Category Archives: emotions

Are Emotions Driving Your Decisions?

emotions

I have been having a lot more peace this election cycle because I have been for the most part ignoring it. Several years ago Nan and I gave up our television cable , which is the only way we can receive the broadcast stations – no antenna works up here where we live. I also don’t spend much time in my car anymore, so I am not tempted to tune into talk radio.

Is this because I am apathetic towards politics?

No, it is because my beliefs and convictions are not based on the emotional intensity that surrounds the process as the race heats up. It reminds me of an auction where people make foolish bids in an attempt to be the winner of an item. Or perhaps it is like the process of buying a house where there are multiple offers and people will over extend themselves or over pay in order to avoid the feeling of loss.

The truth is that a good buyer determines the worth of an object before the bidding starts and won’t exceed a set limit. The educated home buyer will ignore the professional staging of the property (which may include rented furniture and “window dressing”) and focus instead on the essential elements. And the astute voter considers the principles and long term goals of the political party platform rather than the individual candidate. In each of these cases extreme temporary emotions should not determine the decisions made.

How about in relationships?

In the same vein, relationships cannot be chosen or rejected by the intense emotions that will crop up now and again for every couple. In the heat of the moment we must be aware of the presence (or lack) of foundational good values that is essential for the relationship’s success. To some degree relationships are defined by the frequency, intensity and duration of the conflicts that occur, but we must determine whether the skirmishes are mostly superficial or if they are deep-seated and destructive. Both can damage the relationship, but the corrective work that needs to be done is very different.

A marriage commitment is serious, and we approach counseling differently with a couple who comes to us in a dating relationship vs. an established marriage. It is sort of like when Nan and I were considering purchasing the business I was working for. As an employee I was “dating” the company. But as an owner I was married to it. As an employee I could benefit from the profit. However as an owner I had to generate the profit. That meant I had to believe in the elemental soundness of the entity. I couldn’t just bail when it didn’t feel good and I got scared, frustrated or bored. And I can assure you that I felt all three and more during the 27 years of ownership.

The bottom line is this: it takes maturity and stability in our convictions to make good choices. We must guard against making decisions based on “sound bites” and temporary feelings. Instead, we must be people of substance.

Ephesians 4:14 (NLT)

Then we will no longer be immature like children. We won’t be tossed and blown about by every wind of new teaching. We will not be influenced when people try to trick us with lies so clever they sound like the truth.

Check Your Attitude

funny orkut scraps funny baby faces confident

I was reading an article online that had some helpful tips for parents desiring to encourage their kids develop some good habits for financial success. It talked about the habits of the wealthy vs. those of the poor. It was solid researched stuff and should have been welcomed by any parent wanting to give their child a leg up. What saddened and frankly shocked me a bit was the quantity of negative and angry comments that followed. Most of the comments were from people rationalizing their personal failures. They completely missed the intent of the article.

It was obvious that these people were blind to the attitudes that kept them stuck and the real possibility that they could be passed on to their children as well. They embraced hopelessness and helplessness instead of possibilities.

As an employer, I tried to avoid hiring people who were angry or negative. They were the ones that were most likely to get in conflict with other employees, alienate customers and blame others for their lack of advancement. I always chose attitude over aptitude. If they had a good attitude they were usually teachable. That was the problem with many of the comments that I read in the above mentioned article. They demonstrated an unwillingness to listen and learn. For whatever reason they would rather see themselves as powerless victims of an unknown and unseen enemy, or worse yet they looked for something or someone outside of themselves to blame.

Although the article was neither condemning nor shaming I suppose it was inevitable that some would have feelings of failure triggered simply by the subject. That can’t be avoided. But fortunately there were also other comments that indicated that the author was successful in communicating his positive intention. These are the people that will benefit. They understand that the right kind of knowledge is powerful as a change agent.

I have observed this phenomenon in couples as well.

When couples who are having struggles have a generally positive attitude they are likely to get better with time. They expect the difficulties to be temporary, and work toward that goal. Those that do not expect things to get better usually reach their goals too.

What sets apart the successful couples from the stuck ones is often their ability to receive constructive criticism. Successful people consider the input and thank you for it whereas the less successful become defensive and angry, especially when the input is given by their partners. It is not easy to hear about our shortcomings – we all would prefer to be praised for our strengths and hear encouraging words. But we grow when we incorporate helpful criticism.

It all depends on our attitude.

Emotional, Logical, Strategic

 
 
When I was a kid I used to love to go to smorgasbords – or buffet meals. I could have anything or everything. It was a feast of unlimited proportions. What a delight! There was a problem, though. The table was big, and my stomach was, well, smaller than I imagined.
 
I was locked in a battle between the emotional and the logical.
 
Eating as much as I possibly could because it all looked good would have been an emotional decision. Knowing I couldn’t because my stomach was limited and I would be in pain was a logical one. It put me in a dilemma.
 
But there was always a third choice. Choose the best and thoroughly enjoy the experience. This is thinking strategically.
 
Often couples will get locked in conflicts over emotional vs. logical thinking patterns. Not surprisingly it is usually the guy who accuses his beloved of thinking emotionally and the woman asserting that her man has no feelings. Strategic thinking would not permit decisions to be feelings driven, but feelings influenced.
 
I can see this emotional vs. logical split within the larger culture as well.
 
There was a motto in the past that said:  “If it feels good, do it” — definitely an emotional way to think – with a great potential for sin.
 
But logic could also be applied: “Only do it if you are sure that you won’t get caught and suffer the consequences” – also sinful thinking.
 
But nothing goes unnoticed by God and so neither position is a good bet. Strategic thinking says God allows us so many good things to choose from, why not choose the best. Like in the Garden of Eden, there were almost unlimited good things to pick from. There was no need to stray.
 
I think the church gets caught up in this kind of thinking, too. There are congregations where they succumb to unrestrained emotionality in their expression of worship. It is chaotic and feelings driven. But God is not chaotic. He warns us to maintain order when we assemble.
 
But there is an opposite as well – meetings conducted by rules, rigidity and coldness. There is no sense of love, and no room for the Spirit of God to move. This was the environment of the Pharisees that Jesus warned about when He was here on earth. 
 
Thinking strategically we would consider the whole Word of God and make balanced decisions, rather than separating out the parts that appeal to us.

In which direction do you lean? Do you need to make some adjustments in your thinking?