My Emotional Mind, and My Logical Mind

The world is full of binaries (light versus dark, good versus evil, up versus down, heaven versus hell, right versus wrong, conservative versus liberal, inside versus outside, winners versus losers, stationary versus movement) and the tension that exists between my emotional mind and my logical mind seems to be no excuse; while both must exist, it seems that the more meditation I do, the more yoga I engage in, the more time I spend in prayer, the more writing I ruminate on, the more I try to understand and recognize my emotional mind and my logical mind, the greater separation there seems to be between these two binaries.

In our society, we often value the logical over the emotional. If we agree that we can determine value based on where we place our money, we can certainly see this ringing true in jobs. The jobs that are logic-based and require analytical skills (engineering, business, law) are often higher paying, we see as “more successful”, and receive more accolades at graduations than those jobs that tug on more emotional aspects (artists, social workers, event planner). This could partly be due to living in a patriarchal society–if we go back to our binaries, we might match the logical minded with the masculine, and the emotional minded with the feminine–we often think of men as occupying those engineering, business-y, law based jobs, and we might think of women as filling those artistic, empathetic, social coordinator roles, and since men traditionally are the ‘bread winners’, they must make more money. We could also say that we like a logically-favored society, because logic and reason is easier to tangibly measure–it’s easier to spot a calculation error in a math problem, because math is often formulaic, whereas it is a little more difficult to spot an error in a painting–because art is often subjective and not as prescribed.

This battle occurs anytime I get on an airplane. Don’t get me wrong–I love flying, and logically, I know that the statistics of dying in an airplane crash are smaller than a car crash, that the airline is going to prevent as much bad media as possible–and yet, I still feel a twinge of fear rise up until we have taken off. Whenever I am feeling self conscious, my logical brain tells me that everyone is selfish and thinking about themselves too, no one is going to notice that small spot on my shirt, people really aren’t as forwardly mean as they are in the movies–and yet, my emotional brain still reminds me of my insecurities. When I wake up from a scary dream, my emotional brain re-imagines and re-visits the scenes, wondering if that could really happen, while my logical brain knows that two headed dinosaurs don’t exist (but the feeling of doom and terror always seems to linger for longer than my logical mind would like). In many cases, my emotional mind is fear based–attempting to protect me from harm–while my logical mind encourages me that the world really is not as scary and dangerous as I think.

We see the tension between our emotional minds and our logical minds with relationships (his is where we get the saying, “my head is saying no, but my heart is saying yes”, or whatever version of that you want to use–my heart is the emotional center–the one, in this quote, I should not listen to–and my head is my logical center–the one that should rule over, but likely does not). In Shantaram, Roberts writes, “the same legends also carry warnings that such fated love may, sometimes, be the possession and the obsession of one, and only one, of the two souls twinned by destiny. But wisdom, in one sense, is the opposite of love. Love survives us precisely because it isn’t wise”. In this case, love is the emotional center and wisdom is the logical center–both are opposites, and because they are opposites, they cannot exist together; I either have love (emotional), or I have wisdom (logical) but never can I hold the two successfully together, simultaneously (unless, I suppose, you have mastered parenting with love and logic).

I most felt this tension when my Opa passed away last April–my other grandpa passed away the previous April, so I had newly been through the grief and loss cycle–I knew, after receiving the news of my Opa’s death, I would go through a period of shock–where I couldn’t conjure up words to explain–I would go through a period of reminiscing–in which I would rely on my family to tell stories and remind ourselves of his influence–I would dread the funeral, and I would go into it as a different person than I would exit. My logical mind knew, and could predict all of these things I would encounter–and yet, no matter how much I tried to rationalize my feelings, my emotional mind still needed to exist; while my logical mind knew that, one day, I would be out of those feelings of despair and loss and sadness, my emotional mind could not let go; I had to exist in the emotional center.

I also sensed the tension between these two binaries a few weeks ago. As some of you may know, the routine that I’ve structured for the last five years is about to be uprooted (all by strategic and conscious design on my part), and as I am moving into these new roles and this new lifestyle, my emotional mind began to take over. While my logical mind knew that everything would pan out–that I would fall back into the kind of routine and structure I desire, that opportunities would present themselves, that my skills would still be needed–my emotional mind still produced these bouts of anxiety that, interestingly enough, resulted in bursts of energy (that could only be overcome by breathing exercises in yoga), sleepless nights, a loss of appetite–and despite the very rational thoughts my logical mind produced, my emotional mind still had to do it’s thing.

So, it seems that, in order to exist, our world must be emotional, and must also be logical, but the human state is not to incorporate both at once?

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