June 02, 2005
From where I sit, the “common knowledge” about emotions seems to be that they are inherently irrational. I think in most cases emotions are extremely rational. The disconnect does not lie here, however. The difference, I believe, is that most people aren't clear on the role emotions play.

When I hear statements claiming that emotions are irrational, that emotions are not to be trusted, I think it's because the speaker is looking for emotions to reflect Truth, the way things really are. In that case, the statement about feelings is accurate, but off target. Saying a frying pan makes a lousy hammer is true, but ignores what a frying pan was designed for.

Emotions are the nervous system of my beliefs, not Truth. They reflect what I believe to be true, whether or not any of it actually Is. I've found in my life that my emotions are very accurate in this way. If I'm an emotional wreck, then it's my belief system that's at odds with my environment, not my feelings.

Why is this important? If I blame my emotions for being irrational then I learn to ignore them outright and deny myself extremely valuable feedback about what I really believe, leaving me the only option of trying to fuel my actions merely on thoughts about what I should believe. This can work in a limited fashion, but then it's very difficult to put conviction, drive and passion into my life.