Making A Sound Choice

Emotions, Logic, or Both
By Erica Marriaga, MSW, LCSW
Photo by Kyle Glenn from Pexels

Is decision-making hard for you?

If I were to ask you, plain and simple, would you rather order food delivery from grubhub/doordash or the actual restaurant for dinner tonight, could you give me a quick answer?

You might be wondering what in the world I am talking about and why this matters. Are you hooked to find out more? 

Since we’re on the subject, when you get right down to it, is that decision really plain and simple? Our brains are programmed in different ways. You might notice there are times when you make decisions based on emotions you are feeling. Other times, you might rely on science, research, and facts to come up with a solution. What you want is to allow for emotions to be validated and be pragmatic at the same time.

Our emotions might be telling us to use grubhub/doordash because there is a greater chance our food will arrive earlier. You can consider this the emotion mind.

Your logical and factual ideas might tell you that ordering from the restaurant might be cheaper — that’s the reasonable mind.  The mixture of our emotional response and our logical response can help lead us to making the best decision fit for your needs.

The most helpful decision includes both what we are feeling and what we are logically thinking, resulting in a wise mind. A wise mind decision might be to order grubhub because it delivers faster and you are hungry, also keeping in mind that you might want to consider a budget since it is more expensive.

Three different states of mind and how they make decisions

Marsha Linehan, PhD, developed the therapy modality, Dialectical Behavioral Therapy.  Research suggests that being more aware and understanding the function of our emotions and cognitions can help to improve our well-being.


Emotion Mind

  • Impulsive; acts on emotions without thinking about consequences
  • May lead to negative behaviors
  • May be irrational
  • Emotions are in control

Reasonable Mind

  • Thinking about the facts
  • Places the most value on data and research over emotions
  • Might be considered cold and dismissive of others’ needs

Wise Mind

  • Adds knowledge and logic to emotional experiences
  • Incorporates both emotions and factual evidence
  • This is your inner wisdom
If you were in a candy factory, how would you decide what to eat?

Let me set the scene for you: 

You have been selected to participate in a Charlie and the Chocolate factory game. There is an abundance of candy around you as well as other sweet treats and goodies. You have the opportunity to eat candy as you take the tour, and you are also asked to choose several different candy items to take home. You must decide how you will ration the candy.

Below, there is a guide to help us along. 

Photo by


My emotion mind would be excited, anxious, overwhelmed, and in the moment, might lead to eating excessive amounts of candy.  Because I am thinking about how much I love candy, I am not considering any negative aspects.

My reasonable mind is focused on the amount of calories in the candy, factual evidence that if I ingest too much candy, I might become physically sick. I am identifying pros/cons of bringing candy home versus eating candy now.

My wise mind is helping me to identify how I can allow certain emotions to be validated while also coming up with factual evidence.  My wise mind decision would involve allowing myself to have 2 pieces of candy while I am there.  I will also bring a bag of candy home to share with my loved ones. I can divide the candy up and set it aside so I do not consume enough to become  sick.

What would the different states of mind look like for you?  Remember, everybody’s wise mind is different!  What might work for you might not work for me!

Reach Out to a Counselor to Help with Promoting Well-Being

As always, if you find yourself struggling in these areas, do not hesitate to reach out for help. A licensed therapist or counselor can help empower you to be your best self! 


Erica Marriaga is a proud fur-mama of her one-eyed rescue dog, Toby. She loves to spend time with her husband and bond with her family, nieces, and nephews. Erica is passionate and enthusiastic about her role as a therapist.  EWC has locations in Manalapan and Shrewsbury, NJ, and accepts a variety of insurances.

Check out Erica’s professional bio here!

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