There are few true emergencies
in life. Investing in a stock, deciding on a summer vacation
special good until 5:00 P.M., or purchasing mulch from the guy who’s
only going to be in the neighborhood selling it until noon—are not
some of them. (My 11:15 A.M. decision resulted in a front yard
mushroom farm within two weeks.)
In an excited state of mind, the
compelling stories of a hot deal will look different in a cool state
of mind the next day. A hot stock tip, a business deal gone sour, a
family tragedy, all may create an alarm response and an emotional
state of mind geared for survival rather than logic. Or, a
compelling social interaction may engage a powerful brain circuit
that makes us give money to strangers.
Each thought and feeling has a
chemical consequence. The chemicals of emotion alter mind and body.
Personal experience determines what software program (state of
mind) to process the data, and how to proceed.
The following considerations
apply to decision-making regarding emotions and choices, catalogued
by the chemical mediator.
1. Adrenalin/Cortisol: The
When incoming data resembles
threat or danger, it triggers an emotional and biochemical response
within a fraction of a second. While necessary for survival,
adrenalin and cortisol hijack the logical, rational brain.
Emotion-based judgments where rational ones should prevail may
misjudge information. This automatic alarm system may cause
mistaken perception, and reaction.
Additionally, increased tension
produces emotional regression. With increased tension and advanced
conflict, the stress response reaction can move someone into a more
emotional pattern characteristic of an earlier age. Increased
emotion also narrows perspective; focus becomes more restricted to
the more recent event when emotion prevails.
2. Dopamine: The Pleasure
Dopamine mediates the excitement
of anticipating a reward or pleasure. Someone can create a cult-like
following by the promise of great possibility coupled with the
vagueness of hazy dreams. The result: People are stimulated to see
what they want to see. Like money, people project their own desires
onto the story and see their wishes crystallized into an illusion of
reality. The essentials here: Dopamine plus a projection screen (a
3. Norepinephrine: The
We believe that certain
accomplishments and acquisitions will give us lasting satisfaction.
However, a new possession, such as a car, will quickly be
assimilated into our bank of possessions and no longer be the
subject of intense focus and desire. Receiving
a reward shuts down the anticipatory release of dopamine,
diminishing the energy and pleasure. The central nervous system
shifts to the maintenance mode (necessary from an economic and
evolutionary perspective), primarily mediated by norepinephrine.
The fastest way to relinquish a
desire, or to stop noticing something, may be to buy it.
4. Oxytocin: The Social
Social interactions stimulate
the release of the neurochemical oxytocin, especially when we are
trusted; this induces a desire to reciprocate that trust we have
been shown, even with strangers.
People engaged in cons know how to
stimulate oxytocin. In David Mamet’s film, “House of Games,”
the confidence man played by Joe Mantegna explained to a previous
mark, “It’s called a confidence game. Why? Because you give me
your confidence? No. Because I give you mine.”
Think about the trust that large
numbers of people were given by bankers in the form of credit and
mortgages. That trust was reciprocated; both sides suffered, as
well as some innocent bystanders.
“I’ll think about it,” is
“I’ll get back to you,” is
“I’ll sleep on it,” is a
These decisions allow you to
pause between the pick and the purchase. [See 14
Ways to Outsmart Your Brain to Spend Less
in this Blog Archives]. “Sleeping on it” allows movement
through different states of mind to fresh perspectives the next day.
Most importantly, it allows moving these neurochemically-mediated
responses from the foreground to the background for a balanced
Please join me for Your
New Money Story™
November 16 at 7:00 PM Eastern. For more information on this
Teleseminar series and Workbook, go to www.NewMoneyStory.com