Some people are more guided by their emotions and others more guided by their intellect.
Knowing where you stand can help you enormously in growing your self-awareness
Here are the top indicators that you make decisions more based on reason than on emotions.
1) You always consider facts first
Rational thinkers always consider facts first.
No matter how upsetting or inspiring something may be, you don’t start by thinking of the feelings associated with it.
For example, if you are studying the Second World War, you are aware that it’s a horrendous time in history when millions of innocent people needlessly lost their lives.
But while many sources you come across emphasize the trauma, you prefer to start by tackling the facts.
You want facts and figures, hard-nosed analyses, legal changes wrought by treaties (rather than popular reactions to treaties), population breakdowns, employment statistics, and so on…
You want to tackle this horrible war from the ground up, rather than starting from ideas or broad historical events.
This is the mark of a rationalist.
2) You find emotional debates off-putting
In the above example you may come across debates about ideological subjects or discussions of racism, extremism and other isms.
You are aware these are measurable and demonstrable forces in history, but you’re also aware of the potential to miss other big-picture forces like economic, social and geographical factors.
You are aware that many different groups have intensely emotional feelings about what happened and that many of the wounds from the war still haven’t fully healed.
Many materials you come across talk about the psychological and traumatic impact of war on civilians, soldiers and nations.
Books and documentaries also speak a lot about the economic and social upheaval caused by this global conflict and how it was started mainly by several factors and malicious actors with deranged ideologies and plans.
But you start from looking at facts and figures.
You read source materials.
You consider under-reported aspects.
You start by looking at the observable numbers and facts rather than the emotional or ideological aspects.
3) You dismiss ideas based on strong emotions
It’s certainly possible to have a subject or issue where people feel strongly and logic and facts are also on their side.
But as a rational thinker you are put off by displays of strong emotion used to try to convince you.
For example, if a bank teller becomes incredibly happy and gesticulates frenetically as they try to get you to sign up for a new credit card, you’re likely to resist and not want it.
You want to know the details of the annual percentage rate (APR) and the fine print on the rewards program.
You don’t want a gushy teller trying to act like it would be the greatest day since sliced bread if you signed up for the card.
Enthusiasm and charm doesn’t draw you in: facts do.
4) You try to find the rational roots of world problems and challenges
As a rational thinker, you want to find the measurable and understandable roots of world problems and challenges.
You fully admit that greed, hate, lust for power and materialism drive many of the problems the world faces in our current and past ages.
But you want to find ways to impact this in a measurable and definite way.
Whereas a more emotional thinker might develop a speaking tour where they urge lawmakers and citizens to support more cross-cultural engagement and investment in poor nations, a rational thinker would be more likely to study international law or try to analyze how flawed crop rotation and distribution in sub-Saharan Africa drives poverty.
As a rational thinker you understand the desire to connect to people on the emotional level.
However it’s more your cup of tea to try to speak and effect change in practical, measurable ways.
5) You think more about data sets and patterns than subjective experiences
The next key marker that you’re more of a rational thinker is that you focus more on pure principles than on individual subjective experiences.
What this means more or less is that you prefer to look at the facts of the big picture.
For example while you may not be fond of marriage and may not wish to have children, and your friend may feel the opposite, neither of these are nearly as important to you as what the data says about marriage.
Does marriage relate to mortality rate?
Do married couples have children who are less or more prone to criminality?
Is there any perceptible link between a nation or state’s marriage rate and its drug abuse or drug overdose statistics?
If you find out things that go against your own feelings or somebody else’s, that’s fine.
What’s important to you, and far more interesting to think about, is why certain topics seem to correlate or not correlate in certain ways, regardless of whether they confirm or go against you or anybody else’s preferences.
6) You find emotional religious and spiritual paths embarrassing
As a more rational thinker you still have plenty of emotions and empathy.
Seeing somebody cry makes you concerned, and you still feel and react to fear if you’re walking down a dark alley at night and see a shadowy figure lurking behind you.
But you find voluntary external displays of emotion embarrassing and off-putting for the most part.
This is especially true when it comes to religion and spirituality.
Emotional gurus crying onstage and “cleansing” people, and televangelists shouting with joy or collapsing in “holy laughter” on the floor don’t appeal to you at all.
In fact it’s more likely to make you laugh than to actually be interested or convinced in any way.
By contrast, if you are presented with a spiritual or religious system that starts from reasoning or appealing to your logic, you are far more likely to give it a fair hearing or even potentially be convinced.
7) You find romantic partners frustrating and unattractive when they become emotional
As a rational thinker, you find it difficult if romantic partners and loved ones rely on emotion to think things through.
For example, when making decisions, this can lead to some significant conflicts.
If your boyfriend is talking about how depressing he finds it living in Sioux City, North Dakota and you’re thinking more about the great job opportunity he’s just found there, you find his focus on emotions upsetting.
Why can’t he see that his feelings about the specific place aren’t as important as the amazing job opportunity he’s been offered there?
This different way of approaching decision-making and issues can definitely lead to some tensions in relationships.
Relying more on emotions or reason is not necessarily about being “wrong” or “right” but can often be two different ways of being right.
However your rationality makes you hesitant to get too deeply into disagreements and you tend to exit fights or disagreements before they spin out of control.
After all, it just doesn’t make much sense to you to argue with someone who’s mainly talking from an emotional, feeling-based perspective.
8) You are organized and systematic
Another key clue that you’re more of a rational thinker is that you’re organized and systematic in most areas of your life.
The perfect example of this comes from your computer or laptop desktop, the area where you organize your main icons.
How does it look?
As a more rational thinking person your desktop is likely highly organized.
You know where everything is and you have it correctly labeled.
Your background photo is clean and aesthetically pleasing, perhaps of a stately castle or a cruise ship.
If you’re more of an emotional thinker your desktop likely has all sorts of last minute falls there and things mixed together.
The background may be a dramatic picture of Mike Tyson punching somebody out or a touching image of baby belugas swimming in the ocean.
Reasoning your way through
Rationality and reason can go a long way and help guide you through tough decisions and situations.
But it’s important not to forget the place that emotion can also play.
If you’re more of a rational thinker that has many advantages and strengths.
It’s simply a matter of keeping in mind that those who think more emotionally are also valuable and insightful in their ideas and opinions as well!