What Does All This Mean to You
Should we then just give up conscious thinking? Of course not. The conscious reasoning powers you have are excellent for serial and logical deductive thinking. They just can’t handle the massive parallel processing of the unconscious mind. Further, the conscious mind often needs to overrule the mistakes and errors of the unconscious. When looking for my new car, I felt really good about a $125,000 dollar Mercedes, but my conscious mind eliminated that option from consideration. It would have given my bank account a bad feeling!
Experts in the field believe that in the case of complex decisions where there are a lot of variables, you need to give yourself a goal, such as to choose a new car, and then consciously become informed of the relevant information. Then you stop thinking about the decision and do something else while your unconscious mind evaluates. Later, maybe the answer will just pop into your head, but if not you are going to have feelings about the right choice. Learn to read those feelings and go with them. If you try to reason it out you become susceptible to the verbal bias I described above.
By nature I am a very logical and rational person. It is very hard for me, and I think for a lot of other people, to believe that some decisions can be better made unconsciously. However, the experimental evidence is piling up. Furthermore, most people just don’t realize the critical part that unconsciously generated feelings play in most of their day-to-day decisions.
The skill that is going to make the difference in improving your decision making is knowing when to employ the various methods. I don’t have the answers, but I think the coming years are going to reveal a great deal about the amazing abilities of our mysterious minds. If you get out ahead of the curve, you are going to be the better prepared to deal with our increasingly complex world.