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Emotional Reasoning: Feel, Understand, Decide

Emotions are super important in how we humans see the world, act, and decide stuff. They can help us understand things better, but sometimes they can trick us if we listen to them too much. When we let our feelings guide our thoughts instead of looking at facts or using logic, it’s called emotional reasoning. It means we’re letting our emotions be the boss instead of thinking things through carefully.

What is Emotional Reasoning? 

Emotional reasoning happens when people believe or decide things based on how they feel instead of looking at facts or thinking logically. Basically, it means trusting our feelings to tell us what’s true about a situation. For instance, if someone feels really nervous in social situations, they might think, “I’m feeling anxious, so there must be something scary or risky going on here.” Another example could be if someone feels guilty after receiving criticism, they might automatically assume they are completely at fault without considering other perspectives.

Mechanisms Behind

  1. Brain wiring: Our brains naturally connect feelings with how we think and see things. So, what we feel strongly can really affect how we understand and react to situations.
  2. Past experiences: What we’ve been through before shapes how we feel about similar things now. If we’ve had good or bad experiences, they create patterns in how we deal with similar stuff in the future.
  3. Society and culture: The rules and beliefs of where we live, and how we were raised, affect how we express and understand our feelings. For instance, some places teach us to keep our feelings to ourselves.
  4. Thinking tricks: Sometimes, our brains trick us by only paying attention to things that fit what we already think. These tricks make us rely too much on our feelings instead of looking at things in a sensible way.
  5. Dealing with feelings: If we haven’t learned good ways to handle strong feelings, we might end up depending too much on them to figure things out.
  6. Not knowing about thinking mistakes: Lots of people don’t realize they’re making mistakes in how they think, which makes them rely too much on feelings. These mistakes can keep us stuck in emotional thinking without us even knowing it.

Emotional Reasoning

Effects of Emotional Reasoning

  1. Decision-making: Making choices based only on how we feel in the moment can lead to decisions that might not be the best for us in the long run.
  2. Relationships: Relying too much on our emotions can cause misunderstandings and fights with the people we care about, making it harder to get along with them.
  3. Stress and worry: Always seeing things through an emotional lens can make us feel more stressed and worried, even about things that aren’t really a big deal.
  4. Problem-solving: Depending too heavily on our emotions can make it tough to figure out solutions to problems because we’re not thinking about things logically.
  5. Self-esteem: Trusting our feelings to tell us how good or bad we are can make us feel less confident and sure of ourselves.
  6. Mental health: Emotional reasoning is linked to feeling down or anxious a lot, and it can make it harder to deal with those feelings in a healthy way.
  7. Missing out: Relying too much on our emotions might stop us from trying new things or taking chances, keeping us stuck in the same old patterns.

Causes of Emotional Reasoning

Cognitive distortions are like tricks our brain plays on us, making us think in ways that aren’t logical. They twist our thoughts, making us see things differently, even if it’s not accurate. These twisted thoughts can make us trust our feelings too much, even when they’re not accurate. Some common ones that go along with emotional reasoning are:

  1. All-or-nothing thinking: This means seeing things as either all good or all bad, with no middle ground. For example, if you didn’t do well on one test, you might think you’re a total failure, ignoring any other successes you’ve had.
  2. Catastrophizing: This is when you expect the worst possible outcome in a situation, even if it’s unlikely to happen. For instance, if you make a mistake at work, you might think you’ll get fired, even though it’s just a small error.
  3. Mind reading: This happens when you believe you know what others are thinking or feeling without any real evidence. For example, if a friend doesn’t text you back right away, you might assume they’re mad at you, even though they could be busy or distracted.
  4. Emotional reasoning: This is when you think something must be true just because you feel strongly about it. For instance, if you feel really anxious about giving a presentation, you might assume it will go badly, even if you’ve prepared well.
  5. Overgeneralization: This is when you take one bad experience and apply it to everything else, making it seem like a pattern. For example, if you fail at one task, you might think you’re a failure at everything, even though it’s just one setback

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Strategies to Cope

Getting over emotional reasoning means knowing yourself well, thinking carefully, and managing your feelings better. When you realize you’re letting emotions guide you too much, you can start doing things to stop it. Here are some ideas:

  1. Pay attention to your feelings: Start noticing how you feel in different situations without letting those feelings control you right away. Practices like meditation or taking deep breaths can help you manage your emotions better.
  2. Think about your thoughts: Sometimes, our minds play tricks on us, making us believe things that aren’t really true. Try to catch those thoughts and question if they’re really accurate or if they’re just based on how you’re feeling.
  3. Talk to others: It’s helpful to get different perspectives from people you trust, like friends, family, or a therapist. They can help you see things from a different angle and challenge any ideas that might be influenced too much by your emotions.
  4. Test your beliefs: Put your beliefs to the test in real-life situations. By trying new things and seeing what really happens, you can gather evidence to challenge any thoughts or feelings that might not be accurate.

Emotional reasoning is when we let our feelings lead us to make not-so-great decisions and feel really stressed out. But if we learn about why we do this and find ways to stop it, like understanding how our brains work and using some tricks to think more clearly, we can get better at handling our emotions. So, instead of always following our feelings, we can also think about the facts and make smarter choices that make us happier in the end.

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