When Emotions Override Reason
Written by Ray Fairman   

Why is it that when we fully know not everyone drives cautiously with and consideration, we still expect them to do so? Why do each of us expect our spouse to be frugal, even though many years of history together tells us otherwise? And what causes us to rigidly expect perfection from everyone else, when being human means we also make mistakes, have weaknesses, and failures of judgment?

The answer to each of these questions lies in “child logic”–a term I have chosen to use to describe logic hijacked by emotion.

I use this term without any attempt at criticism. Rather, I use it emphasize that regardless of age or intelligence, we all at times employ “magical thinking”, which is usually associated with early childhood development. Such logic fuels unrealistic expectations and heightens the potential for the displaying of destructive anger.

This process takes place when the emotional brain and the rational brain are not effectively communicating with each other. Whether our emotions override logic or our rational brain is too ill prepared to govern the surge of emotion encountered. The end result is still the same, “impaired judgment.”

All too often, child logic permeates our expectations with emotions rooted in our own wishes and hopes, ineffectually restrained by reality. It is child logic that supports beliefs such as: “Life should be fair” when “Life just isn’t always fair”; that good efforts should always yield rewards–when, in fact, they often don’t; and that we should be able to control ALL aspects of our lives.

This concept of “Child Logic” may convince us we should always get what we want, and that others should act as we believe they should, and that we should not have to suffer “everyone else’s foolish behavior.”

The impact of child logic is obviously running dangerously rampant in our current national violence ridden crisis. Individuals on both sides are exhibiting intense anger and resentment toward the opposing side without specific reasoning. Additionally, others advocating and espousing the anger and violence in order to increase their own prurient goals of destruction and control.

There are certainly valid reasons for each side experience anger with regard to income inequality, racial injustice, threats of terrorism, mutual moments of total disrespect and deficiencies in government. These issues can generate a sense of threat and other forms of personal distress that may include fear, anxiety, powerlessness, and hopelessness among others. However, rigidly maintaining unrealistic expectations only exaggerates the potential for destructive anger when those feelings are not satisfied. Such feelings and emotions are easily hijacked by the anonymity of large crowds, charismatic and high profile leaders and the use of other emotional methods.

Pausing for reflection and letting go of child logic and developing more realistic expectations can free us to consider alternative strategies for increasing the likelihood of finding satisfactory solutions to our complaints.

The challenge for each side is to be mindful when this occurs that these conditions form the bedrock of destructive anger. It might be wise to recall, that while Rome was not built in a day, it took far less time to destroy The Roman Empire than it did to build it.

Can you face your real fears logically or are you afraid that you might change your own mind if faced with facts that are contradictory to your current perceptions of reality? My wakeup call came from seeking the wisdom of the Holy Spirit to assist and guide me.

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