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The Important Balance Between Reason and Emotion By Jeff Taylor, MAC LPC

A welcome conversation we are having in our culture right now is the importance of mental health. A key component of this is the area of emotion and reason. Let’s look at a quick definition of each:

Reason. Utilizing logic to think, understand and form judgements.

Emotion. Instinctive or intuitive feelings separate from reason that are subjectively experienced.

We need both.

Let’s walk through it. What if I made the decision to help those that are less fortunate, and I said to you, “Based upon my desire to help others I am taking all the doors off of my house and whomever needs help can come.” (Decision solely based on the emotion of compassion.)

Conversely what if I said, “It’s clear that some people need help so I am creating a committee to develop strategies to help, one in which I will have no contact.” (Decision based solely on reason that lacks empathy.)

The movement between these areas is fluid and combines a variety of factors including different personalities, backgrounds and decision making. When we move too much towards emotion our decisions can lack boundaries and the framework needed to create healthy change. If we are operating more heavily on reason, we can quickly miss the true needs, both for ourselves and others.

Here is a simple personal example.

I call you in the morning and I say, “I don’t want to get out of bed.”

Your emotion might say, “I totally understand that! I have had many days where I didn’t want to get out of bed.”

Your reason might say, “I think if you get out of bed, and you get going your emotions will change and you will feel better.”

By combining the two, you could say to me, “I so get what you are feeling. You have a lot on your plate right now (emotion/empathy), I think once you get going because you are excellent at what you do, it will be a good day (reason/decision making).

When we develop healthy habits through reason and self-discipline and combine that with a healthy awareness of our emotions, it will move us towards an improved balance in life.

An easy starting point is to create a continuum, at one end place “emotion” and the other “reason”.

Which end fits more with your wiring?

Based upon that answer, utilize effective tools to move yourself towards the middle.

Answer these two questions twenty times in a day:

Those needing more emotional awareness:

-What am I feeling?

-How can I use it effectively?

Those needing more reason.

-Based upon what I am feeling how can I utilize logic and sound decision making in this situation?

For both:

-Who do I know that is wired different than I am to consult/confer when I need a different perspective?

“Life is not about the situations you are confronted with; it is about how you confront a particular situation.” Charlotte Maloney

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