While it is essential to experience your feelings and let them guide you through certain challenges, sometimes how you feel is not a direct result of reality. Such behavior is known as emotional reasoning, a pattern of thinking where you mistake certain feelings as signs that something is “right” or “wrong” in your life and situations.
It is essential to understand that this is not the same as intuition, but it might be confused with intuition if you are not careful. Therefore, knowing the difference is key to understanding how and why you feel and react in specific ways. Let’s look into what emotional reasoning is, how it can affect your mood and choices, and how to identify when you are confusing feelings with facts.
Feelings Are Not Facts
Just because you feel something does not make it accurate. A feeling is an opportunity to take a step back and notice what is happening around you. By assessing the source of how you feel, you can then decide what is happening. If you struggle to assess your emotions vs. your surroundings at the moment, then using mindfulness can benefit you.
Utilizing mindfulness as a daily practice can help you reflect on your feelings and draw them back to moments and situations as you experienced them. Doing so will offer you insight into the real root of the issue that is impacting your reality.
Why Is Emotional Reasoning an Issue?
Emotional reasoning is problematic because you allow your feelings to dictate what is happening and how to behave. Sometimes you might react in ways that alienate you or those around you. It might even cause others to label you as being overly sensitive, overly emotional, or an overreactor. Such labels could further perpetuate negative feelings and cause you to blame your loved ones for the moods you experience. These labels can also lead you to believe that you are not in control of your moods.
If you tend to use emotional reasoning, this could signify that you have a mood disorder such as depression or anxiety. You might also self-sabotage without intention. For example, if you suspect that a loved one has lied to you, you might spend all your energy trying to prove yourself correct. Taking these measures without using rational thought to evaluate the situation could damage your relationships. Another example could be avoiding traveling somewhere because you have a “gut feeling” or intuition that something terrible will happen. While it might not seem like it, these behaviors are self-sabotaging, which is why emotional reasoning is concerning.
Intuition vs. Emotional Reasoning
Intuition is a “gut feeling” that protects you and lets you know that there is something beyond what you are picking up. When trying to decide between intuition or emotional reasoning, ask yourself, “what is the underlying feeling?” Do you have trouble trusting others because you have been lied to in the past? Or is something reminding you of another experience that is causing sensations you are mistaking for intuition?
It is important to understand that no two situations are connected; therefore, it might not always be in your best interest to judge someone based on the behaviors of others from your past.
Intuition is best in situations where there is a risk to your safety. For example, if you are in a social setting where alcohol is present, and somebody offers you a drink–no matter the person or your feelings to want a drink–your intuition is correct in preventing you from having the drink. Therefore, always using logic will help you assess each situation and make a better decision that is not solely motivated based on how you are feeling.
Overcoming Emotional Reasoning
By evaluating yourself and how you behave in certain situations, you are likely to get a clear understanding of whether or not you use emotional reasoning or whether you are prone to it. Therefore, mindfulness, journaling, and meditation can give you insight into your behavior patterns and why you experience these emotions. Once you understand this, you can then work to correct your behavior.
You might condition your first response to any situation by asking yourself, “does this situation remind me of something from my past?” and “are these thoughts fueling my feelings and my response?” Having such a response will allow you to assess the situation and not respond by assuming the worst.
If your feelings are assumptions about yourself, try to prove that the thought accompanying the feeling is not valid. For example, you might think that you are not lovable; therefore, you should act to prove this thought wrong. However, think of those who do love you and don’t make excuses; love is love, including family, friends, and peers.
Whenever you are trying to develop healthy thought patterns, it is essential to catch the thought, check the thought, and then change it. However, it might not always be as easy or straightforward to do, and if you are struggling, then the time to get help is today. At Choice House, we work with men to help them identify their thinking patterns and then work to create healthier behaviors. We accomplish this by using various treatment and therapy models including, CBT, DBT, group therapy, and meditation practices. Our approach is to find what works for you so you can continue to develop in your everyday life. You will also find that our facilities offer a secure and inspiring environment where you feel free to express your needs without judgment. At Choice House, our goal is to help eradicate the stigma that men can’t express their emotions in healthier ways. Learn more by calling us at (720) 577-4422.