Heart Over Head or Head Over Heart? What It Means to Be Emotionally Responsible When It Feels Impossible

HeadHeartby Monique Halley

If you’ve been in love, at some point you’ve had to make a decision and you didn’t know if you should go with the heart or the head. It can be confusing I’ve been there myself. There’s good reason to follow both. You can take the head approach  because it’s more logical and can break down the most complex thing to make sense. Yet, your thoughts can become so overwhelming it keeps you mentally stuck. Equally you can go with the heart, it’s connected to how you feel and who doesn’t want to go with what “feels” good. But your feelings can also be uncertain and misguided. The ideal approach would be to find a balance between the two; but it’s not so easy to do.

In the past week, I read about three sad and unfortunate stories related to love & relationships and it’s very disheartened to say the least. When our emotions are the only tool we use to make a decision it doesn’t always end well.

Here’s a condensed version of the stories:

  1. A husband in Georgia hired a hitman to kill his wife. Mentions of marital problems, it was stated that the wife was planning to leave.
  2. A celebrity couple was in the news for a murder suicide incident. Allegedly a husband believed his wife was cheating on him, so he took her life then killed himself.
  3. Another celebrity couple was in the news because the boyfriend called the police after his girlfriend threatened to kill herself  just hours after the two had an argument or supposedly had broken up…

After processing what I read and trying to make sense of it, I had to assumed that they felt their way through their decision when they took their spouses life. Then I got upset and said out loud; the audacity of them to believe that they had the right to do something so awful.  What would possess them?  In regards to the attempted suicide situation, I thought…why would she gave her boyfriend so much power over her that she was willing to take her life and where is her sense of individuality? I wasn’t coming from a space of judgement but more so understanding, in order to find a solution. These stories confirms my strong belief in taking personal responsibility for your emotions and maintaining your individuality in relationships.

Emotional Responsibility

When we are lead by our heart, it’s really about how we feel. Our emotions influences how we behave and when we don’t have the tools to practice emotional wellness our hurt feelings turns into negative behaviors. I can’t even imagine what was going through the minds of the husbands who committed the crimes. I just wondered what shifts could have been made for them to go from heart to head and in order for them to take personal responsibility for their emotions. In relationships we tend to have this emotional dependency on each other. Some are healthy and some are not.

Emotional dependency is when someone allows others (like a significant other) to affect their feelings and emotions, and depends on them for happiness, etc. This is unhealthy and can negatively impact self-esteem. This is when you have to take personal responsibility for your own emotions.

Side bar: When I taught life skills to young adults in group homes, they dealt with a lot of anger issues and we work on building communication skills all the time. When communicated your feelings it’s more effective to use “I” statement. For example, you could say…”

I feel upset (feelings) when you raise your voice at me (behavior) because I don’t want to be in a relationship where yelling is the norm.

When use “you” statements it can make the other person more defensive and “I” statement allows you to accept responsibility and takes you out of victim mode.

An alternative to emotional dependency is to have a balance of interdependence. If you’re emotionally dependent to the extent that you can’t make decisions or that it’s affecting your life it’s time to find that balance between heart and head.

Here are a few tips you can implement to do so:

  • realize that you control yourself, including your feelings, emotions and actions. Sometimes there are uncontrollable events in life, but you need to realize what you can control. Don’t let someone else determine how your life will turn out.
  • Recognize your emotional needs and don’t depend on one person. Work on building a variety of friendships and even talk to a therapist or psychologist.
  • Utilize your emotions as a guiding system. When you’re experiencing a negative emotion, it’s alerting you to realize that you want to experience something better. It’s up to you to figure out what steps you need to take to create a better feeling.

Heart over head led the decision of the young lady that attempted to take her life. What I also believe could have triggered that thought of wanting to kill herself was a lack of individuality. I have a confession, this particular situation involves the couple from a reality tv show that I watch, so I saw parts of their relationship play out. In one incident, I watched as the young lady allowed her boyfriend to tell her to fight another female and without hesitation she said…”you want me to” he said “yes” and off she went in attack mode.

I know from experience how one can completely lose themselves in a romantic relationship. Specifically in the way your significant other goes about life. You do the things he likes to do, you take on the same thought process he has, you hang out with his friends, you watch the shows he watch, you go to the places he likes etc…you get lost in his world and eventually you disappear.  When you can’t maintain your sense of self, you have given your power away. You are giving off the message that the life you have established before he came along is not important to you, it also says that you place your man and relationship above your needs. You become so vulnerable and dependent on the other person that your

thoughts, feelings and actions become more reactive instead of proactive.

Because you don’t have your own identity anymore, the thought of not being a part of his world creates this empty feeling and all the negative emotions attached…fear of being alone, feeling hurt, sad, angry, disappointed etc… takes you down a dangerous path.

There is a way to reclaim your personal power and that’s by maintaining your individuality.

Here are several ways you can do this:

  • Stick to your schedule. Your daily routine gives your life structure and stability.
  • Take time for yourself and practice self-care.
  • Stay connected to family, friends and continue your social life because your partner can’t satisfy your every need.
  • Do not allow yourself to become isolated, it makes it real easy to become emotionally dependent on your partner and get lost.

The safest way to know what approach (heart or head) to use as your guide to making a decision is to ask yourself, can you deal with the consequences, whether good or bad.

As a start, I truly believe if we can take more responsibility for our emotions, we can avoid  a lot of the dysfunction we see show up in relationships. We can also be better to and for each other when we maintain a strong sense of self.

It’s my hope that we can all start being more conscious of the people we invite into our lives. But most importantly, develop a more self-loving and self-accepting relationship with ourselves first.  There are tools, strategies and practical steps available to create positive changes in relationships. That’s why I will always do my part in helping women create better relationships through seeking clarity and reclaiming missing parts of themselves.

Monique is the founder of Simply Bliss, a personal development company for women, with a focus on relationship clarity. Sessions are offered on-line & in-person for women who want to release unhealthy relationships, heal from broken ones and learn to love again. Get immediate access to a free relationship impact worksheet. Sign-up here:.http://bit.ly/relationshipclaritycoachingsignup

Learn more about Monique’s work at: http://www.radicalselfie.com/reclaim/

Connected with Monique at her favorite spot to be social:  instagram.com/simplyblissliving

[info_box type=”alert_box”]Caring for yourself including takes care of your finances.  I encourage all ladies who are serious about self-care to go on The Happy Finances Challenge. In 42 days you can learn to make money decisions that will lead to long-term financial happiness. [/info_box]

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