Last update: June 01, 2016
Human beings are a collection of perceptions, emotions, feelings and thoughts. All these elements form a unity, and this unity results in our way of being and acting in the world. Our mind is extraordinary and very adept at guiding our behavior, both to lead it towards good and towards evil. Thanks to the mind, we carry out all rational thought processes, but it too lets itself be influenced by incredibly powerful forces: the emotions.
We can therefore say that we are made up of reason and emotion. Two forces that sometimes push us in the same direction, but other times collide and force us to make a decision. We can decide to listen to our heart or to follow the list of pros and cons more rationally.
"The greater our openness to our feelings, the more we will be able to read those of others."
Most of the research that has studied decision making assures that, in general, it is emotions that win. This occurs mainly because reason occupies a higher level in the scale of processing of subjective experiences. For this reason, we need more experience, more time and a greater degree of skill to build rational motivations, which does not happen with emotions.
Emotions: ethereal like air and dangerous like sulfur
The etymological meaning of "emotion" is "movement or impulse", "what moves me towards". Emotions are subjective experiences that push us to act. They basically arise from our perceptions of the world, rather than from a real reasoning. For example, something we perceive as beneficial will trigger pleasant emotions in us, and vice versa.
Many of human behaviors depend on emotions. These, therefore, can be transcendental or have a very relevant weight in the decisions we make. Indeed, we could say that, in general, they are decisive.
Fear, for example, is a very powerful emotion, according to psychologist Rob Yeung. For this reason, it is used very often by the media and is an effective political strategy. Likewise, shame and pride are emotions that make the human being very manipulable.
Let's explore the origin of emotions
In theory, emotions are not decisive, but the truth is that they can be decisive. They are intrinsic to the human being and influence his / her opinions and choices in life. We cannot deny them, but only learn to identify and channel them, for our own good.
Every day we see different examples that show us how emotions dominate a large part of human behavior. For example, when we think we should be more patient, but then the time comes to have to stand in line or to wait for a late person and we quickly forget our good resolution.
Emotions, in general, are governed by factors unknown to us. We don't know exactly why we get so upset when they serve us too cold coffee, when in reality it's not that important. And we don't even understand why we are so afraid of public speaking, for example, when in reality we have the situation under control.
The truth is that the power of emotions is given precisely by the fact that their origin and development are indefinite. They are part of an area of ourselves that is very often unknown and incomprehensible to us. However, after all, every emotion does nothing but give voice to our instincts… The instinct of conservation, of preservation of the species, of defense, of attack, etc.
Are reason and emotions two completely different worlds?
The truth is that there is no clear boundary between reason and emotion. In reality, these are two dimensions of the human being that always act together. Emotions give rise to certain thoughts, and thoughts, in turn, give rise to certain emotions.
All emotions are, in a sense, "think". When they are less rational, they will be more confusing and unpredictable. When they are more rational emotions, however, they allow us to experience reality in a deeper and more balanced way. The emotion that is not mediated by reason can lead us to see reality in a distorted way.
Even people who call themselves "highly rational" cannot escape this logic. If you notice, iThe fact of wanting to deny emotions access to our life is probably due to the fear of losing control, which is itself a fear.
Likewise, imagining actions born of pure emotion, without a thread of rationality, would be absurd. The human being cannot completely give up mental activity, unless he is suffering from a brain injury or limits his functionality through the use of chemicals.
Achieving balance between mind and heart
Emotions are not restless and uncontrollable horses that we need to put some reins on. They are part of us as human beings and are part of a precious subjective baggage that helps to give meaning to our world. They don't have to be "uprooted" or denied or underestimated.
We will have reached a point of balance when we are able to pay attention to what we feel, not to defend ourselves from emotions, but to channel them in a way that is favorable to us. This means that, if we are afraid, the best thing is to recognize that fear, explore it and, why not, turn it into a strength in our favor. If you are afraid of public speaking, perhaps you can devise technological tools to help you address this fear.
Emotions affect us more than reason because they originate in a more primitive and, therefore, deeper area of our brain. They are the foundation of all that we are. Reason, on the other hand, is like a brush with which we can outline the contours of those emotions, to calm them and allow them to help us improve our lives.