Monday, January 24, 2022

Emotions At Play

 A while back I needed to write a letter to a group of men detailing my concerns about a serious matter. My husband read it and then suggested removing the emotion. "Only the facts," he said. "They won’t be able to hear you for the emotion," he said. "They won’t take you seriously." Sigh. 

A few years ago I was part of a group pulling together questions for a congregational survey. Many of my questions were “Do you feel…” They were changed. Changed to “Do you think…” There was clearly a discomfort with feeling. It was not of significance. Not to be trusted. Feelings were not valid. They didn't matter. 

There are some crazy ideas out there. The most recent articulation of one of those crazy ideas comes from a guy named Bnonn Tennant who seems to have hit the mother lode of crazy ideas. Here is what he says:

 "Scripture says women are not to teach, and it is because women can be a lot more gullible and a lot more prone to being swayed by feelings of others or swayed by feelings of themselves."



I have seen the very people who rail against emotion stand up in anger and berate others. I have seen them jump to defensiveness, cower in fear, explode in outrage.

The problem isn’t emotions. The problem is not recognizing emotions at play.

Fifteen years ago I had a real estate client who was eager to move his family to Asheville from a different state. This man was a highly successful in his line of work and even boasted of the celebrities in his neighborhood. He let me know how much his house was worth (over $2 million) but that his expectation was to get a house for about a third of that value in Asheville (isn’t this always the case?).

After looking at so many houses (my record of 24 in one day), he was exasperated and understandably so. The housing stock and topography around here make for so many more variables when house hunting.

Him: “How does anybody ever make a decision?”

Me: “Well, sometimes you just fall in love with a house.”

Him: “You are clearly not used to working with as savvy of a buyer as I am. I NEVER allow emotions to get in the way of my business decisions.”

Well, he didn’t fall in love with a house. But his wife did. I mean REALLY did.

This house was priced well under what he expected to spend and so he made an offer. A low one. And the negotiations went back and forth a number of times, each time with him moving an inch when he easily could have afforded to move several feet. I was baffled. It met all the criteria. It was a great deal, even a great business deal. And his wife and daughter loved it. And after one round of negotiations I questioned what was going on. He replied, "You don't understand. I just can't let him win." 

Hmmmm. And you don't let any emotions color your business decisions? 

He moved on. We looked at close to 70 houses. He made offers on several other houses but would never agree to any terms. 

After four months of working with this man the truth finally came out. He was not ready to make the move. It felt too much like retirement for him. It made him feel old. 

I don't know if he ever caught on to the irony of his comment. From where I sat I could see his emotions playing into an awful lot of his decisions. 

We all have emotions that impact us. And that is a good thing. Emotions can tell us a lot about ourselves and what is going on our lives. Emotions are like the dashboard lights on our cars. We best pay attention. 

Emotions aren't a bad thing. They do not hurt us. But refusing to acknowledge when they are at play, well that can do a tremendous amount of harm.  

1 comment:

  1. Along with what you are saying, I’ve had apologetic conversations with both men and women. The women will often give an emotional objection up front. They will say God is mean or something like that.

    The men will immediately go to science. But when their scientific objections are answered, the real truth will come out. They will sarcastically say their dad was a pastor and a hypocrite or something like that. The science and logic was just a pretense.