Embracing Irrationality in Communication

In personal relationships, miscommunication is rife. People who communicate successfully (whatever that means) form the foundation of successful marriages and partnerships, we are told. We are also instructed to communicate. Given how obvious it is that communication is important, why are you unable to implement it? People are sensible creatures! What makes you so irrational, then?

It’s easy. Humans are only partially reasonable beings.

No matter how “major” your rational brain labels a traumatic event, your Limbic System records it as an emotional memory as it occurs. Your emotional memories are not transmitted to the cortical regions of the brain or fully digested. Rather, the Limbic System is where they are kept.

What does this mean, then? It implies that these raw emotions and recollections are not yet logical. Significant memories like these have the potential to make you emotionally reactive and—more significantly for your relationships—to make interpersonal communication extremely difficult for you. How can you tell when you’ve entered your brain’s Limbic region? Any time you experience a powerful emotional reaction, you are interacting with data that is kept in the Limbic System. Information ceases to be emotionally stimulating as it enters the cortical regions of your brain.

Since it is impossible to be completely rational, what constitutes effective communication? It is useless to try to communicate in a completely logical manner, especially when it comes to intimate relationships. However, there are a few things you can do to improve the way you communicate with your loved ones and relationship.

1. Being irrational is not abnormal

Accept that emotional reactivity and irrationality is natural, for you and others. When it comes right down to it, the knowledge that you aren’t going insane can be very powerful. Feeling abnormal or pathological about your experience might cause low self-esteem and feelings of loneliness.

2. Identify things that make you emotionally reactive

Recognize the situations in your life that cause you to react emotionally. It’s critical to observe how you react and learn what triggers powerful emotional reactions in you. Maybe it’s the judgments of other parents. You may experience emotional reactions when your partner promises to take out the garbage but then forgets. Never forget that criticizing yourself for your emotional reactions is the least constructive thing you can do. Without passing judgment, notice your emotional reaction and let it pass past you like a passing rainstorm.

3. Be compassionate and understanding

Show others sympathy since you know that they are reacting emotionally. Making a rational argument is quite impossible for someone who is experiencing emotional response. The Limbic System will focus all of a person’s attention on the visceral trauma experience, leaving the cerebral areas with little room for rational thought. It’s crucial to slow down and give the other person the benefit of the doubt when you witness this. As someone who is likewise triggered by memories from the past that are stored in your own Limbic System, show empathy and understanding. These compassionate and understanding moments can serve as powerful pillars for a relationship that is more loving and trusting.

4. Excuse yourself when you feel triggered

Establish boundaries for yourself so you can give yourself a pass when something triggers you. It’s possible that your partner is a safe person who you can trigger. Maybe your partner’s ex or your in-laws aren’t as safe, though. Because of this, it’s critical to recognize your triggers and figure out how to find a way to let yourself vent in a dangerous situation. Perhaps you give yourself permission to use the restroom as an excuse so that you have time to let the response fully process through you. Additionally, keep in mind that it will take less time for those reaction moments to pass the more often you practice being attentively aware of your encounters with your triggers.

5. Talk to your partner about your irrational behavior

Discuss your triggers with your partner and accept that this is an unreasonable part of you that results from unresolved traumas. The term “irrational” is only derogatory if you allow it to be. Many of your sentiments of being misinterpreted or perplexed can be eliminated by owning up to your unreasonable experiences and sharing these ideas with your partner. Our experience is illogical in large part. Your partner needs to respect and acknowledge the parts of you that are not logical thinkers and communicators if they are to comprehend you as a person. They also have to acknowledge that they are not entirely logical beings.

6. Ask for assistance

It is suggested that you get assistance from a certified mental health specialist if prior memories or emotional anguish are causing you substantial distress. The most effective methods for gaining access to information about the Limbic System include Mindfulness-Based Therapies, Neurofeedback, and EMDR. It might be quite difficult for regular talk therapy to access memories and emotions that are stored in the Limbic System. This is mostly due to the fact that talk therapy makes an effort to use the Pre-Frontal Cortex to access the Limbic System. Promoting healthy processing of traumatic past experiences requires the use of the therapies mentioned above, which have been shown to effectively and efficiently calm an overactive Limbic System.

When you and your partner dispute, it’s possible to feel misinterpreted. You may experience extreme feelings of confusion and isolation if you believe that you have acted irrationally. When paired with appropriate language and nonjudgmental intents, a committed partnership makes a great setting for interactive Limbic healing. We can start to go above terms like “irrational” and “illogical” and toward a realm of shared non-verbal emotional experience by expressing those experiences that are beyond words.