Our journey into becoming who we are today starts before birth. The process of learning what our complex social world and inner emotional world are all about originates during pregnancy through the growing bond between parent and baby.
Attachment – a deep and enduring emotional bond between two people has increasingly being understood as providing both the neurological and the psychological framework for the development of personality. Through this developing bond the child grows to differentiate needs from desires based on their parents’ attuned responses. More importantly, a healthy attachment would allow the developing child to acquire the skills necessary for mentalizing.
Mentalizing refers to the quintessential human capacity to comprehend one’s own and others’ mental states that enables people to navigate the complex social world we live in. It is the ability to think about thinking. In this way, mentalization is understood as a precondition of social skill, self-soothing, empathy, and other facets of emotional intelligence and social-emotional maturity.
As adults we can consider the needs and desires of several family members simultaneously and reach decisions about which to prioritise at any given moment. It is particularly important to note that all family members (including parents) have needs and, as much as possible, needs should be met. Balance is the issue, that is, distributing the family’s resources as productively (as opposed to ‘equitably’) as possible. Adults can foresee consequences in the long-term, thus acting in the present in ways that will have long-term positive consequences.
The absent or compromised capacity to understand oneself and others in terms of mental states, plays an important role in the development of long-term difficulties, including borderline personality disorder, antisocial personality disorder, eating disorders, trauma, depression and addictions.
Help making sense of thoughts, beliefs, wishes, and feelings and to link these to actions and behaviours can improve a person’s capacity to mentalise and by default their ability to steer through their social world.
In making big or small decisions, we need to consider that our decision making resources are limited. To ensure that we allocate our best resouces to the most important and or complex decisions of the day, we need to consider different factors. These might include physiological factors such as how well rested or nourished we feel. You might have noticed the differences in experience and outcome between making complex decisions when you feel tired, hungry or ill vs. when you feel rested, nourished and healthy. There are other factors that might also come into play such as the busy nature of some days or even the unexpected.
In considering such factors we amplify the quality of our thinking process that would lead to better outcomes. In turn, this would increase our feelings of satisfaction and wellbeing that will stumulate the secretion of dopamine, also known as the "feel good hormone" and prevent the arousal of negative emotions such as regret in the longer run.
- Decision making resources are limited.
- Complex decision making requires more thinking power.
- Being rested and nourished can lead to better decision making.
-Structured approaches to decision making can lead to SUCCESS.
Structured approaches to decision making can be helpful in attaining a desired level of Satisfaction when struggling making complex decisions.
Emotions. How to deal with all of them and not die trying.
We encounter a range of problems that demand decisions to be made during the course of our day. These require thinking power that can be translated into energy. The amount of energy spent in each of these decisions would depend on the complexity of the the problem, its emotional valence and our personal characteristics. So, take for instance, riding a bike or driving a car. An experienced rider/driver that enjoys doing the activity would be likely to require less energy (thinking power) on a long journey that someone that has only recently started to ride/drive and dislikes this task.
Let's for the moment consider this energy in terms of a battery life, we can then better appreciate the significance of this process. The more thinking power we spend, the less energy we have, the more tire we become, the less efficient we are at making decisions.
Thinking power, like a battery, is an energy consumer that has access to limited resources and when the resource ends we need to recharge. We can recharge by relaxing, sleeping, or even by changing to a diffirent type of activity. So, for instance, if we have spent the last two hours working on a report, mathematical problem or reading a book that requires all of our concentration, we can recharge by going for a mindful walk, or preparing dinner or even doing a five minutes breathing exercise. These would depend on the person's personal characteristics and circumstances.