Tag Archives: Emotions

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

Logical Gal and Straw Man Fallacy

13 Dec

Creating a Straw Man Fallacy comes naturally to us humans. 

We don’t have to be trained and coached.  In fact, this in-bred talent shows itself early in children.

Kids actually have a knack for painting their parents’ position as ogre-like!

(Disclaimer, all examples are fictitious and do not coincide with my life or that of people whom I know.) 

Daughter: Why can’t I go out with Harry on a date? We’re just going to a movie!

Parents: Honey, we think 13 years old is far too young to go out alone with a boy.

Daughter:  You just want me to grow up as a prisoner of this house, become a nun and live out the rest of my days in a monastery!

I’ve been working on reducing this same skill.  It surfaces on the rare occasions that my husband and I flare up with each other.  For that’s what marital arguments seem to be. They are rarely planned out logical arguments with reasons marshalled and well organized.  Emotional intensity tends to inflame a small issue and our attack tendencies go into Straw-Man mode.

Wife: I would really appreciate it if you would take the trash out to the street on Wednesday night ahead of the garbage pick up on Thursdays

Husband:  So you don’t think I’m pulling my weight?

The ‘little-lawyer’ in the wife should exclaim, “Objection, Your Honor, leading!” 

Here’s another version:

Husband: Sweetie, I know you’re busy with a job, the kids and all, but do you think we could have something warm for dinner?

Wife:  So you expect me to be superwoman AND have a svelte figure?


Is the use of a straw man inducive to further conversation?  Not at all.  It’s a purely aggressive attack – meant to shut down the other.  And being such a naturally ‘nice’ person, I’m shocked at how easily harsh words can fly out of my mouth without forethought.

So how can one respond?  I think one has to resist being drawn in by the bait and repeat/rephrase the original statement with a bit more information, but careful to keep a neutral tone.

Mom to daughter – Actually, your father and I think that 16 is a reasonable age to start dating young men.  How does that sound?

Wife to husband – If you take out the garbage the night before, then we won’t be caught off-guard if the garbage men come early.

Husband to wife – How about we buy a new microwave and a crockpot so we can warm up or add to leftovers?

Question:  What’s a memorable Straw Man Fallacy you’ve been slapped with?