Building a Bridge between Logic and Emotion
By: Lisa Templeton, Ph.D.
You may notice while practicing mindful awareness that logic at times can become muddled and confusing when associated with intense emotions. You may also notice that in times of stress or crisis, you become overly logical and push away emotions that appear intrusive. This article offers a practice to learn how to connect your logic to emotion and your emotion to your logic. We must learn to use our emotions, as well as logic, as tools for more understanding and clarity.
Generally, we each have a preference for either logic or emotion. We become accustomed to using either logic or emotion alone. Therefore, each of us are coming from a slightly different perspective in terms of building the bridge. Some people live in a very logical way with emotion at bay, while others live more out of emotion and feeling sense. Some seem to notice the intense emotion all the time without clear logic while others don’t feel their emotions at all. Each situation also lands us somewhere between emotion and logic depending on the intensity and level of difficulty we are experiencing.
When building a bridge, balance is the key. Both emotions and logical thought are important for balance as they offer counter moves to each other. Just as in the construction of a bridge, there is cement and rebar mixed together perfectly to create the balance needed. Both emotion and logic must be offered to create balance. With this balance, building a bridge between our logic and emotion offers us effective tools to use when life hits us with very difficult experiences and intense feelings.
As we are all a bit unique, each of us will build this bridge from a different perspective. Also, each experience may bring on more or less emotions or logic, depending on what’s happening. The first step in building a bridge within between emotion and logic is to identify your preference in each moment and set an intention to lean into the side that feels a bit more uncomfortable – is it emotion or logic?
Once you establish your pattern, then you can change it. If you recognize that you tend to get more emotional in tense situations, you might need to work on compassionately noticing how your logic is impacted during emotions. If you identify that you are very calm in emotional situations and move into clear rational thought, you might take some time to notice your body, give space for your emotions, and breathe into anything you are feeling.
Here are 6 tips to staying balanced while building the bridge of emotion and logic:
1) Connect to yourself and ground to the earth - stop and breathe. Slow your breath down to notice and experience both emotional (body) and cognitive (mind). Use your breath to aid you in slowing down long enough to notice.
2) Engage presence/awareness of the moment. Take the time to notice your thoughts and emotions. Follow how thoughts and emotions play off each other and how they can influence and even distort one another at times. You are not your thoughts or your emotions. When you work with them (lean in just a bit to experience both emotions and logic in the situation) instead of resisting and pushing one away, the balance of both can transform your life to bring more peace, happiness, and joy. Remember that emotions are not all bad. Invite them all within each moment without excluding any.
3) Stay connected to kindness and compassion for self, wherever you are and whatever emotion you are experiencing. It is okay to feel however you feel. We must bring compassion and understanding to ourselves for how these patterns have been created over time. Balance is increased with connection and love. With love, we can change anything. With judgment, we are limited and pushed down. Once we can see how our thoughts and emotions are interrelated, we can bring more love and compassion to this process.
4) Try looking at things from an observer stance/stay objective with a helicopter view. Step outside of your emotion to notice all larger perspectives. What would you say to a loved one in the same situation? What would you want your loved one to say to you? Observe what is happening with more objectivity and less reactivity.
5) Bring in critical thinking. Critical thinking is not being judgmental to yourself, it is a process by which you consider facts and true evidence of the situation. Are your thoughts about an emotional situation true? Could your thoughts be muddling your emotion based on false statements? Ground in the truth that you know to be real based on evidence.
6) Find an outlet for your emotions and your thoughts. We need to keep emotions moving by acknowledging and caring for them. Offer an outlet, perhaps doing art to express more emotion or writing/journaling to bring in more logic. Additionally, mindful walking or yoga can aid in addressing emotion and logic while connecting within. Care for your emotions compassionately and inquire what is needed to address them with love.
With this practice of breath, mindfulness, critical thought, as well as compassion for self, body, and emotions, the bridge between your emotions (body) and thoughts (mind) is being constructed each moment with balance, intention, love, and connection.