I had an interesting little exchange with a friend recently.
She was going through some relationship woes and asking me my thoughts. We went back and forth on a few things.
Finally I made the statement “You need to apply logic to your emotions.”
She is a pretty rational girl so her response really surprised me.
She said “No I don’t. Not all of us are INTJs like you.”
If you’re not familiar with the INTJ reference, this is a Myers-Briggs personality typing that is pretty accurate in describing me.
INTJ stands for Introverted, iNtuitive, Thinking, Judging.
The Myers-Briggs folks have their own unique definitions for each of these terms.
That’s not important for my purposes here.
The main take away is that INTJs like me are systematizers who (shock!) apply logical systemization to everything we do.
In fact we are said to begin systematization early in life and build a monolithic system that encompasses pretty well everything we experience.
You can read a pretty good summary of INTJs here.
As an INTJ I love knowledge…but always for practical purposes.
I don’t learn things just to learn them.
I want to understand how life works so I can live it, and help others live it too.
I know exactly what I do know and exactly what I don’t know.
Which means when I don’t know how to help you I’ll say so.
Because I know I don’t have the necessary knowledge.
But similarly when I know how to help you, I know I do.
INTJs like me are confident people in the beliefs we express because we can back our thoughts up with both sound knowledge and logical application of that knowledge.
Guilty as charged.
I am one of “those” people!
And I recognize that a lot of you don’t match up to my patterns.
But does that mean what I said to my friend is wrong?
Does the fact you’re not as logically oriented a person mean that you don’t need to apply logic to your emotions?
Will logic ruin your love life if you do?
What’s the alternative? Just live your life being led by every emotional shift and feeling you have and somehow “believe” it’s all going to work out in the end?
As Doctor Phil says, “How’s that working for you?”
Logic is what you use to think about anything.
To deny you should apply logic to your emotions is to deny you should think about them at all.
The funny thing is, you have to use logic even to claim you shouldn’t use logic to think about your emotions.
You may be one of those people who lives by your emotions and don’t think much about what you’re doing.
But if you are, I suspect you also have a lot of trauma in your life, because emotions are an ever changing thing.
When you live by what your emotions are telling you, you don’t have any moorings to keep your life on track.
That’s why without realizing it you probably usually end up in relationships with partners who are more logical than you are.
At least on a subconscious level you know you benefit from your partners’ stability to calm and direct what is otherwise the storm of your own emotional life.
Let me apply a bit of logic to this discussion.
There I go again trying to get you to think logically!
Stay with me.
I think you’ll be surprised by what I have to say.
The reason you resist the idea of applying logic to your emotions is because you’re afraid if you do that, your life will become all logic and no emotion.
I actually felt the same way about opening up to emotion in my life.
And I used to think I was 90% rational and 10% emotional, while a lot of other people were 50% rational and 50% emotional, or even 90% emotional and 10% rational.
Then I met with a counselor who told me I was misunderstanding things.
He told me to think of my rational and emotional lives as two gardens.
I had spend most of my life tending my rational garden and neglecting my emotional garden.
And I was afraid if I started tending my emotional garden my rational life would diminish and I would lose what I had gained rationally.
But he said it doesn’t work that way. He said you can be 90% rational and 70% emotional. They aren’t related to each other on any kind of sliding scale.
It was coming to realize this that began my path to opening myself up to emotion and intimacy.
The same thing goes for you and your emotional life.
You won’t lose anything you value by opening up to being more rational and logical too.
Have you nurtured your emotional garden so it is rich and flourishing?
That’s great! Keep it up!
One of the real values of having a rich emotional life is just that. It’s rich.
But here’s what might surprise you.
Not only do I agree that everything of value you experience in your life comes through your emotions, I believe this makes logical sense!
Everything that is knowledge comes into your life through rational logical thought.
This is how you recognize anything as true.
But when you think about value, what logic shows you is that emotion is what makes things worthwhile.
If you couldn’t feel, you couldn’t experience anything as worth doing.
Motivation is entirely emotional and feeling based.
Even someone like me who loves to think logically does it for emotional reasons.
Notice I said I love it?
I experience rich emotion from understanding things.
So even for me it is not purely logic driven.
I’m not a robot and neither are you.
The fact is life is worthwhile because you experience it richly through your emotions. This is what makes life worth living. But even though all this is true, it still doesn’t change the fact you should apply logic to your emotions.
Because you want to increase your experience of positive emotions and reduce your experience of negative emotions.
To do that you have to understand how emotions work.
Negative emotions do serve a purpose.
They help you recognize when you are doing something problematic that is interfering with the positive flow of your life.
But to change things for the better, you need to identify the things you’re doing that are causing you emotional distress so you can eliminate them.
And you need to identify what brings you joy so you can do those things instead.
You want to maximize the good emotions and minimize the bad.
That leads to a happy life.
This especially applies to experiencing rich romantic love in your life.
You need to understand what produces those positive emotions of connection and desire for your partner and do the things that will help such love to flourish.
You also need to understand what produces negative emotions that produce conflict and separation in your relationships, so you can eliminate the things that block love from flowing freely between you.
Understanding all this is the fruit of…you guessed it.
Understanding what is and what is not conducive to your love life.
As dry and dusty as logical reasoning sounds, it is the key to having the rich love life you want and deserve.
So what do think? Will logic ruin your love life?
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