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All decisions are made out of fear or love
A new model for decision making, juxtaposed with reasoned & intuitive thinking.
The most memorable idea that I’ve stumbled across lately, was when a peer told me:
“All decisions are made out of fear or love.”
We were discussing the patterns that we were observing in the world, and the personal changes that we desired to make in ourselves to become better people.
The reason that this idea shook my world view was because I’d previously believed that all decisions were derived from either reason or intuition. Through reason, we take in what we know about the present and the past to plot the coarse ahead. Through intuition, we assess the potential that the future has in store in order to make a leap of faith in a direction of our choosing.
This distinction is important to understand because it will guide much of the discussion to follow. Reason is causally derived, and intuition is derived by constraints. What I mean by this is that our ability to reason is limited by our past experiences and memories and our intuition is limited by our ability to cast out our imagination into the future.
And so this new fear vs love idea didn’t fit very neatly into this model. Love couldn’t be reason or intuition alone, neither could fear. It’s just a different lens through which to assess a decision. I likened myself to knowing when to oscillate between reasoned and intuitive decision making. This was because neither in particular had an explicitly negative connotation.
This isn’t the case with fear vs love. Decisions made out of fear hold a clearly negative connotation. And so as I’ve continued to marinate on this idea, I’ve wanted to liken myself with the type of person who makes decisions out of love rather than fear. It hasn’t been as easy as I’ve thought.
In the past, I’ve made hard decisions out of what could be spun as love if I were to chose, but in actuality were decisions made out of fear.
When I moved to Denver at the age of 18, I thought I was breaking out on my own, to leave the small town I’d grown up in and to take a chance in a new place. In hindsight, I’ve come to know that I was on the run from stagnation. I’d exited from my business selling air and had already deferred college. I didn’t know what to do next. I was so aimless that I became a prime target for multiple multi-level marketing schemes in my area, spending hundreds on starter kits to get my family and friends hooked on the next new—vacuum/supplements/cutlery—you name it. I never sold a single unit because I didn’t give a damn about any of them. So this fear caused me to run to the next light that I saw, like the moth that I was.
When I dropped out of college, the narrative I put forward is that I was leaving a broken institution to jump out on my own and grow my budding company. In actuality, I was broke from what I’d spent, and terrified of debt. The end of the path I was on looked like a six figure noose hanging around my neck until I was 50, and no chance at ever having the freedom required to do something on my own as I knew I’d eventually want to. I was really just there to learn, and I loved what I was learning.
Only over the last few years have I had the opportunity to circle back on that initial passion, intersecting my knowledge-base in biology and software to come to novel conclusions about where causality resides in complex systems.
I love where I am now.
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And so that’s why this fear vs love idea has really struck me so deeply. Not only because of it’s dissonance from intuitive vs reasoned decision making, but because the decisions I made out of fear, led me towards a path that I love.
For that reason alone, I regret nothing. But it makes me wonder what the decision out of love would have looked like at each of the 2 junctions I mentioned above.
If I stuck with what I’d loved at the time, would I have been happy had I stayed and saddled myself with the debt?
I don’t think I’d have been wise or competent enough to make a decision out of love alone that’d have put me in a better position at the time of either of my above examples. Could I go back now with the wisdom I’ve accumulated since—absolutely. The opportunity cost was time and willingness to contribute ideas without accreditation. This would in turn iron them out and eventually begin gaining me the credibility required to make meaningful contributions—something I’ve seen now is possible.
But at the time? No way.
That alone is a cheap conclusion. There should be a way for one to know when they’re competent enough to make decisions out of love > fear as opposed to simply reason vs intuition. The answer is by using both both.
I’m reminded of a chart I shared in my individuation post a while back where I talk about aiming for ‘moral, dynamic good’ to achieve individuation as opposed to any other combination of moral/immoral & static/dynamic good.
So, I made a new chart with the axes I’ve been ruminating on that looks very similar.
Now, I can look at this model and see that my actions in both examples were motivated by fear-intuition.
In my first story of running off to Denver to avoid stagnation, I was afraid of my current state, but could sense the potential that Denver held to guide me in a better direction.
In my second story of leaving school, I was afraid of the future state I saw coming, and sensed a greater potential with the start-up that I’d been building on the side as a means of orienting me towards my desired future state.
And so in both scenarios, I can weigh these realizations against what I’d have done had I been consciously recognizing that same intuition, and rather than choose the path motivated by fear, I could cast a new one motivated instead by love.
Still no regrets, but better set for the decisions to come.
Push not away from the love because it is love that pulls us in the directions of our lives. A head full of chaos with no model to bring forth proper order will serve its host no purpose other than to cloud out what is pure inside him. Love offers the sanctity of direction and moreover purpose, to wield against the serpent of chaos and leave it with mortal wounds.
Send me signal on Urbit: ~padlyn-sogrum