Unbelievable. David Brooks, you know, the economist who writes for the New York Times on subject matter such as politics and economics?? . . . The dry guy you see on Face the Nation? He’s written a book about how the unconscious brain operates.
In “The Social Animal: The Hidden Sources of Love, Character and Achievement,” Brooks explores how people think, feel and act and explains that our “unconscious” helps us figure out the world. Our conscious gives us one way of making sense of the world. But our unconscious — including emotions, intuition, perceptions, character traits, social bonding – gives us more supple ways of making sense of our environment. He believes our unconscious is the best ally we have in life. I was stunned. And, I agree. In fact, I couldn’t agree more.
I work with how people think, feel and act. I read everything I can on how the brain operates. I have for years. But, I have not discussed this fact extensively. Why? I am a lawyer. I am a mediator. Most importantly, I am female. Lawyers, by and large, feel ill-equipped to work with these issues. They just want mediators to “do their magic.” For years, mediators were trained to let people vent in order to bleed the emotions and find the rational. All that active listening never worked that way. Now we know from science — we are correct to work with emotions, with intuition, and with the unconscious — the brain needs both the rational and the emotional brain to operate effectively.
And, there is richness in working with emotions and the unconscious. It is where we live and breathe. And, it helps resolve many cases. And, guess what. Lo and behold, others get it. Even David Brooks.