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System 1 and system 2 - the role of the body

In the middle of the Detant workshop I surprised the social worker sitting in front of me with a question, "Where would you fly abroad?". She recoiled, "I'm not flying abroad". The employee worked there for more than two decades, hard work that would wear down a regular person.


I looked at her again, much older than 60, a kind smile and understanding eyes. I rephrased because I wanted to demonstrate a point, "Imagine this, you won so much money in the lottery that you could both help your family and travel abroad, where would you go?" Here I got a bigger smile and some thought, she inhaled deeply and said: "I would go to Paris", an excellent example of a slow, relaxed thinking, in which choices and possibilities opened up to her.


Another employee intervened loudly, "What do you want to say here, that abroad is better than Israel?". Something I said triggered him, just as I triggered the social worker by putting her in the center of attention. I asked him, was he willing to participate in a small demonstration? Laughing, he immediately volunteered and came to the middle of the class. I reassured him that he can trust me, I didn't intend to humiliate or hurt him. Then, without further warning, I shouted and threw a chair right at his feet and immediately approached him screaming: "How much is three times four?" We all waited, there was no answer, he froze mentally too. "Where would you fly to?" There was no answer either.


I got closer, reached out and shook his hand. In a low voice I asked for forgiveness and explained, this was a demonstration of System 1 and System 2 thinking. I shook his hand and looked for the outward manifestations that showed us all that he calmed down and came to his senses. Together we practiced one of the tools of the workshop that made sure his heart rate went down noticeably. With a smile I repeated the questions, with a smile he answered: "12" and added that he liked to go to Italy, not France.


In a stressful situation, not only is a shutdown of logical thinking, it is difficult to come to decisions because cognitively we lack choices, in a stressful situation even a practiced person would not know how to answer how much is three times four or where and what should be done in CPR.

When system 1 is working, one can't access deep thinking. System 1 will dominate when we are stressed. When the reaction stress is calmed, physically or cognitively, a more advanced way of thinking can be used.




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