Richard G. Petty, MD

Risk, Reason, Intuition and Avoiding Overwhelm

The British Academy Festival of Science at the University of East Anglia has just finished, and there were a lot of interesting papers this year.

There was some impressive work on two unavoidable parts of life: risk and uncertainty. And how we cope with them. Professor Peter Taylor-Gooby, who is the Director of the Economic and Social Research Council Social Context and Responses to Risk Network (SCARR) at the University of Kent, had this to say: "There is a lot of evidence that concern about risk is directly related to lack of knowledge and the extent to which the event is dreaded…. and trust always involves emotion as well as reason."

How can we restore people’s level of confidence in themselves, in the people around them and in people in positions of authority? The answer lies in emotions instead of reason alone. This is especially true when the perceived risk is related to health, the environment, new technologies and energy.

Peter went on to say this: "The way that information about a particular risk is transmitted and interpreted by various audiences is also important in determining how people respond."

We all engage in some routine tasks without much thought. To apply your full awareness to everything that you do would quickly become exhausting. That is why we develop habits and do some things “On autopilot.” Habits are essential, and we have helped countless people by reprogramming habit patterns.

A problem can occur when you do the wrong things on autopilot and applying too much attention to things that do not require it. The first may damage a relationship: your significant other may not be best pleased to discover that you have been on autopilot during an intimate event. Applying too much attention to things that do not merit them is a good way of developing anxieties and paranoia.

With the increasing complexity of the world, and more things vying for our attention, we are all facing what I call “Overwhelm,” which is just what is sounds like. When we are tired or sick in mind, body or soul. When our subtle systems have become depleted by poor food, irregular breathing, negative people or a negative environment, any of us can become overwhelmed. People with attention deficit disorder, anxiety disorders and bipolar disorder are all more likely to suffer from Overwhelm. Many of the techniques for developing resilience that we have been discussing, are specifically designed to protect you against Overwhelm.

The key for us is to have in place a series of coping strategies that neither rely upon rationality alone or on a mixture of blind faith or hope: that is the best way to deal with growing uncertainties.

“Often you have to rely on intuition.”
-Bill Gates American Computer Genius, Businessman and Co-founder of Microsoft, 1955-

About Richard G. Petty, MD
Dr. Richard G. Petty, MD is a world-renowned authority on the brain, and his revolutionary work on human energy systems has been acclaimed around the globe. He is also an accredited specialist in internal and metabolic medicine, endocrinology, psychiatry, acupuncture and homeopathy. He has been an innovator and leader of the human potential movement for over thirty years and is also an active researcher, teacher, writer, professional speaker and broadcaster. He is the author of five books, including the groundbreaking and best selling CD series Healing, Meaning and Purpose. He has taught in over 45 countries and 48 states in the last ten years, but spends as much time as possible on his horse farm in Georgia.

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