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Are we inherently irrational?

How do we deal with it?

January 20, 2021

Are we inherently irrational?

Yes. People are inherently irrational.

This is has been clearly demonstrated by researchers and experts in social psychology, behavioral economics, and more fields of study.

People hate losing a dollar more than they would like to get a dollar.

People are more likely to buy a product that they don’t need from someone that they like or have more in common with.

People stay in situations of status quo and don’t try new things even though it is clear that taking a risk is clearly the best way to get more out of life.

Here’s why (the short version).

All people have 3 categories of basic instincts. You can consider them built in software.

(1) Survival: avoiding pain, staying alive, and maintaining a sense of one’s own ego-self.

(2) Seeking experiences and moments that give pleasure, thrills, enjoyment.

(3) Connecting with others, being part of a group, and having a sense of contribution.

Our life is greatly dictated by predictable programs such as cognitive biases, heuristics, defense mechanisms, internal imbalances and conflicts within ourselves.

How do we deal with it?

If you are seeking health, wholeness, advancement, personal growth and development, fruitful and satisfying career, or really any sort of true positive change, you must deal with your irrationalities.

Physicians are not immune to irrationalities. In fact, the lengthy time in education and training, as well as having to develop a specific persona (self-image) as a physician, makes physicians prone to various cognitive biases and heuristics as a group.

The most dangerous ones are excessive identification with the physician persona , the halo effect of oneself (believing we will be good at finances and other ventures and do not need others’ help because we are so smart and accomplished), not attending to one’s own needs because of attention given to others’ needs.

But there’s hope.

The first step to deal with our irrationalities so that we can grow is to develop the skill of self-awareness.

We cannot remove the installed software of our instincts but we can become more knowledgeable about how they work so that we can not be controlled by our cognitive biases.

The key is to reduce times where we are immediately reacting based on our heuristics and defense mechanisms but to respond, to choose consciously.

In short, you must truly face yourself.

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