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Why Emotions Are Great  

Key Points:

  • Emotions are more powerful than logic
  • Reframe your emotions to be positive instead of negative
  • Think about how great you will FEEL AFTER you do it

             We’ve all heard the saying “just the facts ma’am” which is, in a lot of ways, indicative of our culture’s approach to emotions. We think that emotions are something we have to keep in check. When solving a problem we frequently say to ourselves “don’t let emotions cloud your judgment” or “let’s think of the most logical way to handle this.” Well I think “logic” has gotten way too much credit. The reality is that we are emotional creatures and that is what really moves us.

With regard to our purchasing decisions, the saying “we buy on emotion first, and justify with logic later” is often very true. We may tell ourselves that what we bought was a necessity and made a lot of sense, but usually we just really want whatever it is and rationalize after. Similarly, think about how we frequently allow ourselves to slip up but avoid at all costs letting a mistake hurt someone else. For example, if you miss the bus, you’ll probably be pretty bummed. Alternatively, if you miss the bus and as a consequence, your friend would have to wait an extra hour for you, then you would likely do everything humanly possible to be on time. In this way, feeling awful for letting someone down has a major impact on our actions. So instead of fighting an uphill battle let’s embrace the fact that we are driven by emotions and find ways to harness them in a more constructive way.

            Let’s consider an everyday situation. Unless you’re OCD, cleaning your home or apartment is usually a chore. We put off doing the dishes and vacuuming the floors and especially scrubbing the toilet. Now there are a couple ways to motivate yourself to do your chores. The first is simply telling yourself logically that it’s important and you have to do it. However, as we looked at earlier, our logic is not actually that powerful. After telling ourselves the reasons why we have to do them our negative emotions usually kick in such as “I’m too tired now” or “I’ll just do it tomorrow” and then we procrastinate.

We can, however, reframe our emotions by telling ourselves “Think about how great you will FEEL AFTER you do it.” Two things are happening here. First, you are focusing on the effects of doing the chore instead of the process, the former of which is usually much more compelling. Secondly, you are still using your emotions to motivate you but they are now reframed in a very positive way. You can consider how much you LOVE having a clean place, space to move, a sense of well-being etc. So in the future, anytime we start hesitating on a task we can use our new mantra and think about how great we will FEEL AFTER doing it! Give it a try!

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