Are you an emotional thinker? Then you need to read this...

chariot rider
"First the charioteer of the human soul drives a pair, and secondly one of the horses is noble and of noble breed, but the other quite the opposite in breed and character. Therefore in our case the driving is necessarily difficult and troublesome"

Plato wrote that allergory to the human soul and described the mind as being driven by two horses - one of noble breed, referring to the rational mind; and the other of wilder breed, referring to the emotional mind. And it is the charioteer - us - who needs to control the wild nature of the emotional mind, to let it fall in line with the noble nature of the rational mind.

For more than 2400 years, man has been plagued by the duality of mind - the emotional and the rational. Plagued, because it seems like the emotional mind causes havoc to the structured course of the rational mind, leading Plato to conclude that the driving is "difficult and troublesome".

An emtional thinker will have many of these difficult and troublesome episodes. Since the emotional mind thinks so fast, it jumps to conclusion very quickly, and insulates itself from rational discourse by acting. It sometimes resorts to burning bridges before the rational mind comes to the scene, leaving behind carnage that might not be able to be rebuilt. I am sure many of you can understand this and may even have had experienced it yourself.

It is not that it happens all the time. For most mundane instances, it simply reacts as it always has, turning out very good work. But this work will be disrupted when a situation that the person has not encountered before surfaces. It is then that it reacts, using biased information to quickly settle the ripples. But it usually turns out to have the opposite effect, causing the ripples to grow into a tsunami.

So what should an emotional thinker do?

1. Realise that you are an emotional thinker

Awareness is key. If you don't know that your decisions are being ruled by your emotions, and you tend to react with emotions when push comes to shove, then there's no helping. So,

  • if you've always been quick to judge people,

  • if you've always made fast decisions with little regard for information,

  • if you've always been perturbed by the apparent "slowness" of people around you,

you are an emotional thinker. Mind you, there's nothing inherently wrong with being one, and there are many good reasons why one would want to be led by an emotional thinker. It's just that sometimes, it can be destructive.

2. When you are making a big decision, slow down

Emotional thinkers react quickly. In a disaster situation, (s)he would be an asset because of the take-charge nature that quick thinking affords. But not all situations are disaster situations; and not all situations require a quick response. Put some distance between your situation and the decision. Force your emotions to calm down. Do some meditation. Go for a long walk. Work out the excess adrenaline. The more rational distance you can put between the situation and the decision, the more balanced you become. And the higher the chances of making the right decision.

3. Write down your ideas and assess them later

One more way to put distance between the situation and the decision is to write down your thoughts. Put all the elements of the situation on a piece of paper and then let it chill. The problem with emotional thinkers is that they cannot do this without going into a negative spiral like - the longer they wait, the worse the situation will become; or they highlight the negative element of the situation and blows it all out of proportion, forcing them to make the quick decision. This must be avoided by diving into something that will take the emotional thinker's attention away from the situation for a few days, something that will give a positive outcome and balance the emotional thinker's perspectives. Only then should the emotional thinker return to his/her thoughts and with this perspective, see if better solutions appear.

4. Talk to someone who can push you back into the box

An emotional thinker cannot seek new perspectives from another emotional thinker. They might both reinforce themselves. Instead find someone who understands the way emotional thinkers work, someone who can both assuage the emotional thinker's ego (and it's almost always about ego!) and line them back into the structure of rational thinking - to push them back into the box, so to speak. This someone needs to be directive, parrying the efforts of the emotional thinker to justify his/her way back to the single perspective. Finding someone like this is not easy, yet is extremely important to give balance to the emotional thinker.

Exhilerating, and yet, frustrating

Working with an emotional thinker can be both exhilerating and frustrating. Exhilerating because when caught on the right wind, the emotional thinker can go far, pulling everyone along for the ride. Frustrating because the emotional thinker craves speed, and things need to be done yesterday. When things don't turn out well, the emotional thinker reacts by changing course, thereby setting himself/herself up for another round of whirlwind activity. Many a times, these activities take time to bear fruit, time that the emotional thinker doesn't give. But when the emotional thinker can heed these four points, the exhileration will be more than the frustration, and (s)he will be a positive force for growth.

Are you an emotional thinker?

Do you need support in getting balanced? Do you need to talk to someone who understands how the emotional thinker works and how to coach him/her to the right decision? If so, drop us an email at and get the help you know you need!

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