What Controls You, Your Instincts or Your Mind?

tweeted the following question some time ago now:

'What controls you, your instincts or your mind?'

This occured after having some random thoughts one day. The question was not based on any firm ideas I had but was rather a thought provoking question and thought process I was going through.

Do you base your actions mainly on logic? What about social expectations? Do you always eat when you are hungry? Do you think aggression is bad? Can you turn your aggression on and off consciously or are you a slave to your instincts and emotions?

This along with other similar thoughts was going through my mind which prompted me to tweet the question. I didn't really expect people to reply as it was a rather abstract tweet, although there were a couple of interesting replies I got back. It was more to just throw the question out there to get people to think about it. I found the replies very thought provoking though.

Instinct Driven Process

My thoughts were that most people operate mostly on instinct. My view was that people do what their instincts tell them to do. An example is as follows:

  1. I am hungry
  2. What do I feel like eating?
  3. I want something sweet
  4. Go and buy something sweet
  5. Eat it
  6. Feel bad for not eating better food I know is good for me

So in this example I am sure everyone is familiar with, we can see there was no conscious critical thought process that went into the decision to eat. It was all instinctive. The mind had no say. It could also be said that the mind is fat and lazy in this example.

Mind Driven Process

In the above case, instincts control the person. So what would the same scenario involve when the mind was in control of the person? Let's have a look:

  1. I am hungry
  2. What should I eat?
  3. It is lunch time so I should have something light but satisfying
  4. Chicken and salad is a good healthy option
  5. Go and buy chicken and salad
  6. Eat it
  7. Feel good as it tasted nice combined with knowledge that it is good fuel for the human body

This above example was where the mind controlled the actions of the person. The instinct 'I am hungry' cannot be stopped. But the moment conscious thought comes in is where the mind takes over in this example.

This is the line of thought I was having when pondering the question of mind or instincts. I was generally of the belief that many people have lazy minds and let their instincts drive their decision making, or lack thereof...

Interesting Responses

But interestingly, I got two replies on twitter where they thought it was better to have instincts control the person. I was intrigued at this. After reading their responses I can see that this is just another separate way to look at the issue.

First to reply was @CombatTrainer

I found this a bit surprising and was keen to find out more about his reasoning behind his wish to have instincts control him more. So I asked him and his reply was:

I could begin to see where he was coming from. This was a very different viewpoint from where I took mine from, though I could see what he was saying.  He went on:

This I could relate to and agreed totally. I really found this an interesting view point on the topic I was pondering and it was great to listen to a different view from someone. This is one of the things I like a lot about twitter. You can just ask a question and you get different peoples views on things which are more often than not, different from yours and thought provoking.

I was looking at the question from one view where as their were different views out there as well. What I feel @CombatTrainor was getting at was that people can become docile and lack any real drive and passion. They lack those raw instincts which is what being alive is so much about. In a way, it can be seen that society as a whole can subdue all instincts. Aggression is seen as bad except in the military. Passion can be seen as unruly. There are two sides to each coin, often more than two. It is interesting to look at the one topic and explore the different angles to it.

I had to include this but @CombatTrainor also sent the following which was nice:

He is certainly right! hehe thanks for the kind words @CombatTrainor!

The other interesting reply was from @kravmascara

Her first reply to the question was as follows:

I found this interesting as @kravmascara also claimed instincts to be more important. Included in her tweet was the inclusion of needing the mind to oversee everything. She went on to say:

This I found very interesting. Where as I too considered a lazy mind important to prevent and overcome, @kravmascara thought it was instincts that were required to overcome that laziness. There was certainly merit to that viewpoint. That drive deep down inside of us can become week if we subdue it. This can decrease motivation and passion and a real lust for life. This is also an important element in life in general.

Its All About The Angle

My angle on this is that it is only with a conscious thought from the mind, that we can drive these instincts inside us to the surface and harness them for our own creative juices. It is only the mind that can control this. If we let our instincts go wild, surely no good could come of it. But by being controlled by the mind, those instincts can be brought out and freed and most importantly, directed where we want them to take us.

I found the responses and conversations interesting and wanted to share them here for the readers and subscribers of Low Tech Combat to absorb. Both @CombatTrainor and @kravmascara have interesting sites as well so be sure to check them out at http://combattrainer.com/ and http://www.kravuk.com/.

So what do you think? What controls you? Your instincts or your mind? And what is more important?

Image via Rohit Varma