And How Does That Make You Think?
By: Quinton Ellis, M.S., LPC“I know right?”
Have you heard this fairly recent addition to our American lexicon? I can’t be the only one who’s noticed. It’s been around for a couple of years. It is apparently used by a listener to convey to the speaker with great enthusiasm that he or she has heard the speaker and most definitely agree with the speaker’s point of view. At least that’s what I’ve pieced together from context. The only population immune from ‘I know right’s’ lure appear to be our senior citizens. And seniors- it had better stay that way.
Where did it come from, this phrase? And how does it seduce so many with such ease? I bring it up because every time I hear it, I have to consider it in the same manner that I consider another three words
“I feel that…”
I feel that people saying I feel that are, in the vast majority of cases, committing an error that I’m just going to call faulty think/feel recognition. And I also feel that this error is making people even more confused than normal about what’s going on in their heads (thinking) versus what’s going on in their hearts (feeling). This, in turn, leads to problems because humans have different remedies for head and heart-sicknesses.
I’m going to spare you the thirteen paragraphs I just deleted about human possession of a rational mind and how this sets us apart from all other living creatures. Here’s the short version: Animals may well have feelings, but they don’t know they have feelings. They can’t decipher the meaning of their feelings; they can only act in response to them. My concern for humans is that many of us, and especially our kids, follow the same model. Our emotions determine our behavior. We have come to a point where we place more importance in our ability to feel rather than our ability to have rational thoughts.
Why? Well, I’m sure some therapist was responsible for all this, so, sorry about that. But more importantly, I think that we became cozy with the idea because we sensed that it lifted a great burden off our shoulders. We feel what we feel. We really can’t be held responsible for our emotions, can we? (At least not in the same way we’re held responsible for our thoughts) And emotions are so pure, so authentic that they can’t or shouldn’t be rebutted, not if we care about ourselves and each other. How can you ever challenge my point of view if I put you in a position from the outset in which you must invalidate my feelings by doing so? And I all I have to say is ‘I feel that…’.You can imagine the ramifications for this (ironically enough) rationalization. Behavioral, legal, philosophical, political, and religious institutions would all be fundamentally altered.
But I just want people to stop saying I feel that. I’d like to know what you think, please. I want to know what you think about the things that you feel. Emotions are wonderful and do an excellent job of alerting us to our problems, but they are the fire alarm, not the fire fighters. Emotions require verification through rational thought processes; otherwise, they are glorified instincts that have no actual meaning because we fail to assign them any. Without meaning derived from thought, the alarms can scream all they want, but the fire will continue to burn. And here’s proof: You are dealing with a person diagnosed with schizophrenia who is also suffering from depression. Which problem should the doctor treat first?
That’s what makes thinking so important. If we can’t think rationally, or worse, choose not to, we fail in our responsibility to ourselves and others to offer the finished product that is our true personality.
I know right?
Quinton is a Licensed Professional Counselor at Edmond Family Counseling and can be reached at 405-341-3554.