When Your Logic and Emotions Don’t Line Up

May 17, 2024

We often struggle when logic and emotions conflict, feeling stuck between what we should do and how we feel. This write-up explains how to resolve this by acknowledging and comforting your emotional side, which helps align your emotions with your logical reasoning.

When Your Logic and Emotions Don’t Line Up

Every person I’ve ever talked to in my life has said something along the lines of:

“I know that logically, I should do X, but emotionally, I feel like I should do Y! And I know my logic is right, but I can’t seem to overcome my emotional reaction.”

Or, “I know that logically, this is so wrong, but emotionally, I can’t help myself.”

It applies in every sticky scenario.

Having a difficult conversation with a teammate.

Leaving a bad relationship.

Gossiping.

Parenting through difficult situations.

In each of these scenarios, you might know what the “right” answer is, but emotionally you feel stuck or torn.

You want to tell that teammate what inappropriate thing they’ve done…but you also want to sweep it under the rug because you’re scared.

You want to do the hard thing and leave that bad relationship…but you stay because you still love your partner so much.

You recognize how low-value-add gossiping is and want to cut it out…but you say stuff because it feels so darn good to get it off your chest.

You know it’s right to hold space for your children when they’re having a tough day…but you shut down instead and pretend they’re not feeling sad because it’s too much for you to deal with.

When our logic and emotions are at an impasse, our fully-developed adult brains are usually telling our fear brains to shut up, suck it up, and move on. If I were to summarize the dialogue, it would sound something like:

“OK you stupid emotional brain, suck it up - you know THIS is the right thing to do, because of XYZ. Get over it, grow up. You have to do hard things. This is a tough world. Stop being sensitive.”

Or, “Get over it. You know this is the right choice. Do it already. Why can’t you just ignore your emotions or tell them to get with the program?”

Here’s a helpful hint for you: it’s because you can’t just ignore your emotions. You are not a robot. It’s human to feel things.

When I think back to the times in my life where I felt an emotional and logical disconnect, it was usually because the emotions I was feeling were remnants of my inner child. (If you don’t like the term “inner child”, you can think of it like a deeper layer inside you that formed through experiences when you were young. We can call these “prior truths”.)

See, that layer of prior truths inside you is the thing that is making you feel those pesky emotions. It is usually made up of a previous version of you, and it is afraid. It feels unacknowledged and unheard. And like all children, it requires a lot of love and nurturing.

So this is how you align your logical and emotional self: acknowledge and embrace the Prior Truth you are still holding onto. Listen to why the previous version of you is scared. Offer it a nonjudgmental ear. Comfort it by saying out loud: “I know, it’s so scary, and I understand why you are afraid.”

I don’t care how stupid you feel saying it out loud to yourself. Do it.

Imagine for a second that you’re at the grocery store. You see a child throwing a massive temper tantrum (as children do.) As the child screams, their parent yells, threatens, pleads, and eventually yanks the child by one ear out of the store. As all this happens, rather than releasing the temper tantrum, the child shrieks even louder, melting even more, a hundred times more distraught than the beginning of the fiasco.

It turns out, yelling, threatening, and getting physical with the child doesn’t work. It furthers the child’s distress, leading to an even bigger meltdown - every parent reading this will understand.

When you try beating your emotions into submission by using logic, pleading with it, running it over with your overlander, stuffing it into a closet, or detonating a nuclear bomb on it, you’re the parent described above. Sooner or later, the emotional wound gets infected, festers, and turns into a bigger problem. And when this happens often enough, you have a full mental breakdown.

If you have ever wondered, “Where did this mental breakdown come from? Everything seemed fine; why did such a small thing set me off?” It is likely because you have been suppressing many Prior Truths still held internally. Eventually, it catches up with you and breaks like a dam.

Instead of suppressing and getting frustrated, listen. As your inner child is melting, acknowledge and understand its pain. Help it see that you understand it.

Only after the Inner Child knows you aren’t judging it for its Prior Truth, then you can begin to ask, “Why might this not be true? What if we considered this instead?” When you help the Inner Child feel comforted, it begins to listen to reason. In this manner, you are presenting your logical reasoning not as a condescending, uncompassionate person, but as a wise, loving, and empathetic older sibling, sharing “new information” they may not know. And it is through this practice that the emotions and logic begin to align.

I want to give you a common example I hear a lot in my friends, coachees, and even strangers.

You are reflecting on your life. You thought it was going to pan out a certain way, only for you to realize one day, it wasn’t.

Maybe you thought you’d be a billionaire by 25. Maybe you were hellbent on hitting Forbes 30 Under 30. Maybe you thought you’d be the founder of a unicorn company by now.

Maybe you thought you’d be happily married with children who light up your world. Maybe you thought you would get over that pesky limerence at work, and stop your wandering eyes by now, while your unhappy marriage at home magically repairs itself.

Maybe you thought the company you spent years at would IPO or get acquired by now, resulting in your infinite amount of “F*** You Money”, allowing you to retire and do “whatever the f*** you want” for the rest of your life. (This one is really popular, guys.)

This scares the shit out of you. You think things like, “Holy shit, my hairline is starting to recede, and I’m still not a billionaire / I haven’t gotten elected to Congress / I am not yet the “Anonymous Donor” of $50M to my favorite charity. How did I get here?

Your logical brain Trojan-horses into the conversation, jumping out like the Huns from Mulan ready to kidnap the Emperor at the end of the movie.

