A negative emotional balance that the heart can cause is a lack of satisfaction. Rather than being indecisive, in this case, you know what you want. But making your choice, and even achieving that goal, brings no pleasure. The most obvious place that this emotional negativity reveals itself is in work. Whether we like our job or not, when our hearts are divorced from our heads, our dissatisfaction with our jobs goes up. And this is currently a common problem in the American workforce.
Recent surveys show that more Americans than ever are dissatisfied with their jobs. Some are burned out or bored, while others feel that professional success has eluded them. Stress over financial well-being – which for many is synonymous with professional success – is the primary source of discontent. Indeed, when people are asked if they could have anything in the world right now, most report wanting “more money.”
The issue here, however, is not so much the actual jobs we are doing. It is an emotion-based dissatisfaction. In fact, researchers studying the value of job changes on personal happiness discovered that, within a year of changing jobs, those workers had returned “to their original pre-move level” of satisfaction. Because the issue is our heart, not our job, a better solution to job dissatisfaction is to change our perspective in the job we already have. “Numerous studies have shown that those of us who are striving (and not necessarily achieving) are happier. If we enjoy the struggle along the way, we will derive pleasure and satisfaction by simply working on our goals.” Reconnecting the brain and the heart, we find satisfaction in the job we’re actually doing instead of pursuing a “perfect job” that we are sure will make us happy someday.
A too-powerful heart can lead to more than dissatisfaction, however. On a deeper level, this lack of satisfaction can evidence itself in an overall unease about your life and future. You feel as if your dreams are slipping away. You worry about making the wrong choice, doing the wrong thing. Both of these emotional issues indicate that the heart is so in control that it is creating false emotions, feelings of fear, failure, or frustration that have no actual basis in the life you are living.
Think about the woman who remains single all of her life. It’s not that she never had opportunities for love, but every time a suitable mate presented himself, she held off. Her fears of making the wrong choice were so overwhelming that she eventually made no choice at all. Many of us live similarly, though in smaller ways. In our family relationships, we try to shield ourselves from loss or pain. We don’t go on that first date. We break it off before the DTR (“Determine the Relationship”) conversation can occur. We see that perfect someone whom we would love to pursue. But we don’t. We imagine a thousand flaws they may have to excuse our fear of going after them. We do everything we can to avoid getting hurt by making what might be the wrong choice. And the result of that tactic is always more pain and less love. As C.S. Lewis said in The Four Loves:
“There is no safe investment. To love at all is to be vulnerable. Love anything, and your heart will certainly be wrung and possibly broken. If you want to be sure of keeping it intact…lock it up safe in the casket or coffin of your selfishness. But in that casket…it will change. It will not be broken; it will become unbreakable, impenetrable, irredeemable.”
Many people try to combat this emotional phenomenon with perfectionism, though the result is that we compound our emotional instability instead of fixing it. Perfectionists might seem to be better workers, for example, but the opposite is often true. “Perfectionists fear challenging tasks, take fewer risks, and are less creative than non-perfectionists.” At the deepest levels, being a perfectionist is really a refusal to deal with the underlying fear. It’s an attempt to control the circumstances of our current existence in order to “prevent” any future failures or mistakes. And of course, we accomplish nothing of the sort.