What Is Emotional Reasoning?

Valerie Goldberg
Valerie Goldberg
Therapists can use talk therapy to help people find ways to overcome their emotions.
Therapists can use talk therapy to help people find ways to overcome their emotions.

Emotional reasoning is a cognitive behavior that causes people to be controlled and consumed by irrational thoughts. People who suffer from emotional reasoning allow their fears to override what it true. A person who suffers from this issue may have studied several hours for a test but will allow anxiety to convince him or her that there is no option aside from failure. Solid facts can be spelled out for a person suffering from a cognitive error, but he or she may still fail to see the truth because his or her emotions say otherwise. People who constantly turn to emotional reasoning to make decisions may need the help of a therapist to learn to separate facts from feelings.

It is normal for people to act based on emotions from time to time. A person who uses emotional reasoning all the time, however, should seek professional counseling so his or her emotions do not impede everyday decision making. A person with severe emotional reasoning disorder may become extremely scared that he or she is going to die every time there is a storm. While it is possible to die during a storm, the odds are that the person will not. The extreme fear the person is causing for himself or herself may lead to missed social and job opportunities if the person refuses to leave the house every time it begins to rain.

Depression, anxiety and social phobias can all develop in people who have a problem with emotional reasoning. Therapists and psychiatrists can use talk therapy to help suffers find ways to overcome their emotions. A person may have experienced a traumatic event that leads him or her to start using emotional reasoning to make a bulk of his or her decisions. When the root of the problem is discovered, the suffer can slowly begin making more rational decisions and his or her anxiety and depression symptoms also can be treated.

Therapists also may utilize cognitive behavioral therapy to help people who struggle severely with emotional reasoning. Cognitive behavior therapy can give patients tips and techniques for looking at situations in a new light. Patients can learn to see all the possible outcomes of situations instead of just the one worst-case scenario outcome they are visualizing because of their own fears. Doctors and patients can go over sample decision-making scenarios together so suffers can develop skills to use on a day-to-day basis.

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Discussion Comments


@turquoise-- Emotional reasoning has nothing to do with intuition. It's a thought distortion that prevents people from seeing the facts. Those with emotional reasoning generally have negative thoughts and they come to irrational conclusions about life and themselves based on these thoughts. These negative thoughts cause the person to feel worthless, guilty or hopeless even though there is no reason to feel any of these. So those with emotional reasoning have a distorted image of themselves and the world.


What is the difference between emotional reasoning and intuition? Sometimes what our intuition tells us may be irrational but many people rely on their intuition when they have trouble making a decision.


I think that anxiety disorder is one disorder that causes people to rely on emotional reasoning. I've suffered from anxiety in the past and I used to make most of my decisions based on how I felt due to it. And the only major emotion I had during that time was fear. So if I suddenly felt fear before going somewhere or doing something, I would change my destination or delay something, or do something that I wouldn't normally do. I had no peace and it was definitely affecting my cognitive thinking process. I wasn't thinking right.

After I started taking anxiety medication and going to therapy, everything changed. When the anxiety went away, emotional reasoning did too. Now I don't do anything sudden or out of the ordinary.

So those with emotional reasoning don't have to be this way permanently. If they take care of the underlying problem, whatever that may be, they can start thinking logically again.

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    • Therapists can use talk therapy to help people find ways to overcome their emotions.
      Therapists can use talk therapy to help people find ways to overcome their emotions.