In this week’s spotlight I want to discuss emotion. Many people believe that intellect should rule emotion while others are convinced that emotion must be married to mind in order to maximize both. Even at that, there are a few who insist emotion should trump all else.
Logic or Emotion?
The fact is hard research has a place for all. There are times that emotion should rule and times that emotion should not enter the equation. Balancing the two is something that sounds simple but is quite difficult in many domains of life. To further complicate the matter, we find that many so-called intellectual activities are so integrated in bias of some sort or another that although one may argue that they are clear thinking rational people, when you point out flaws in their logic based on something such as confirmation bias, they become very emotional in their denials.
So, the relevant question should perhaps be one of how do we manage emotions, instead of including or excluding them. In other words, accept that emotions accompany us regardless of our activity or intellectual pursuit, and choose to become aware of their influence so that it becomes possible to manage them.
Our times demand we become more aware of our emotions because there are all together too many unmanaged outbursts full of hatred and vitriol in our society. It therefore becomes incumbent on all who wish to see civility raised to at least attempt to control their emotional actions/reactions. In order to even begin this process, we must recognize that many experts argue that emotions are not consciously controlled. That is, we don’t consciously choose our emotions, rather we become consciously aware of them. We don’t say to ourselves, okay it’s time to be angry or jealous. The emotion arises out of the unconscious and once this happens, we become conscious of the emotion—even if we initially fail to identify it for what it is.
Once aware of an emotion, we can choose to manage it. Here is where the conscious mind chooses to allow the emotion to show, to express itself, or to be managed. Managed emotions rely upon rational processes and to some extent can be conditioned.
My suggestion. If you wish to manage your emotions, ask yourself a few questions. Begin by asking yourself about the situation? What do you think you should do and why? What would be the result if you expressed your feelings? How would others perceive your action? What would that do to your reputation? How do your values square with your actions? If your actions don’t square with your values, and/or would damage your reputation, what else can you do? What would your preferred you do?
I learned the hard way to install a brake before expressing emotion. My brake is to walk away for a moment. Sometimes that’s to excuse myself for a glass of water, or a restroom break, or some other simple way of stepping away. Sometimes it’s a mental break—a brief pause inserting something to divert my thoughts. The short break provides the opportunity to manage my responses according to how I rationally would want to behave.
Those are my thoughts—as always, I welcome yours.
Thanks for the read,
Provocative Enlightenment Radio
NY Time Bestselling Author of Choices and Illusion