Switch theme

Emotional Reasoning

You reason from your feelings: “I feel like an idiot, so I must be one.”


After a hard day at work, Bob came home and got into a conflict with his children. There was no rational reason for the conflict. Bob was just feeling bad after the hard day at work and wanted to do something about it.


This is a very unique thinking error, and an interesting phenomenon to explore. It connects the feeling with the thought.

A person feels bad, and as a consequence thinks bad. This thinking then amplifies the feeling and creates a loop.

The thought process is similar to this: “I feel bad, therefore there should be something wrong with me”.

When we start looking for negatives, we can always find them.

Stuck in the Emotional Reasoning, we start searching for negatives in the form of a question “what’s wrong with me?”.

Emotional negativity can be felt because of many reasons, some of them can be hard to explain, others – an indirect sign of progress, or arising from some natural life challenges.

Emotional suffering can also be legitimate - an adequate response to some life situation. In this case, it is important to accept it.

When it's an error, it can be fixed, and as a consequence - life conditions improved.

The emotional discomfort creates the urge to act. Such action is often unnecessary or harmful (or both), especially when it arises not from the situation at hand but from some internal conflict, or previous traumatic experiences.

Emotional Reasoning can also be felt indirectly as physical body symptoms, aches and pains that have no diagnosable cause. For similar cases, some specialists suggest people to ignore (through acceptance) the symptoms all together because their root causes lie in the persons thinking (mind and body relationship). Some great books on this subject are written by Dr. Claire Weekes.

How to fix it

First of all, it is important to challenge the thought using the CBT technique. For this, you can use the CBT app.

For some people, this rational understanding of the dysfunctional nature of the thought can create a permanent change.

For others, it may require additional emotional healing. First, challenging the irrational thought, but then also accepting the emotional discomfort, maybe with the help of Vipassana meditation, sports or some other forms of therapy.

The emotional discomfort can also be felt with our bodies as sensations, as there is no clear boundary between a sensation and a feeling, and they can merge, sublimate and substitute each other.

If we clearly see that the Emotional Reasoning is a cognitive distortion, the feeling (or sensation), created by this bug, can then be felt in its pure form, without adding conceptualization on top of it.

Without empowerment from thought, the loop is not being created. In such case, the feeling or sensation arises, is being felt for a while, and then it passes away.