My last writing was a piece about understanding experiences through logic and reasoning.
A few people commented on how emotion fits into all this, either praising me for being able to take emotion out of the equation, or saying that I forgot to include it, which made everything I said unrealistic.
I’ve had friends approach me about this too. They say things like, “I wish I could just think without feeling, like you do.”
Thing is, I don’t exclude emotion at all.
Emotion is incredibly important.
The trick to making good decisions and finding clarity in your experiences is to understand how emotion fits in, how it works. The last thing you want to do is eliminate it.
I may have made a mistake by using the word logic in the previous post. I got a few people saying that my way of thinking was invalid because people don’t act rationally, so relying on logic would fail me most of the time. Perhaps I was unclear in explaining that the logic sits at a very abstract level. The logic is just understanding the concept of cause and effect. Everything happens for a reason, even if those things are irrational. (Unless you’re in some sort of paradox, but I digress.)
This is why understanding emotion is vital. You have to understand that emotions will cause people to do things that don’t make sense. We’ve all had encounters with someone who did something irrational out of anger. Yes, whatever they did was irrational, but they did it because they were angry. And they were angry because of something else, perhaps they felt neglected. Maybe they felt neglected because some other person wasn’t paying attention to them. Maybe they weren’t getting attention because they didn’t know how to communicate the amount of attention they needed. Maybe they didn’t know how to communicate because they felt embarrassed about bringing it up. Maybe they felt embarrassed because…I think you get the point.
I tend to analyze my emotions as soon as they crop up, but that doesn’t mean I stop feeling them. I just have this deep-seated need to understand why I’m feeling what I’m feeling. I only get emotional–in the exaggerated sense–when I can’t figure it out, and then of course I’m more emotional because I’m confused about why I’m so emotional. (See, I’m not rational either.)
In case you’re curious, my Myers Briggs personality type is either INTJ or INFJ. I’ve taken the test several times and I never know which one I’ll get. I score very strongly as introverted (I), intuitive (N), and judging (J), but my thinking/feeling (T/F) score is always a toss up. I think last time I took it I scored as INFJ, but the F only just won out at something like 52%. (Both results make me happy though. They are both pretty rare in the general population and that makes me feel special.)
According to this source, a Thinking preference is described as follows:
When I make a decision, I like to find the basic truth or principle to be applied, regardless of the specific situation involved. I like to analyze pros and cons, and then be consistent and logical in deciding. I try to be impersonal, so I won’t let my personal wishes–or other people’s wishes–influence me.
And a Feeling preference, like this:
I believe I can make the best decisions by weighing what people care about and the points-of-view of persons involved in a situation. I am concerned with values and what is the best for the people involved. I like to do whatever will establish or maintain harmony. In my relationships, I appear caring, warm, and tactful.
Thinking is about being consistent regardless of the situation and people involved, while Feeling is more about the specific circumstance and the people in it. The source does specifically say to not confuse Feeling with emotion, but I would argue that people are more likely to make a decision from a Feeling perspective when there is more emotional value at stake. On the other hand, it’s easier to just apply the rules (Thinking) when you don’t care as much.
I apply a Thinking preference half the time and a Feeling preference the other half of the time. That sounds logical. Does the principle apply? Well then use it. Does the principle not apply? Don’t use it, figure out what to do in this specific situation. In other words, does emotional value of the situation override the sensible explanation? Then take more emotional understanding into account. If the situation is rational on its own, then don’t complicate it with added emotion.