Heart vs. Mind

One of the greatest challenges in our lives is when we find ourselves caught in the conflict between our emotions and logic; the classic battle of heart and mind. Often, such a rivalry is sparked when boundaries are blurred between the two as the heart and mind drift into one another’s territory and start trying to make decisions for one another that neither have any business making.

We’ve all been there; whether it’s refusing a date with someone simply because they dress or walk similarly to our ex, hitting the snooze button even though it always makes us late for work, or constantly drilling it into our partner that their fear of airplanes is “ridiculous,” it is evident that our logical/emotional wires are constantly being crossed (and tangled).

Though we may like the concept of logic and emotion working together to help us make the best decisions in our lives, it most certainly doesn’t always end up this way. For example, when we allow our emotions to make decisions about who we should and should not associate with (especially when based off of completely separate past experiences) this runs the risk of us missing out on meeting new and potentially great people. Similarly, allowing our emotions (tiredness) to dictate when we should or should not wake up for work puts us at risk for jeopardizing our careers. Particularly concerning is the reliance on logic to soothe others’ emotional pain/anxiety; this approach of “snapping others out of their crazy feelings;” interferes with our ability to empathize and show compassion.

It is important to start paying attention to when our emotional/logical wires are being crossed so that we can start applying more accurate and more successful responses. As with most things, a healthy balance in our logical/ emotional awareness is key for enjoying a life of more satisfying choices. It is crucial however to note that this balance does not have to be immediate. Where many of us go wrong in this is more apparent in our relational contexts more-so than in our individual ones…

For example, often we have a tendency to believe that the lack of emotion exhibited by the logical (aka less emotional) speaker may represent that person’s level of naivety/irresponsibility. Those speaking with less emotion in situations that others determine to be more concerning are often considered “unfeeling,” or “cold.” It is because of this that the logical speaker is often met with extremely emotional feedback---phrases like, “But what if you’re wrong,” “Why don’t you care more,” or “You’ll never understand how I feel.” It seems to become the job of the emotional (aka concerned) listener to “correct” the perceived imbalance detected in “logic speak” by sparking more feeling in the speaker. Unfortunately though, this just ends up creating even more imbalance and more disconnect between speaker and listener.

Similarly, there seems to be a tendency to believe that more emotional speak indicates a lack of knowledge or awareness in an emotional speaker. Those speaking with emotion (especially fearful emotion) and in situations others are not feeling particularly emotional about are often considered “over the top”and “too anxious.” Because of this, the emotional speaker is likely to be met with extremely logical (less emotional and sometimes harsh-sounding) feedback from others ---comments like, “You’re over-exaggerating,” “It’s not that serious,” “Relax, don’t be so dramatic.” It seems to become the job of the less emotional listener to “correct” the perceived imbalance detected in “emotion-speak,” by forcing logic and reducing emotion in the speaker. Again, this unfortunately just leads to more disconnect and imbalance between speaker and listener.

We take it upon ourselves to correct such perceived “errors” in one another and not only does it not work, but it actually makes things worse! The emotionally-inclined are made more emotional when their emotions are not validated/reciprocated and the logically-inclined often shut down when faced with worrisome, unnecessary “hypotheticals...”

It is for this reason that a better approach is often the “if you can’t beat ‘em, join ‘em” kind; working to remain in the moment with how others are thinking and feeling rather than trying to snap them out of those thoughts and feelings. For example, rather than forcing logical/unemotional thoughts onto those who are anxious (in the name of “comforting them”) it would likely be much more helpful to acknowledge, try to understand, and empathize with where the anxious person is coming from instead. In doing this, an anxious person is much more likely to feel heard, validated, cared for, and ultimately calmer. It is only then that they will be able to return to more rational/logical thinking. Similarly, rather than forcing emotions and worries onto those who are more laidback and “put together,” it would likely be much more beneficial to contain any fears/concerns welling up within us until we are able to express them in a more sound, thought-through, and sensible way. Though difficult, it is only in achieving this that the sensible and calmer person is much more likely to respect the emotional feedback given, allowing more serious consideration of it.

It is important that we create space for emotional feelings rather than stifling them with instant logic and that we also create space for sensible thinking rather than burying it in doubt. The more we allow ourselves to connect with others’ thoughts and feelings this way the more we will discover a healthier balance in which our hearts and minds can finally work together more respectfully and efficiently.