Why You Can't Fight Emotion With Logic
I was asked on twitter the other day why emotion cannot be fought with logic. Since this answer has some depth to it, I’ve decided to address it here.
Emotions are powerful
The main reason emotions cannot be fought with logic is that they are very powerful. Strong emotions have the effect of completely sweeping people away. When was the last time you were swept away by logic?
Logic is weak
Have you ever tried to reason yourself out of something? It doesn’t work well. Logic is a very useful tool, but it is not highly motivating. While you can use logic to get something you want, you cannot logic yourself into not wanting it.
The natural follow up question is, what does work? If one truly does want to overcome emotion, what is most effective?
Whether it is emotion in yourself, or emotion in another, the answer is the same: unaffectedness.
Emotion in yourself
If the arising of emotion sends you into a tailspin, you will not have the necessary clarity to separate yourself from it. Separation is your greatest defense.
When you are separated from your emotions, they no longer rule your actions. This is why developing the quality of stoicism is so useful—it allows you to be unperturbed by the emotions that arise within you.
Emotion in others
Have you ever noticed what happens when you stare into the vastness of the open ocean? You begin to relax. You begin to calm down. Your troubles begin to disappear.
To a large extent, human beings become their environment. Their reactions will begin to soften according to the way they are received.
This can be observed the next time you encounter conflict. If someone else is angry with you, and you remain perfectly calm, you can literally watch their anger fade as they see your lack of reciprocation. Calm is contagious.
Where to begin
As with all things, begin with yourself. You cannot truly deal with something in another until you have dealt with it in yourself. Become imperturbable, and the conflicts in your life will systematically disappear.
I have written more about this on my website, in the post titled Effortless Stoicism. If you are truly interested in living this way, begin there.