For Christ’s sake: Stop trusting your gut!

There are days when (according to my twitter stream, at least) it would seem as though all of psychology and psychotherapy is intent on discovering the biological origins (in evolution, in genetics, in the inner workings of our brains, or all three) of just about everything we do:

Men cheat on their spouses because of the evolutionary necessity of perpetuating their genes.

The ruminations that depression produces allowed prehistoric man time to contemplate complex social problems.

What do such studies tell us about how to live our lives?

Not much. In fact, most people find these headlines give them an increasing sense of inevitability. (“It figures he’d cheat on me;” “I guess this depression just the way it is.”)

It seems as though everyone who’s producing and consuming these studies has forgotten a few things about human beings. Like, umm…

…the fact that we have a CAPACITY FOR DEVELOPMENT!

Your cave-man instincts may leave you contemplating, when stuck in line behind the obnoxious guy at the coffee shop, crushing said guy’s head with a rock. The evolutionary need to perpetuate your DNA might compel you to spread your seed all over the island of Manhattan. AND you could choose not to do so.

You can walk away from a fight (or a sexual advance) even though your pre-historic ancestors wouldn’t. You can decide that you’re not going to give in when the seasons change, perhaps, to avoiding exercise and socialization.

Yes, from the perspective of evolution, our physiology evolved for circumstances quite different than the ones we currently inhabit. But evolution also gave us a capacity to make choices beyond the limitations of our “first instinct.”

Sometimes your gut is going to get you into trouble. Evolve.