Rationality AND Emotion

It is very obvious that we have two sides: Our hearts and our heads. And we all know that sometimes they contradict each other. Sometimes we know that something is right even though it feels wrong or the other way around. Both rationality and emotion are incredibly beautiful powers. And both can help us live a better life, be a better person and be happier, or make us miserable and feel like we have nothing left to live for. But how do we handle them, when they contradict each other? How can we handle them at all and how can we use them to our advantage.

The first step to a healthy balance between rationality and emotion is understanding, that both are important and both exist in their own right. Banishing either from our lives will lead to imbalance and pain. We need to acknowledge our emotion. We need to understand how we feel. We live in a world, where we are either over-focused on rationality or over-focused on “feeling good”. The problem with the first is obvious: If we never focus on emotion, we are emotionally immature, meaning, we have no idea what we feel and how to handle it. Focusing too much on “feeling good” is problematic, because it does not allow for pain and anger and their negative siblings and we cannot deal with something that we do not acknowledge.

Everything we experience we need to handle on an emotional and a rational level. Imagine, we had a fight with our best friend. The rational level to deal with that is to understand where our friend was coming from and to admit the points where we were wrong ourselves. But that is not it: It is natural and good that a fight with our friend will trigger some emotion. Sadness, anger, pain. We need to realize that we do feel them and handle them. Maybe we need to talk or journal about them, maybe we want to deal with our anger by working out, or cry. However most obviously it would not be wise, to just deal with the fight emotionally and never talk to our friend about it. And never rationally dissolve it.

Sometimes we feel emotions that seem out of place. And that is alright as well. We can try to make sense of our emotion, but sometimes, there is no real reason for why we feel a certain way, but that is no reason to push the emotion aside and not allow us to feel it. Emotions are beautiful. Being able to express them and show them is not a sign of weakness or a sign that we have no self-control. It is a sign, that we are human. It is a sign that we know ourselves. And frankly once we learn how we can deal with our emotion, it becomes a super power. Because it is how we truly end and argument.

But we do not only feel negative emotion. The interesting thing is: when we learn to handle our sadness and anger we also become happier. Because we learn to recognize not only our negative emotion. We learn to recognize when we are happy. And when we enjoy ourselves, and consequently we learn to understand what got us into a positive state and we learn to repeat that. And when we have dealt with the negativity there is room for happiness inside us.

But it is not all about emotion. There are emotions, that are very persistent and difficult to deal with. We do our best, but we simply cannot handle them. A good example is guilt about past actions. We cannot change what happened and we feel bad about it. And the more we focus on it, the worse we feel. This is one of the points in time, where we need to understand that we cannot handle it emotionally anymore, but we have to be rational and let it go. Move on and maybe come back to it at some point and try to deal with it then. A similar situation is, when we fall in love even though we may be married. Feeling attracted to someone is not something we can control. It is an emotion. It is nothing we have to feel guilty about, but pushing that kind of emotion aside will allow us, to keep living a happy life with our husband.

Just because something is the right thing to do does not mean, it is easy on our emotion. And it is alright to feel that emotion, as long as we do not make a mistake because we based our decision purely on emotion. There is a healthy balance between doing what we have to and doing what we feel like. But it is good to know what we feel like. It does not mean, we have to act upon it. And sometimes acting on an emotion is a good thing. For instance when you feel like telling a team mate, that you enjoyed working with him. That will lift up both you and the team mate, so why would you not say something.

It is important, to control how we act on our emotion, because we may cause harm. But it is just as important to not suppress all emotion. If I feel like crying at the movies, I should. The worst thing that could happen is that I end up with ruined make up. Yes, we will need to do our jobs, even if we don’t feel like it, but maybe we can get ourselves into a bubble bath afterwards.

It is important to tend to our rational side and do the things our head tells us we need to do. Because if we do not do them, we will feel bad about ourselves and this will affect our emotions as well. But it is just as important to take care of our emotion. And it starts with acknowledging them, and then we get to figure out, what helps us feel better. Different emotions will call for different measures and it is journey to find out how to deal with which emotion and when to push an emotion aside for a bit.

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