Chuck’s Place: Thinking, Feeling, Relationship

Thinking… Feeling…
– Photo by Jan Ketchel

Thinking and feeling are two diametrically opposed psychological functions. Although they share a judging characteristic in common their methods of assessment are very different.

Thinking is an analytic process that breaks down what it perceives into component parts which it then logically compiles to explain why things happen as they do in reality or how to make specific things happen in reality. Thinking freezes reality, like taking a picture, and then fragments this static image into component parts. Thinking defines itself as capturing objective reality and rendering it knowable through its abstract vocabulary of thoughts.

Feeling, in contrast, assesses reality based on a subjective energetic reaction that registers in the body with an emotional affect defined as feeling. Thus feeling would look at an object in the world and decide if it had value based on the feeling it evoked when perceived through the senses. Whereas a thinking person might be drawn to purchase a picture based on the success of the artist and the quality of the craftsmanship, a feeling person might reject the painting because it elicited a feeling of boredom or distress. “How could I possibly have such a depressing painting in my home. I don’t care what it’s worth, it’s worthless to me!”

Feeling, in contrast to thinking, stays connected to the dynamic whole of a person or a scene. In order to make its assessments it needs access to a fluid interconnectedness with another being. In fact this allows feeling to continually refine its assessments, as it may change its feelings about someone or something as it experiences them more fully in different situations.

In the area of assessing human relationship, thinking and feeling, as might be expected, approach things very differently. Thinking might determine that a potential partner makes sense if they share similar interests, educational backgrounds and hold compatible goals. In contrast, feeling might value a more instinctive reaction of attraction to a potential partner to determine the worthiness of pursuit. Clearly, both functions have their legitimate place in such a significant enterprise as pursuing a relationship.

Many a relationship has failed because a purely instinctive basis does not offer enough to meet the requirements of a fully committed relationship. On the other hand, a purely logical choice of partner that adds up fully on paper but lacks an instinctive connection is destined for serious trouble.

Clearly, thinking and feeling both have their valid contributions in deciding upon a serious commitment in relationship. Sometimes it’s wise to table the feeling and listen to the mind, sometimes it’s wise to stop thinking and follow the program of the feeling.

Though inherently oppositional in nature and function both thinking and feeling have a valid place in decisions of relationship and ought each to be consulted and given their due. Thus with Descartes we might agree: I think, therefore I am, but add: I feel, therefore I am alive!

Thinking and feeling,


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