Logical Gal uses reason to ‘quantify’ emotions

7 Mar


I’ve been trying to find a tool to put some of my unhealthy emotions in their proper place.

I’m realizing that I crave people’s approval.  Having to actually live with the feelings of DIS-approval is what initially drew me to conclude that their approval or liking me was something I strive to earn/gain.  This is a vulnerable and painful place to ‘live’, with emotions dependent on others.

So what is a logical Joe or Jane to do?  Can reason help?  In which ways?

Using logic means that we apply reason.  We are called to support our propositions or assertions with reasons.   And you might, in fact, actually do that if I ask you: What are your reasons for feeling anxious about flying?  Let’s imagine that you reel off several, including your tendency to fantasize or project bad outcomes of plane crashes.

Have you done enough to justify or rationalize your feelings as legitimate and worth keeping? You do, in fact, HAVE at least 1 reason for your fear of flying.  Do we just leave it at that?  Are you done?

Actually, I would maintain that you need to have PRINCIPLED or sane reasons for your feeling.  What do I mean by that?

Quantifying feelings

In my case of thinking I NEED the approval of various key people in my life, this came about NOT from enjoying that kind of affirmation when I have received it in the past.  Au contraire, I concluded that I want people to like me because of the PAIN of expressed DIS-approval.

When I receive the articulated or written praise of others (=approval), it doesn’t significantly improve the quality of my life or even my day.  But communicated criticism HURTS disproportionately  more.  So if A = your approval of me, than -A feels like -TEN A.

Disapproval thumb down

This kind of thoughtful exploration of motivations might not solve our antipathy to negative emotions like fear or rejection, but at least it shows us clearly that we might be investing far too much energy and effort for a pay-off of marginal returns.

There are a couple of tactics to minimize the imagined effect of Other-Criticism:

  • Christians can value God’s approval more (if you’re a Christian trusting what Jesus did by living a righteous life and being punished for your guilt, then you automatically  have God’s unchanging approval and love for you)
  • You can say something to yourself like…. – “100 years from now it’s not going to matter if my co-workers/boss/neighbors/friends/family admired or thought highly of me”

Question: – If you don’t use logic to corral in those slave-driver emotions, how DO you cope?

Driving me crazy

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