Emotions Mastery [The irrationality of emotions]

Remember the last time when you are completely irrational. When you regret what you did. When you promise yourself you will never do that again. Please, take your time. If you already recall that specific memory, I want to ask you a question. When you did that irrational action, was there an emotion involved? It could be affection, happiness, sadness, hatred, jealousy, etc. I’m pretty sure the answer is yes. Why? Because, most of the time, emotions is one of the main reasons why we became irrational.

To quote the book, Thinking Fast and Slow, Daniel Kahneman wrote that “First, people are generally rational, and their thinking are normally sound. Second, emotions such as fear, affection, and hatred explain most of the occasions on which people depart from rationality.”

When we are feeling an emotion (positive or negative), our mind becomes irrational, our judgments are impaired (affect heuristics: when we are happy, decision seems to be low risk and high benefit. When we are sad, decision seems to be high risk and low benefit), we are more vulnerable to manipulation, and many more. That’s why boxers and fighters should stay calms while fighting.

In fact, many companies and advertising agencies already aware of this, and start using emotions provoking ads to makes us buy whatever they try to sell. The tactic is called “emotions-and feelings-based appeals.” This type of appeals uses humor, shock, fantasy & surrealism, music, and even sex, as the soft-sell component that will trigger purchase intentions. That’s why now, we start to seeing many heart-warming, cute, and sad advertisements.

Today, I gonna share with you my opinion, my own philosophy, and my proposal for controlling and managing emotions. So we could become more rational.

For example, when you at work, your colleague make fun, insult, and joke about you, you are feeling humiliated. After couples of insults, you feel angrier than ever, you maybe felt stronger. Finally, you decided to push your colleague and shout at him. If I ask you whose fault? You will probably project the blame to the colleague who mocked and insulted you at the first place. Well, that I strongly disagree.

Because in my opinion, our emotions should not be controlled by externalities. We should control our own emotion. If your emotions keep being controlled by externalities, then you will always be the victim of manipulation and influence. Not only you will easily be manipulated, you also will be tired and fatigued from the fluctuations of your emotional state. That could result in a condition called Emotional Dysregulation.

One of the main functions of emotions is as the signal to your self, just like the notification panel in your car. If your engine light is on, you should check your car engine, if the gas light is on, you should fill up your tank. Back to emotions, here are several examples of emotions as a signal and notifier to our self that I got from Huffington Post :

So, emotion is functioned as a signal, not the one that controls us, so if your emotions signal you, it doesn’t mean that the emotion is correct. To possess that power of controlling and regulating emotions, we all armed with prefrontal cortex (rational & planning part of the brain). One of the major function of the prefrontal cortex is to control and regulate amygdala (emotions part of the brain).

Back to the bullying example, if you lost your temper and decided to push your colleague, that means that the amygdala is taking control of your brain, your decision is based on emotion, not based on a rational thinking. But if you could and calm down and thinking rationally, that means that your prefrontal cortex is the part of the brain that wins the battle of control.

So what should we do, if we are starting to feel negative emotions, especially anger? There are basically 2 choices (The first choice is for short-term, the second choice is for a longer-term) :

  1. If you really angry at that time, on the spot, then I recommend you to think the possible consequences of your action from your anger. This method is effective to triggers long-term thinking, rather than short-term thinking that affected by emotions.
  2.  Try to investigate and find the reasons of why. This method is effective to trigger rational thinking (prefrontal cortex) rather than emotional based thinking. When you are emotional, your judgment is impaired. So, when you still in the emotional state of anger (probably the seconds after the insult and the mockery), your conclusion about that person that insulted you is probably incorrect. What you could do is, first, hold your temper and move on. After you move on and your emotional state is calm or neutral, start to investigate the reasons why (in this case, why this person insults me or basically why I am angered of those insults). Try to be as honest and as unbiased as possible. After you analyze it, then you could try to understand it and makes it as a rationale (the logical reasoning, that makes you less angered)

I personally have been applying this philosophy for about 6 months (November 2017), and it really changes my life. And at some point when you are already applying this philosophy for a considerable amount of time, insults, mockery, and other things stop to trigger my emotional response. Which both give me positive and negative impacts.

The positive impact is that my emotional state is relatively very stable and far from the word labile. I could focus more on work and become more productive.

The negative impact is that I become insensitive to my own and other people’s feelings and emotions. This is something that I notice not a long time ago. But I guess, just like I said in my post called Rationality – The one that differentiate us from either an animal or a robot, too rational will make us seems irrational from other people’s perspectives.

So, in general, emotions should be controlled by you and you only, not by externalities. You are the master of your own brain, you should the one who takes control.

Thank you for reading this post. What do you think? Do you agree or disagree? Please tell us what you have in mind in the comment box below!


Emotional dysregulation. (2017, October 11). Retrieved from https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Emotional_dysregulation

Fielding, L. (2015, October 20). Listening to Your Authentic Self: The Purpose of Emotions. Retrieved from https://www.huffingtonpost.com/lara-fielding/finding-your-authentic-pu_b_8342280.html

Fill, C., & Turnbull, S. (2016). Marketing communications discovery, creation and conversations. Pearson.

Kahneman, D. (2015). Thinking, fast and slow. Farrar, Straus and Giroux.

Understanding the relationship between the amygdala and the prefrontal cortex. (n.d.). Retrieved from https://ed.ted.com/on/Iyvr2di6

Why fighting Angry Is Bad – CONTROL IT! (2017, January 15). Retrieved from http://reemusboxing.com/fighting-angry-bad-control/

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