AKA The Emotional Self vs. the Rational Self
Ooooooh – I bet you think you already know which one I am going to tell you to listen to; that there isn’t actually any need for a post on this.
If that were true, though, and we all knew that we should always listen to our rational selves – the mind – then we wouldn’t keep putting ourselves in situations we know aren’t any good for us (Selena Gomez, I’m talking to you! ^_^ )
But is it actually necessary to choose between them, or can you find a way to make the two work together?
Well, before we can answer that question, we’ve got to define what is meant by the emotional self and the rational self.
The Emotional Self
The emotional self is the you that chooses to eat cookies while sitting on the couch writing a blog post even though cookies are the last thing you should be eating and in fact, now you are wondering when the next time you’ll be able to go to that one bakery and get those really really really tasty chocolate chip nankhatai (Indian cookies) will be…
That might just be me. :D
But it’s actually a great way to explain what I mean by “emotional self”.
The emotional self is not simply the part of you that feels; it also is a mighty influencer of your actions – I was feeling bored but needed to write, so I started the cookie-eating-on-the-couch-while-writing as a means of injecting some less than moderate excitement into my day (lol). And now the cookies are gone. But so is my boredom! Win!
The emotional self will often seem to be the exact opposite the rational self – doing things you want to even if you know you shouldn’t, the gut instinct that tells you to take a chance on something when the odds aren’t that great, etc. It is considered irrational.
The emotional self is an ironic underdog – in general, it is socially unacceptable to display intense emotions and to allow your emotions to prompt your actions:
“I just had to quit my job, even if I don’t have another – I was so miserable!”
“Yeah, I texted him first; I’m just really excited and want to hang out again!”
Yet, it is the emotional self that drives the majority of our actions and the decisions that we make. That’s why sales people try to instill excitement AND urgency when delivering a pitch – “this incredible deal is only available for the next 5 minutes!” They understand that you’ll decide emotionally (you’re excited to buy the newest Shake Weight after all), but to really seal the deal, they’ve provided you with the rationale for why you need to buy 14 of them – you’ll get 14 for the price of 2 and free next day shipping and the deal isn’t going to last very long, so you would be missing an opportunity to provide 13 of your closest friends with the opportunity to make inappropriate YouTube videos featuring what is arguably one of the most hilariously awful fitness products to hit the market (check out the awesome commercial here)
It’s also why we revere artists and musicians and the like who can “put themselves out there” emotionally for the sake of their art and why we consume so much music, literature, movies, art, etc. They express publicly what we are often too self-conscious to show.
The emotional self is also the vulnerable self – often, there is no way to justify or explain the origin of any particular feeling, and thus making others aware of these feelings can open oneself up to the discomfort of judgment, ridicule, or simply being misunderstood.
We spend a lot of time and money trying to get the emotional self to behave more like the rational self. Rather than trying to turn lead into gold – i.e. it isn’t gonna happen – we need to work towards understanding our emotional selves better so that we can see how it is influencing our life and decisions.
We also need to accept that our feelings (and the feelings of others) are valid simply because we feel them. There is no “should feel”, “shouldn’t feel” – there is only “feel” or “don’t feel”. This doesn’t make them true for others and it certainly doesn’t make the reasoning for the feelings inherently valid or true. But it does mean that, for the emotional self of the individual in question, those feelings do exist.
So today, try getting to know your emotional self a little better. When you make a decision or say something, pause for a moment and see if you can figure out whether your emotional self is involved, and if so, in what way. If you have any really strong feelings, write those down, too, so you can start to learn the make-up of your emotional self. As you can guess, everyone’s is going to be different.
After that, check out the next post in this series – The Rational Self. (currently in progress ^_^ )
Got a question or a comment? Leave it in the box below, please!
(really….i need some more cookies….)