7 Examples of Emotional Reasoning and 11 Ways It’s Keeping You Stuck

5 minutes
emotional reasoning
  • Emotional reasoning is mistaking a feeling for fact
  • An unhealthy thinking style, or thought distortion, emotional reasoning leads to distorted beliefs and can prevent you from making rational decisions

Emotions are assets

When it comes to emotions, it is important to have balance. This looks like not allowing your emotions to define reality, and using your emotions as assets while making decisions based on facts and evidence.

Emotions alert us to things we need to change and things we should pursue. For example:

  • Whenever I hangout with x group, I leave feeling depleted and worn out. I am going to limit our interactions.
  • When I paint I go into flow. Time passes seamlessly and I feel refreshed. I am going to make more time to paint.

Emotional reasoning changes the asset into an obstacle

Emotional reasoning turns your emotions into obstacles that can negatively affect you. For example:

  • You might think a new job is overwhelming and feel inadequate. This can lead you to think you are not good enough for the position even though all new jobs are overwhelming.
  • You might feel you cannot control your food consumption which will lead you to overeating or giving up on dieting.

Examples of emotional reasoning

  • Bob feels he cannot control his anger and doesn’t manage his emotions. His bursts of anger at work keep him from promotions and cause trouble at home. Bob could control his emotions if he built up his emotional intelligence, but he feels like he can’t control his emotions, so he doesn’t try. He continues to suffer the repercussion from his angry outbursts.

  • Frank feels he ruined 4 weeks of progress on his diet because he ate a pizza. His emotional reasoning clouds his judgement and he forgets that one slip won’t hurt, just like eating one healthy meal won’t negate 4 weeks of poor diet choices.

  • In an effort to be more assertive Amy said no when an acquaintance asked her an unreasonable request. Even though the request was unreasonable and Amy had every right to say no, she feels guilty and that saying “no” was wrong. She is currently carrying a couch up 10 flights of steps.

  • Typically a great student, Hayley fails a test and then makes a mistake at work. Even though it is just coincidence the two events happened around the same time, Hayley feels the two events are a sign she is incapable. Hayley concludes she just isn’t smart anymore and her grades plummet.

  • Davonte hears a conspiracy theory. There are loosely connected events, but no facts that prove it’s true. Davonte just feels it’s true. He ends up selling all of his belongings while waiting for the end of the world… spoiler: he’s been waiting for a few years.

  • Sherry was cheated on in the past. She is now with a loving and committed partner. However, she can’t shake the feeling that her new partner is cheating. It just feels that way even though she has no evidence and her partner is completely different from the last. She shut herself off from her partner, which inevitably pushed them away.

  • After moving to a new city and having trouble making friends Marcus feels lonely and like a social outcast. Even though it is tough for most adults to make new friends, Marcus feels he is the issue. He gives up trying to meet new people.

  • After a few attempts at finding love Layla hasn’t met a good fit. She feels there are no good people out there and decides that finding love just isn’t for her. This keeps her from working on herself and fixing the fact she is attracted to emotionally unavailable suitors.

How emotional reasoning may negatively affect you

  • Strong feelings can be a response from an unresolved past. You can end up treating a current situation or person unfairly.
  • Feeling like you’re not making progress doesn’t mean you aren’t. If you trust feelings instead of checking-in you might give up right when you’re about to see results.
  • Thoughts lead to emotions which lead to action and therefore results. Feeling a certain way may make you act against your goals.
  • Not controlling your emotions and the thoughts that lead to those emotions makes you an easy target for narcissists and manipulators.

And you might:

  • give up on something challenging that will positively benefit you
  • think you are less than or unworthy because of one mistake
  • believe in theories that keep you stuck
  • cut yourself off from good people because you feel something is wrong even though it’s not
  • compact already negative feeling because you’re thinking of previous experiences
  • end up asking for or expecting less than you deserve
  • do something detrimental to your wellbeing because it feels good
  • settle and close yourself off from opportunities

Related podcast episode: Emotional Reasoning & Cognitive Distortions – 60

Benefits of putting emotions in their place

Emotions have a purpose. They alert us to what’s going right and what needs to be worked on. They help us find center. We should honor our emotions and acknowledge all of them—even the “bad” ones.

Check out this article and learn how to fix emotional reasoning once and for all here.

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