-scientific. We are not always logical. Many are barely cognitive. And yet, we ascribe to them a construct of functioning that factors out the impact and power of the infinite variable of feelings. The psyche is a quantum, non-linear, chaos variable that we regular negate, ignore or discredit.
Yesterday, Scott Trudo asked provocative questions about change. It is not an uncommon dialogue. What needs to change? Why does it need to change? How do I change? But deeper still why do I WANT to change? Discernment is this coupling of feelings and desire with cognitive presence. And, like Stephen Alesch says, “The Present is a little shrill sometimes.”
We wax nostalgic over the remote past, if it was a happy past or an easier past. We list the critique if the past was dismal or dangerous. We get stuck easily in the high pitched pressure of the present, compressed by the To Do list. The shrillness heightened by the chorus of things we cannot manage to juggle or render. We get caught in the monotonous, repetitive humdrum of modern living. Buzz, wake, shit, shower, shave, coffee, drive, work, eat, chores, sleep. We are forced to make time for the biologicals. Our bowels and our brains will not be ignored. We have to empty and fill to function. We make ourselves presentable for the outside world: bathed, dressed, pressed, groomed and coiffed. To varying degrees we follow the regiment’s dress code, but it is often done with automation. We eat in our cars; we take coffee to go. We drive thru and use vending machines. Our palate is ignored. We sleep only if we must, cutting into that off-line time to be more productive and efficient. And as we hurtle through these routines day after day, we do not think much about how we FEEL. Thinking and feeling are quarantined from one another, lest they start rebellion. Once we start thinking about how we feel, we seed the mutiny. And so, we force ourselves to not care. We stack the deck with buzyness and tasks. Our weekends become ladened with chores and “planned” social activities. And we avoid processing. And while we dread the work week starting over, we squirm in the rare moments when we drift into thinking about how we feel. That’s when we yank the emergency break and AVOID. “Let’s clean out the garage! Let’s go to the movies! I will mow the lawn! Where is my Honey-Do list?” If we can just get through Sunday, then we are back on the track, like Hot Wheels on the black plastic tracks: endless, furious, circular and pointless. [Even as kids, what we really were waiting for was for the Hot Wheels to crash or go flying off the plastic track. THAT was the fun part.]
But our power is in prospective decision making. While we have an abundance of retrospective data. We have a long history from which to set precedence; it provides us with the mission statement and system protocols. But it is a worthy and necessary endeavor to inventory our lives and take time to THINK ABOUT HOW WE FEEL. We may think we have the inventory for the future. We make have little awareness of the overstocked items clogging up the factory. We may not realize we no longer have a supplier for that item necessary and fundamental for operations. We cannot assess loss or shrinkage or theft without an accounting. And the accounting requires us to THINK about things. And to think we must PAUSE. A business shuts its doors for inventory. You cannot do business while taking stock. But if we never stop moving, never stop working, avoid leisure…true stillness….we cannot take an inventory. And that is how we get lost.
We have to keep asking ourselves, “Is this what I want? Is this how to get it? Is it still what I want? Have my goals changed? Or have I changed?” A life cannot be lived on autopilot. Well, it can but then it is not living but merely an organic survival. We have to take ourselves out of the world, we must sit and contemplate, wander and think, seek solitude and quietude. In that space we must listen and reintroduce our thoughts to our feelings.