It shouts, “Shut up! You know none of that was realistic! You still have so much of your life left! Who cares anyway? You’re not a failure; what’s wrong with you for even feeling that way? Look at all the other stuff you have to be grateful for! You are so ungrateful - so many people would kill to have what you have! Also, who even told you to hold such ridiculous standards for yourself? You would never hold your friends to the same standard; you recognize for them that life ebbs and flows, but you can’t do the same for yourself? Get over it, you’re such a hypocrite!”

(PS: During this dialogue, here are the different faces of your brain. Your logical brain’s face: 😤😠 || Your emotional brain’s face: 🥺😭)

Okay, let’s jump in here and apply what we just learned. Step one: you acknowledge the Emotional Brain holding the Prior Truths, rather than beating it into submission.

Your Logical Brain takes a step back and breathes. It then wonders, “Gee, that sounds like a lot of pain. Why is the younger version of me so scared? What does it believe? Where can I find the Inner Child that is wounded?” You write down the statements that come to mind.

It realizes that the Prior Truths currently held include:

  • “I have to achieve all these things or else I’m a failure.”
  • “I was told my entire life how special I am when I achieve. Not hitting these milestones must mean I am no longer special.”
  • “I must be so stupid for missing my goal.”
  • “I’m scared of being unlovable if I don’t have things to brag about at the next founder dinner / VC event / family reunion / friend gathering / high school reunion / catch up call with someone else who’s super successful.”
  • “I believed I had so much control over my own success; this is one of the first tangible moments where this control I desperately craved is coming into question.”

Alright, this is a lot of progress. Following the Second Step, Logic Brain now says to Emotional Brain (which is really the Inner Child holding onto Prior Truths) its discoveries through its curiosity:

“Gosh, I’m so sorry that this is unimaginably hard. You must be so scared. And I understand why.

“You’re afraid that you’re a failure if you don’t achieve such high standards, huh? And you must be afraid that you’re irrelevant, stupid, or that people won’t love you anymore.

“I can see how afraid you are that these people you love and respect won’t love and respect you back without these achievements. And it must feel absolutely terrifying to look back and see that you tried so hard, but there were just things that were out of your control. Is that right?

“Ugh, I’m sorry…that’s so rough. Come here, let me give you a hug.”

You allow this part to take as long as it needs. The longer it’s been since you did emotional, introspective work, the longer this part will take. Imagine if a parent didn’t acknowledge a child for years. It would take a lot more than just one instance of holding space for the child to begin trusting the parent again. The same goes here. You must commit to holding space until you feel the emotional you instead begin to give way, grieve, and eventually relax.

Once the Emotional Brain begins to feel heard, like a compassionate parent or encouraging teacher, you do Step Three: acknowledging and soothing it by finding reasons why each of those statements might be Prior Truths, rather than current truths.

Through this discovery process, you help the Emotional Brain realize it, in fact, is not a failure. Next to each Prior Truth, you write down a corresponding question.

“Are you really sure that you had to achieve all things or else you are a failure? Are you really sure you missed your goal because you’re stupid, or was the goal unrealistic to begin with?”

You read each question out loud. You recognize it feels uncomfortable, because you aren’t used to being kind to yourself. But you say them out loud, so you can begin helping your emotional brain align with the logical brain.

And finally, your Emotions and Logic are closer aligned. Little by little, your Emotional Brain begins to think things like:

  • I might not be a billionaire at 25, but that doesn’t make me a failure. It turns out, I didn’t understand the power of zeros as a young adult. I have better perspective right now that beyond $X, more money results in diminishing returns.
  • I didn’t get Forbes 30 Under 30, and that’s okay. What matters most to me is doing work that I’m proud of, not what someone else says.
  • I’m not the founder of a unicorn company, but I am the founder of a profitable, bootstrapped company that I own 100% of. That’s pretty rad.
  • I thought I’d be happily married with kids by now, but that’s not how life shook out. That’s okay. I still have plenty of time to become a parent. Or, I have realized there are other things more important to me than having kids. And maybe I want a partner, but I am self-aware on what I really want. That means it’s taking longer, and I’m totally okay with that.
  • I used to think I needed $50M to have true “F*** You Money.” Turns out, I’m really happy with $150-200k. And I have discovered that majority of the things I love doing, like hiking, being in nature, and relaxing on a beach don’t require a lot of money.

Repeat this process until your emotions and logic line up. Let it take as long as it takes.

Each time you repeat this process, your emotional brain will come closer and closer in alignment each time. And if it ever slips back into fear mode, go back to Step One: fully hear it, acknowledge it, and offer it unconditional love.

Do this every time you feel differently than how you think you “should” feel. You will surprise yourself how much deeper you can love yourself, and how much better you get at practicing self-patience and kindness.

Table of Contents

Get Tactical Resources, right in your inbox

Thank you! Check your email to confirm your subscription.
Oops! Something went wrong while submitting the form.

Read More

Regina Gerbeaux

Who’s Regina Gerbeaux?

Regina Gerbeaux (@_rpgbx) is the executive coach to some of the fastest scaling startups in the world. She is also a founder currently interested in the food delivery and logistics space.

Regina was the first person trained by Matt Mochary (executive coach to the CEOs of Coinbase, Brex, and many more) in the Mochary Method Curriculum.

Her tactical templates and operational write-ups have been referenced and used by fast-scaling companies, including BioRender, CoreDB, dYdX, and many more.

Follow me on Social