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Reason vs. Emotions

Which do you base healthy decisions on; analyzed or unanalyzed emotions ~ a short interview with Dr. Steve Orma.

(this is raw unedited text, computer transcribed directly from the audio, without voice inflection, pauses etc. Sometimes this results in the text implying the opposite of the intended meaning.)

(Micro ad) . . .
The Selfish Path to Romance - download chapter one for free at Dr or at
Movie clip:
(1st man:) He got a fair trial, didn't he? What do you think that trial cost? He's lucky he got it. We heard the facts and you're not going to tell me that we're supposed to believe this kid knowing what he is. Listen, I've lived among them all my life. You can't believe a word they say. You know that. I mean, they're born liars.
(2nd man:) Only a nincompoop can believe that. Do you think you were born with a monopoly on the truth?

Dr. Kenner:
And they were born liars. This man is making global statements. And he's going on his emotions. I've lived among them all my life. And it doesn't matter who they were. But it's good to know that this is from the movie 12 Angry Men and a movie that I highly, highly recommend. And should you just go by emotion? Should you just go by your gut? We've been told to follow your heart go by your feelings? Or feelings never lie? Do feelings never lie? Is that healthy advice? And what's the alternative to going by your feelings? What are feelings? With me to discuss feelings is Dr. Steve Orma. He's a clinical psychologist and coach in the San Francisco Bay Area. And he specializes in helping adults overcome anxiety and stress related issues. Welcome to the show, Dr. Orma,

Thank you for having me.

So that idea of follow your heart I mean, people have told me Ellen, just go by your heart just go by your feelings? Do feelings never lie? Is that healthy advice?

No, I don't think it is I think feelings do lie sometimes. And that's the thing is, is sometimes they lie. And sometimes they're accurate. And and so if you just go by what you feel, you don't really know. You know whether the feeling is coming from an accurate place, whether it's guiding you properly.

So I can say I really feel I should take this job. And I haven't given it any thought I just have that feeling. If you're if you're my counselor, if you're my psychologist, what would you tell me?

I would say what's important? First of all, it's important to know where feelings come from, a feelings come from our thoughts and our beliefs. And so they're a direct result of how we're thinking, and so are our thoughts. And our beliefs, however, can be mistaken, sometimes sometimes they're accurate, and sometimes they're not. So if our emotions coming from a mistaken belief, then the emotion is giving us the wrong information. It's not following the facts. And if then if we act on that, you know, we're going to be making a mistake and possibly hurting ourselves in some way.

So can you give an example of that a person faced with either going by emotions, or and they're really tempted to do that, or some situations that that might arise in?

Sure. So let's take an example of a college student. Let's say we have a pre med college student. And he has an important exam that he needs he has coming up that he needs to study for, but let's say his friend then invites him out to go to a concert. And then he has to decide between going to the concert, or staying home and studying well, his gut feeling is Well, it sure sounds a lot more fun to go to this concert than to stay home and study my boring. But for my boring biology exam, I think I'll just go to the concert and go with that feeling. And then he ends up failing the exam because he didn't state. So what's the problem is the consequences is is, is sometimes we act on the feelings, but we haven't thought through the situation. And if this person in the situation with thought, you know, it's important for me to get a good grade in this class, because I want to pass it I want to get my degree I want to go on and have a career, kind of think of, you know, think through the situation, and what's at stake in terms of his values, long range values and short range values, he'd be able to make a much better decision.

Okay, so in that in that situation, he needs to really figure out even though it's very tempting to go to the concert, really figure out what his longer range values are. And you would help him with that you would help him just find out the thoughts behind it. So if the thoughts behind going to the concert are but you know, I need a break. Everybody needs a break. I can't. I'm tired of studying. It's too much. How would you help them with that? If those are his specific thoughts?

Yeah, I would say you know, if he needs a break, so let's say he has been studying and he's kind of burned out and you know that That definitely happens when you're a student is to learn how to you know, you know, manage his life a little better. In terms of of giving himself some breaks, but but make sure that he takes breaks in that in that doesn't hurt his studying. So you know, really plan out I'm going to I'm going to you know, study, create a schedule for studying is really helpful you know, I'm going to study two hours this day, three hours this day and then I'm going to leave open this time for relaxing or going to a concert or having fun with friends. So it's balanced. So he's not just studying all the time, which which is going to burn him out. But you but he's giving himself enough time to study and enough time to relax and have fun.

