What Is Emotional Reasoning? Complete Explanation

If you feel like your thoughts are controlling your feelings or behaviors, or if you have depression or an anxiety-related disorder, you may have come across the term “emotional reasoning” before. Yet, many are unclear as to what it is.

Emotional reasoning is a cognitive process in which someone determines reality based on their emotions and feelings. This causes behaviors that are not based on fact, but rather, based on the conclusion they’ve drawn in their mind. This is common in those with depression or anxiety disorders.

If you feel like you or someone you know may be regularly using emotional reasoning, it helps to know more about it. The rest of this article will answer all your questions about emotional reasoning and how to address it.

Emotional Reasoning Definition

Emotional reasoning is faulty thinking. When someone uses emotional reasoning when they conclude their emotional reaction to something “defines its reality.” When someone uses emotional reasoning, any evidence that contradicts their feelings is dismissed as untrue.

When someone uses emotional reasoning, their emotions cloud their thoughts, thereby changing their reality and influencing their actions. This can cause a pattern of negative thinking that is difficult to recover from.

Emotional reasoning is not uncommon: In the United States, up to 90% of the decisions we make are based on emotion. Our emotions are powerful, and if you’re suffering from emotional reasoning, they may be negatively controlling your life.

Signs You Suffer From Emotional Reasoning

Here are some signs that you use emotional reasoning:

  • You often let your emotions dictate how you feel and what you do throughout the day.
  • You assume other people’s intentions because you feel a certain way about them or how they feel about you.
  • You frequently use examples from the past to determine how the future will go.
  • You ignore evidence that goes against how you feel.
  • You find it difficult to trust people who tell you things that contradict your emotions.

Examples of Emotional Reasoning

Still not sure if you or a loved one is using emotional reasoning? Consider the following examples of what emotional reasoning looks like:

  • Guilt: You feel guilty, so you conclude you’re guilty of something, even if you haven’t done anything wrong.
  • Jealousy: You feel jealous and insecure in your relationship, so you conclude your spouse is cheating on you or somehow being unfaithful, even when no evidence is there to support this conclusion.
  • Negativity: You feel stupid, so you conclude that you are, even if you perform well in school or work.
  • Loneliness: You feel lonely, so you conclude that you are unlovable.
  • Failure: You feel like you’re going to fail at a task, so you procrastinate and don’t even try to succeed.
  • Fear: You feel scared, so you conclude you’re in a dangerous situation, even if no evidence supports this conclusion.
  • Insecurity: You feel overweight or fat, so you conclude you’re at an unhealthily high weight, even if a doctor tells you you’re not.

If any of the above examples sound familiar, you may be using emotional reasoning in your daily life without even realizing it.

Solve your Emotional Reasoning by seeking help from a therapist
Solve your Emotional Reasoning by seeking help from a mental health therapist

How to Solve Emotional Reasoning

Emotional reasoning is a difficult pattern to break, but it’s not impossible. Here are some methods for addressing your emotional reasoning patterns:

  • Seek help from a therapist. Talking to a therapist can help you understand why you resort to emotional reasoning. For many, emotional reasoning results from childhood experiences and trauma, and understanding where this behavior comes from can make it more recognizable.
  • Take the time to name if something is fact or fiction. When you notice your emotions are starting to get out of control, ask yourself the following question: “Is this fact or did I make this reality in my mind?”
  • Stop what you’re doing, take deep breaths, and name three facts. These facts can be simple or obvious, such as “I am at the park” or “The grass is green,” but even naming these obvious facts can help train your brain to think about reality instead of focusing on emotion.
  • Name your feeling. Taking the time to say out loud, “I’m feeling anxious,” or “I”m feeling guilty,” can help you understand how your feeling is influencing your reality and your behavior.
  • Practice not engaging with your feelings. Your feelings are always valid, but that doesn’t mean they should determine your life. It may not be wise to always ignore them, yet in certain circumstances, you may benefit from ignoring how you feel and focusing on the reality around you, instead.
  • Consider what you would tell a loved one if they were feeling what you’re feeling. If a loved one came to you and said, “I feel lonely, so I am unlovable,” what would you say? Employ the same kindness and patience with yourself.

It takes time, intention, and practice, but emotional reasoning is something you can address and fight against. Once you do so, you’ll notice that your reality alters to more accurately reflect the truth of what’s around you.

Emotional Reasoning Frequently Asked Questions

Here are some common questions about emotional reasoning.

1. What Are the Effects of Emotional Reasoning?

The main effect of emotional reasoning is that it weakens one’s ability to employ logical or critical thinking. Essentially, the person will begin to accept a reality that doesn’t accurately reflect the truth, which leads to various consequences if allowed to continue.

2. Who Is Prone to Emotional Reasoning?

One is prone to emotional reasoning if suffering from anxiety or depression. Emotional reasoning is also common in those with a panic disorder and unresolved or unaddressed childhood trauma. In addition, children often use emotional reasoning before they learn to think critically.


Emotional reasoning is a difficult faulty thought pattern to escape. Humans rely on our emotions a lot, so accepting that they may be misleading you is a challenging but necessary task. Emotional reasoning allows your feelings to dictate your reality, which can cause unwanted and unjustified behavior that is damaging to your life and your relationships.

Thanks for reading!

If you enjoyed this article, you may want to check out the following related mental health articles:

  1. What Is Offensive Driving? Facts Explained
  2. The Difference Between Down Syndrome and Autism Explained
  3. Is Mental Health a Disability? 10 Serious Conditions To Know
  4. Is Rewatching Shows a Sign of Mental Illness?


M.D Mark D. - Healthline Gate Health and Medical Articles Author

About The Author

M.D Mark D. is a Health and Wellness professional writer. Mark has authored many health articles around the following topics: Men’s Health, Women’s Health, Fitness, Nutrition, Pets Health, Mental Health, Medicine, and Supplements.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *