Separate your thoughts from your emotions

Emotions cloud the intellect.  The number one advice given to a person in an emergency is don’t panic.  This is because when one needs to think clearly and quickly, strong emotions gum up the works.  They tend to supersede good judgment and result in mistakes.  In an intellectual pursuit like a debate, emotions cause the discourse to devolve into fights, logical fallacies, or both.  In situations where your mind must be sharp, emotions are your enemy.

Intellect suppresses emotion.  I already stated above that keeping calm in an emergency helps your mind work to its fullest capacity.  Whether you have a good mind or not, you have the best chance of solving any problem by leaving your emotions out of it as much as possible.  That doesn’t mean to disregard the emotions of others.  In fact, others’ emotions can be used to your advantage if you can out-think them.  The intellect’s function is to solve problems.  Emotions’ function is to react to stimuli.

Understanding when to use the intellect and when to allow the feelings to guide judgment is an important skill, one that few people can really do to much of an extent.  It requires a level of self awareness and honesty that can be frightening.  It takes courage.  Courage is the suppression of fear, and what suppresses emotions?  The intellect.  Courage is an intellectual exercise, and it can apply to much more than just fear.  You have to understand why you feel what you feel when what you feel is uncomfortable.  In time, you will gain a perspective above your feelings, and you will be able to leave them out of decisions you make.  This leads to better decisions and a better life.

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