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Marriage and Family

Reasonable Reasoning

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08/01/2012 - The last few articles have been focusing on how to determine if you are in a healthy situation or not as well as how to make healthy decisions regarding those circumstances. While this is not easy, we have discussed the dangerous barometers we all to frequently use such as feelings and comfort and offered some alternatives to help gauge your position. The final tool I will discuss is to use sound reasoning. In order to do this, we must be aware of our own shortcomings that impair our reasoning abilities. When it comes to reasoning skills, I have noticed that people, myself included, tend to be emotional reactors or self deceivers. While these two categories may not be all encompassing, they do seem to describe a vast majority of people.

If you feel you are a person who is moody, tends to "fly off the handle" or if you "wear your heart on your sleeve", chances are you are an emotional reactor. I have once heard some advice regarding people's use of credit cards for "emergency" purposes. The advice was to place the credit card in an empty tin can, fill it with water and stick it in the freezer. When an emergency arises in which you feel the need to use that card, you would have to set it out and allow it to thaw. In the time it is thawing, you will have an opportunity to rethink the need. We can benefit from taking time to consider situations after time elapses. Our perspectives may be different and often the emotions will have had a chance to calm.

If you are an emotional reactor the "tin can method" may be for you. Though your finances may benefit by trying this with your credit card, try applying a similar principal to your decision making. If you are upset, angry or tired of a situation, realize that your emotions will probably impair your reasoning. It's at this time you must wait on making any decisions. If possible, temporarily remove yourself from the situation, seek out wise counsel and commit to what you feel is moral. Afterwards, when the ice is thawed, choose a course of action. A word of caution to you; if you see a pattern or a cycle developing try to make decisions when you are not in the heat of the moment, but do develop a plan of action while things are calm. It may be easy to do nothing during the quiet times, but this only sets you up to try and figure out what to do when things get hot again.

Self deceivers are those who can usually talk themselves into doing anything by justifying just about everything. In my practice, I have seen people justify illegal drug use, abuse, abandonment and various other serious problems. It is not uncommon to find a person justify an affair and actually make a reasoned argument that this was a virtuous decision designed to make the relationship better. The reasoning is very poor, but it is there. While those are extreme examples, a self deceiver may make statements like, "I had no choice", "you/they made me do this" or "what else was I supposed to do." You can know if you are self deceived if you find yourself trying to explain and defend yourself frequently. Also, if a loved one tries to point out to you that you fit this description, take their word for it because your natural inclination will be to explain why this isn't you. For a self deceiver it is vitally important to identify and accept that this IS you. You are a person who will vitally need wise counsel from others. I would also encourage you to establish healthy boundaries with the help of trusted friends and loved ones. Your boundaries will be designed to give yourself parameters within which you get to operate. A word of caution to you; you are never a victim to your own decisions and others do not have the power to make you do something unless you have given it to them. Be careful to not blame others and use the urge to defend yourself as the cue to open yourself up to what others may have to say.

Please note that these two categories are not something I have researched out but am writing on observation from my counseling practice. All of us will fall in some form or another into one or both categories. Recognizing where you fall is not an act of weakness but rather strength. It takes a lot of courage to be honest with yourself. The important thing is for each of us to recognize our own shortcomings, how and when they affect us and how to compensate for them.

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