Last Updated on November 24, 2023 by the thought method co.
- Emotional reasoning is an unhelpful thought pattern that mistakes a feeling for fact
- It can lead to distorted beliefs and prevent you from achieving goals or making rational decisions. For example, if you don’t feel like going to the gym, then you don’t go, even though it’s necessary for your workout goals.
- Let’s go over some examples so you can spot this thought trap in your life
Emotions are assets
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, time passes seamlessly and I feel refreshed. I am going to make more time to paint.’
Emotional reasoning changes the asset into an obstacle
- You might think a new job is overwhelming and feel inadequate. This can lead you to feel you are not good enough for the position even though you are doing great and 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 try to 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 tried, 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 four 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 one salad won’t correct four weeks of poor diet choices.
- In an effort to be more assertive Amy said no when an acquaintance asked her for a favor. Even though the request was unreasonable, and Amy had every right to say no, she feels guilty and that saying “no” was wrong.
- 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. For example: “I don’t feel like going to the gym, so you don’t go to the gym even though you need to in order to accomplish your workout 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
Want to know if you have emotional reasoning in your thought habits? Take this quiz here