1. Buddhist

The Limits of Rational Thought

I am a great believer in the power of rational thought, which is to say thought that is free of the ego-mind’s intervention.  But I have learned that when addressing another’s feelings and perceptions, cravings and attachments, fear and anxiety, rational thought is virtually useless.  Worse, it’s actually counterproductive because the person’s ego-mind reacts with such vehemence to rational thought, that it makes the situation even more volatile, increasing the person’s suffering.

There a time and a place for rational discussion; when someone is in a rational, quieted space.  It is not when you are faced with someone who is having an emotional reaction to something, or is even just expressing these emotions and so you come across as questioning their judgment or feelings, let alone if they are experiencing a meltdown or psychic attack.

So how do you help someone who is suffering in this way.  You simply be there for that person, be a calm, steady, reassuring force.  That will not be acknowledged, you may even be attacked for not “helping,” but your presence nevertheless will make a difference while the person is in the maelstrom.

This is not easy.  It is very difficult to witness someone you care about suffering so acutely and knowing that there is almost nothing you can do to help the person at that moment.  Especially since you know exactly what you think the person needs to hear … the real facts, rational thinking.  That may be true, but not at that moment.

Also, be aware that in most cases, the person is well aware of the real facts and the rational thought to be applied.  It’s just that when they are subjected to the ego-mind’s attack, they are lost and carried away by the force of those emotions.  But when they are through with the attack and are back to their rational self, they will know.  And if not, that is when you can share with them your thinking about the matter.

But beware.  Make sure that your rational thought is indeed rational, free of your ego-mind’s intervention.  And make sure that when you think your words will help, you are looking at it from the person’s perspective, understanding his needs.  It is not unusual for us to think we know what someone needs or what would be in their best interest and be totally wrong, because we are thinking of what we would need if that person were us, not what that person needs given his background, who he is

Proceed with humility.

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