Emotions! Logic! Which one do you pay attention to? They’ll take you in opposite directions. Right?
The logical side of your brain is… well… logical. It views the world as a straight line. A leads to B leads to C.
We also know that pure logic is not always so helpful. Like when we don’t have enough information and allow our minds to make up stories, and then follow these stories down the rabbit hole that leads to assumptions. Or when our words seem perfectly logical to us but end up damaging our relationship with the person we spoke them to.
Now, on to emotions. Emotions are part of being human. They connect us to the beauty of the world around us and to other people.
On the other hand, emotions can be all over the place. Here, there, everywhere. But seem to come out of nowhere. Because of that, emotions can feel scary, or confusing, or just plain embarrassing. And leave us feeling out of control.
If you’re living with a chronic condition, you most likely have days when your emotions threaten to get the better of you. Of course, you might be doing everything you can to push away those feelings. And in doing so, trying to keep everything above the neck, the facts, the figures, the evidence. Which, in turn, leaves you fighting yourself and not accomplishing anything.
See the connection? When your thoughts and our emotions aren’t working together, they’re like two ships passing in the night. Leaving you stranded.
Consider this: Your feelings don’t have to dictate your reactions or your decisions. But pure logic isn’t the whole picture either.
Now just how do you engage emotions and logic in a productive way? Here’s how:
Let your emotions out. Alone or with someone you trust. Expressing your feelings helps free you up to think more clearly. Holding them in creates a bottleneck that keeps you stuck.
Follow a feeling with logic. Why is this making me so angry? Why am I sad? Ever turned a feeling over and over in your mind, to get perspective on why you are feeling so strongly? That’s a productive way to make use of emotions. So feel your feelings and then put your mind to work.
Honor your emotions and your logic. Do it by getting informed. Drown the fear in facts. And give your logical mind something to work with so it doesn’t go to town creating new stories for you to think about.
Listen to your emotions. Here’s another reason to not swallow your feelings. Your emotions give voice to your intuition. So if you have a feeling about something, take a step back and listen before you act.
Feel the passion behind your decisions. Listen to your gut as you make a decision. What emotions are coming up? Let your feelings motivate you to evaluate the options and make a decision that makes sense logically and feels right emotionally.
Use emotion to get yourself moving. Feelings can supercharge your decisions, and motivate you to take action. You know what you need to do because you feel it in your bones. Now, make it happen!
Be grateful for empathy. Our emotions enable us to have more empathy for other people, to feel what they are feeling. Concern and compassion for others don’t always make logical sense, but they deepen your relationships with people you care about and help you to be more giving and forgiving.
Strengthen your coping skills. Our mind and emotions can work together to help us cope with the day-to-day stressors of life. When you’re in a difficult situation, be aware of the feelings that are coming up. These feelings can even be a warning that your stress reaction is being triggered. Teach your mind to recognize how you experience emotions, and then use positive self-talk to help calm yourself and to replace negative emotions with more positive ones. Your rational mind can help you to manage your emotions better.
Pay close attention to what’s going on above the neck. That’s your logical mind at work. But get your heart involved, too. Both are gifts. And when your emotions and your logic are working together, the result is empowerment!