Giving in to how you feel will lead to underachievement.
“I don’t want to be at the mercy of my emotions. I want to use them, to enjoy them, and to dominate them.” — Oscar Wilde
Idiscovered this when I was going through my journey to get into the best shape of my life, ala Will Smith, over the past year or so.
Now, to be honest, it’s wasn’t that I didn’t think I was already in pretty decent shape, but I wasn’t quite in the type of shape of which I felt I was capable.
It was like an everlasting seesaw of going back and forth with cutting back on weight and then doing something that would sabotage any losses that I had and would make me put that weight back on.
It wasn’t a lot, as I would consistently oscillate between 155–165. The goal was to get to 150 lbs, however, and I was just not doing what I needed to do to get there.
Even though I was in much better shape than probably the average person, I felt myself understanding what it must be like for someone who has been trying to lose weight for so long but keeps doing things that they know they shouldn’t do but for some reason feel like they can’t stop.
This led me to stumble upon the concept of emotional logic and understand that you have to overcome it if you are going to hit your goals in almost anything in life.
What is emotional logic?
Pretty much is it exactly what you think it would be from its name. It’s logic that is more rooted in emotion than actual facts and has a tendency to help you convince yourself that you should do something that may be going against something that you already committed to earlier.
For example, if you said that you were going to go for a run earlier and then its start to rain, your emotional logic will tell you that you shouldn’t be running in the rain because you could potentially slip and hurt yourself or you might catch a cold, and then you couldn’t work out at all.
Another example is if you were supposed to go study for two hours tonight to prepare for a big test tomorrow and then you get a call from a friend who asks you if you would like to go to a bar and drink for a few hours to catch up. Your emotional logic will convince you that going to the bar is probably just what you need to relax and not be so uptight for the test tomorrow.
Emotional logic is your mind’s ability to convince you to not do something that you know you should do by creating a cursory argument that by you not doing it, you are actually helping rather than hurting your chances of success at whatever goal.
However, when one thinks about it, the logic doesn’t quite make sense when you look at the total of the dynamics of the situation and what is the more likely helpful activity long term.
With the first example of running in the rain, sure it might be possible to slip and hurt yourself or catch a cold from the rain, but it’s not raining very hard and it’s still 75 degrees out. The chances of you slipping and hurting yourself are not very good since you will be running on concrete, and the warm weather would probably make the run a bit more pleasant than it would be without it.
In the second example, while it may be true that you could get some relief by not studying so hard the night before the exam, you have already not studied enough, and there are some new concepts that you know you need to do a bit more work on to understand. Also, it’s Thursday night, so you can just catch up with your friend tomorrow night AFTER the test instead of tonight.
The factual, logical mind would process the information above and think, yeah, me running today would probably be a good thing to not miss a workout or I’ll just make sure to go out tomorrow night for a drink.
However, the emotional logical brain does the exact opposite because that’s the easier path and what you really want to do.
Why do we use it?
The truth behind the reason we use emotional logic to help us make decisions is that we don’t want to feel bad about not staying committed to the things we swore we were not going to go back on.
When we are in the spirit of making the commitment, we feel there is nothing that would deter of from staying focused and doing the things we needed to do to be successful.
However, in the famous word of Mike Tyson, “Everyone has a plan until they get punched in the mouth.” As soon as that first jab of adversity begins to push your mind or muscles to have to work a bit harder than you originally anticipated, then you’ll find yourself beginning to look for a way to give yourself an out without feeling as if you have completely given up.
Using emotional logic is our way of quitting with some sense of decency and grace instead of just admitting to ourselves that we weren’t strong enough to do what we said we were going to do.
You’re out racing and said you were going to run three miles today, but all of a sudden you feel that your legs are a bit more tired than you realize? You’ll convince yourself that you could’ve inadvertently “pulled something” and that you are only thinking about your health when you decide to only run one mile instead of the entire three?
Coming up on your third day on your diet and started to feel some true hunger pains, as your body is used to having a full belly? You’ll then convince yourself that you need to eat more because it’s making you a bit irritable, and that’s not good for your psyche in the long run. What’s the point of being in shape if you’re mean to everyone around you?
You’ll find yourself talking to yourself and giving reasons why you need to rethink your original commitment and be more “realistic” or “not so hard” on yourself. This is what many of us do all the time and a big reason that many of us never even come close to hitting our goals.
How do we prevent this?
The first step in preventing this from poisoning your mind and preventing you from achieving all of which you are capable of is to recognize it.
You have to recognize when you are in a situation in which you find yourself trying to give a reason why you cannot do something to which you had already committed.
As you listen to the reason that you are trying to talk yourself out of what you committed, you must then ask yourself how much of it is based on how you are feeling right now, as opposed to the facts of the situation.
Did you really pull something and can’t run for the agreed-upon three miles or are your legs just hurting after one mile and you are chickening out a bit?
Is your empty stomach really making you so irritable that you feel you have to go eat that sleeve of Oreo cookies or could you get an apple instead to help it subside until you get ready for dinner tonight?
It’s all about looking at your thought process and following it back to its origin to understand if it’s coming from your brain and is logical or is it moreso coming from your emotions and not based on anything other than your feelings.
Whenever we think we are experiencing emotional logic’s influence, we should take a minute and think through all the facts or logistics of the situation and think through the outcomes of both situations to see which one makes the most sense.
We need to extrapolate our thinking to work through what will happen if we don’t just think about how we are feeling in our MOD (Moment of Discomfort) but how we will feel afterward knowing that we broke our commitment.
Thinking through the feeling after this decision is made and if this decision will create more work in the long term should help us understand which one is better for us overall. With emotional logic, you will find yourself trying to explain away a number of things that just don’t hold up under hard scrutiny.
Make sure you are taking time to scrutinize your decisions and do your best to hold it under the logic test to see if your brain is influencing you to make this decision or if you are being led by your emotions and feelings.
And while I can’t promise you that you will make the right decision always, you’ll at least put yourself in a much better position to not make the wrong one.