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Emotional Reasoning Thinking Errors

Emotional reasoning happens when you tend to believe that what you feel is an accurate representation of what is actually happening.

Unfortunately our emotions are really poor indicators of what is happening because our emotions are actually ‘outcomes’ of what we think or perceive about a situation rather than something that determines how we think!

But surely we must be wrong about this! Aren’t our emotions ‘hard evidence’ about what is really happening around us?

Actually no, they aren’t! If you rely too much on your emotions you can easily find yourself falling off the ‘reality’ path.

emotional reasoning thinking errors - man experiencing a range of different emotions simultaneously

Examples of Emotional Reasoning

You find yourself, out of the blue, having feelings of guilt. You conclude that you MUST have done something wrong or somehow be a ‘bad’ person otherwise you wouldn’t feel guilty.

You wake up first thing in the morning feeling anxious and with a sense of ‘dread’. You assume that there must be something seriously wrong with you or your life and spend the next few hours trying desperately to find the source of your bad feelings.

The problem with thinking this way is that many (if not all) of our ‘feelings’ (emotions) are as the result of a thought that you may not be aware that you have had, for example many of our thinking processes occur at a sub-conscious level. Just as often, emotions first thing in the morning are frequently the result of a dream that we may not remember upon awakening.

Emotions are notoriously bad indicators of what is actually happening in the real world so it pays to be sceptical about what you feel and turn to an examination of your thinking instead.

Tips for Managing Emotional Reasoning

Whenever you become aware of emotional reasoning taking over your thinking, try to pause for a few seconds and consider the following:

Take Notice Of Your Thoughts

Try to become aware of thoughts such as ‘i’m feeling nervous there must be something wrong’ or ‘I’m feeling incredibly angry at the moment which shows just how badly you have behaved towards me’ and recognise that these feelings may have very little to do with what’s happening around you but more how you’re THINKING about those things.

Put On Your ‘Calmer’ Hat

Ask yourself if you would think about the current situation differently if you were much calmer. Try to examine the evidence and decide if the emotions you’re experiencing are appropriate and understandable given the actual situation.

Allow Time for Emotions To Subside

Emotions can fade reasonably quickly, so give yourself a bit of time, and then re-evaluate your conclusions once the emotional ‘sting’ has died-away. Often you will find that you are able to find a different perspective once you’ve calmed down.

The Problem with Emotional Reasoning

The main problem with emotional reasoning thinking errors is that once you decide your emotions are facts that you stop looking for any alternative explanations or reasons to explain any given situation.

You become ‘fixated’ on emotional rather than factual interpretations which can be significantly limiting!

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