Okay, and what about another situation where a person would be really tempted to just go by emotions? You know, maybe something to do with a relationship?

(Mini Ad)
Hey, I got to interrupt this because we've got to pay some bills. 30 seconds. That's it. A very quick and then Ellen will be back.

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What about another situation, where a person would be really tempted to just go by emotions, you know, I'm in an ever it's maybe something to do with a relationship?

Yeah, so let's say you meet an attractive man or woman and you find them attractive. But let's say you're married, and you meet some other person, maybe someone at work or you're at a social event, and you have an immediate feeling or desire that you want to sleep with them. And you just kind of go with that feeling and blank out all the other, you know, facts of your situation. And you end up sleeping with that person. And you know, that ends up being very damaging to your to your relationship or to your marriage.

But my emotions told me to go ahead and sleep with the person. I mean, it just how could you give up that delicious moment? I mean, just to capture that I mean, marriage can get dull and boring after a period of time. And I just couldn't say no. What would you say to me?

I would say that yeah, in the moment, in that moment, it feels like yeah, this this would be right, I just had an argument with with my wife earlier. And boy, you know, I'd really, you know, this would be really great for me to do. But I think you have to keep in mind, the bigger picture of you know, how important is your marriage if your marriage is of value to you, and being honest and faithful to your partner is important, then is sleeping with someone in the moment where it might feel good for a couple of hours? Is that going to be in your best interest in the long term. And if there are problems in the marriage, well, then that's something that maybe, maybe you could work on improving the marriage or improving your sex life, as opposed to looking outside the marriage to you know, to satisfy that.

So you can analyze the emotion instead of having it a gut feeling. You analyze the emotion, you don't get rid of the emotion and you say, oh my god, I'm really missing this in my marriage. I haven't felt this tingly or this alive, or this turned on in a while in my marriage. And maybe we need to have a talk. Maybe we need some therapy. Maybe we can, you know, put some fire maybe we need some time away from the kids and bring, bring it back. Bring our little sexual life back if that's the problem, or our emotional connection back. Yeah, exactly. I think exactly what you said analyzing the emotion or or introspecting meaning under, where's this feeling coming from? You know, why am I feeling dissatisfied in the marriage and feeling like I want to I want to cheat on my spouse? What are the things going on that that I'm not happy with? And then you know, what can I do about it?

Right? And that's much better because if you do go ahead and cheat. I mean, you and I have been therapists for we've seen many different cases. And I know that once someone cheats, they feel guilty. They can't face their spouse anymore. They feel angry at them. They feel tremendous guilt. angry at the world angry at themselves. They feel like they've let down their kids. They didn't look far enough to see all the implications of an affair. Listen, how can somebody reach you if they would like to Dr. Alma

Yeah, the best way to contact me would be through my website, which is Dr. That's Dr. O R. M

And you have articles on your website, lots of good information and they can even email you some questions. Um, Dr. Ellen Kenner. It's been great talking with you.

Thank you very much.


For more Dr. Kenner podcasts, go to Dr. And please listen to this ad . . .

Here's an excerpt from the selfish path to romance the serious romance guide book by clinical psychologist Dr. Ellen Kenner and co author Dr. Edwin Locke, who is world famous for his theories on goal setting:

So Aaron is upset that Jane spends too much money on clothes to avoid a huge conflict he might express himself immediately without attacking Jane's character. Instead of Aaron contemptuously fuming to her. You're reckless with money you make me furious, which attacks Jane's character and invites a counter attack from her. You're even more reckless. Aaron can say, I'm very upset. We both agreed on a fair budget and we need that money for the rent this month. It's a skill to express your anger openly and assertively. Your body language and tone of voice need to be consistent with your assertive language. With practice, you can communicate your anger accurately, without subtly attacking your partner's character.

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