Ever had someone tell you to calm down? Was that same person the one upsetting you in the first place?
I remember one time when my brothers and sisters were accusing me of crying. I told them I wasn’t, but they persisted. I began to cry because I didn’t like them picking on me and calling me a liar. This happened at the dinner table in front of everyone.
I am a man with strong feelings. Having strong emotions is seen as weakness to many. I consider it an asset. If you are not guided by your feelings, then what else is there? Can one be perfectly logical in all decision making? Let us take a look at what guides our choices.
What people expect to be universally correct is considered logic. For example, having food is better than starving. Good health is better than illness. Being alive is better than dead. You get the picture.
I see people every day who choose to be guided mainly by logic. Their choices are geared towards finding the best possible outcome. They’ll pick the best jobs and career path. They’ll choose the friends and associates who will get them where they need to go. Everything they do is with purpose. Every action is the logical choice.
All people experience emotions. No one single emotion can be defined with any precision. Yet we know they are real. We feel them to be real.
A person guided by emotion does not conform to society’s wishes. They go with what they feel is right. This untethered way of life comes at a cost. Sensitivity is increased with strong emotions. Positive or negative feelings can end up controlling a person who lets their emotions rule unchecked.
I’ve been accused of being emotional before. People do that because most believe being emotional discredits a person. I’ll often try to make a point and then the other person will argue that nothing I think or feel is valid because it is based on emotion. Where is the logic behind that?
This battle between logical and emotional thinking can only be understood properly by including two more ways of thinking. Picture a square with logic and emotion positioned on opposite corners from each other. The other two corners are occupied by rationality and irrationality.
Logic and emotion are simply motivators for thinking. Rationality is about reasoning out those details. One can be rational using logic or emotion.
Let’s say I was deciding who to pursue for a meaningful relationship. I could be logical about it. It would not be wise to marry someone who doesn’t speak my native language. And it makes sense to focus my efforts on the girl who comes from a good family. But let’s think emotionally as well. It would make me happy to be with the woman who was always good at making me laugh. It makes sense to be close to the one person I feel I can trust completely. All of this is rational thinking. It allows one to make choices based on good reasoning.
Not everything is done with reason in mind. Some things happen just because they do. This isn’t always bad, but it never makes any sense.
I get into arguments with irrational people all the time. “You didn’t even say you were sorry!” I would then apologize. “You’re just saying sorry!” Of course. Isn’t that the point? “You don’t really mean it!” Why would I lie about regretting this conversation? “It’s too late for an apology!” You can’t win with people who change the rules with every breath.
Irrational people can use either logic or emotion at their convenience. They’ll take whichever one gets them what they want. Relying solely on logic can be irrational. Some may infer that the needs of the many always outweigh the needs of the few. Many obey rules simply because they are expected to keep them. And we’ve all seen emotional people make irrational choices because they either felt too sad or too happy. “But Daddy! I love him!” You can tell someone is irrational when they only allow themselves one line of thinking for all situations.
I don’t know if people are consciously irrational or not. Either way, simply being rational with them isn’t going to help you work out problems. You need both pure logic and strong emotion to get through to them. The next time somebody accuses you of wrong doing, tell them you understand how they feel and that you will take measures to improve the situation. If they won’t listen to this line of reasoning, then they be crazy. Fight or flee as you see fit at that point.
I’m not saying being rational is better than irrational. That would be too logical. The way I see it, you don’t need to have good reason to help another person. And I don’t need to rationalize why I love someone. The world needs people who are willing to act without questioning themselves all the time. Those who go through life fearless are some of the most irrational of all.
Think Like You Mean It
I don’t think there is ever simply a right and wrong choice to every decision. If we always knew what the right choice was, then would we truly be able to think for ourselves? I do believe some things are better than others. We can obtain the best things using both logic and emotion.
You can’t comprehend the Universe using only one lens. Sometimes you need to use a telescope and sometimes you need to use a microscope. I encourage all to borrow a different lens now and then.