The Power of Instinctive Thought

By Sarah Jaber


It was a long time ago but I still  remember that day clearly, even though everything around me was a blur. It  seemed like the perfect Sunday afternoon. The sun’s rays were reflecting off the  shiny metal coating of my bike and I could hear the ice cream truck singing in  the distance. But this seemingly perfect day—like the front tire of my sister’s  bike- took an unexpected turn. Instead of riding on the sidewalk, taking my  usual Sunday route, I was now in the middle of the street with my sister in my  arms. I can still see the red droplets of blood on her shirt. I had never seen  blood before and suddenly the beating of my heart became louder than the ice  cream truck’s repeated tunes.  It was one of those moments were you feel completely alone. It was one of those moments were you have to think without thinking. It seemed as if everything happened in the blink of an eye. After her head was all stitched up and she was sitting up on the counter smiling at me, I realized something important. It was not the event that happened in the blink of an eye, it was my thinking.

I remember feeling anxious for a while. How did I do it? How did I manage to take my sister home, inform my parents, go back to the bikes, and forget everything that happened in between? I tried to analyze what had occurred until one night my father provided me with the answer. He said, “What happened that day was a result of your instinctive thinking. It’s something we all have in us.” It then hit me that sometimes the rapid decisions we make are the ones that yield the best results and that thinking things completely through isn’t always the best option.

Psychologically, when in danger, our minds limit the amount of information that we have to deal with. This allows us to focus on the here and now of things in order to make the best decisions, but the psychological facts didn’t really convince me. It took that dramatic event with my sister for me to realize that we all have the capability to make the right decisions, but that capability does not come naturally.

In order to make the best snap judgments, we have to have the right morals and values instilled. We must be willing to learn from trial and error. That also means that we must be willing to recognize the many influences that may alter the products of our unconscious. We must fuel our thinking with the right ingredients.

Tossing and turning, analyzing and over-thinking are the effects of trying to get the facts. But we don’t need the facts, we need the understanding. By building on our understanding, we can construct an internal self that can make those snap decisions. We have the power to charge the right instincts; we just have to wear our helmets.