A few years ago, when he decided not to run for president, former Arkansas Governor Mike Huckabee said “my head said run, while my heart said no.” What did he mean by this? Did he mean that he really should run for president but was arbitrarily letting his feelings stop him from doing it? Or did he mean that he really shouldn’t run?
If his decision was well thought out (and it was), he probably meant the latter: he really shouldn’t run. When we say something to the effect of “my head says one thing while my heart says another”, it seems on the surface that the facts of reality are telling us to do something we don’t want to. However, what it really means: we’re not consciously considering enough facts to align what we’re thinking with what we’re feeling.
For example, say someone is considering two cities to retire to, city A and city B. He’s consciously looking at three issues: the scenery, recreational opportunities, and job prospects if he wants some part-time work. He knows city A is better than city B for these three and feels obligated to choose it. Meanwhile emotionally, for reasons he can’t explain, he seems to favor city B.
What your head tells you, in a manner of speaking, is what you conclude about specific issues you’re considering consciously. In this example our friend is consciously considering the issues of scenery, recreational opportunities, and job prospects. As the two cities go, based on only those three city A is better than city B, so his head is telling him that’s the one.
In contrast with your head, your heart tells you, again in a manner of speaking, something else. It doesn’t just give you what you conclude about the things you considered consciously. Rather it gives something much broader: an emotional sum total based on everything relevant you’ve ever considered, whether you considered it consciously, or you just “got a feeling” about it implicitly in the back of your mind but never identified it explicitly.
To continue the example assume there’s another issue our friend didn’t start out considering. It’s the dominant temperament of the people in each city, and in the back of his mind he’s vaguely aware it’s highly relevant to the decision where to retire. He picked up on it in a very subtle way, by interacting with people during visits to each city in hotels, stores, restaurants, and other places he went. As it turned out, despite the better employment and recreational opportunities and scenery, he found city A full of moody, unfriendly people. However in city B most people were much nicer and more at peace with themselves, making daily life there significantly less stressful. Though he didn’t acknowledge it consciously his implicit conclusion on this issue was in the back of his mind, making him uncomfortable pulling the trigger on choosing city A.
Just because what your heart considers is broader than what your head does doesn’t mean you should just assume it’s right and always “follow your heart”. As I said in my SelfGrowth.com post “What Is Thinking? Since 2011, We Finally Know” (listed under the topics Brain Enhancement and Mind Power), emotions aren’t the result of reality but rather what we think of it. And what we think of reality can be incorrect. So, if you want to act on an emotion, you need to introspect to examine what ideas are causing the emotion you’re feeling to see if those ideas jibe with the facts of reality. If they don’t, you have to discount the emotion as arbitrary and not worth following. But if you find out that what’s causing the emotion makes sense, then you can proceed.
Therefore, if your head says one thing while your heart is saying something else, you need to introspect to figure out what your heart is telling you behind the scenes. Back to our friend, who needs to figure out why he’s feeling the way he is. If he introspects, he should find the issue of temperament of the people in each city. Once he does he can consider it explicitly and consciously just like he did with the other three issues. Then, so long as there aren’t any other issues floating around in the back of his mind going unacknowledged, he can completely evaluate cities A and B. He should be at peace with his conclusion, with his head and heart finally be in agreement.
If your head and heart don’t agree on something, you probably didn’t dig deep enough to find everything that you needed to consider. You need to consciously identify as much that’s relevant to what you’re trying to achieve as possible so that your evaluations are complete. Try introspecting to find any overlooked issues lurking in the back of your mind that you haven’t identified explicitly so they can be considered. That’s the way to bring your head and heart into alignment so you’ll be comfortable and at peace with what you decide.

Author's Bio: 

Gray Seele is a philosopher and attorney. He is the author of “YOU CAN THINK and be (Really!) Happy”, the first complete statement of the human thinking process ever. His website is https://grayseele.com.