DMin, Leadership and Global Perspectives: Crafting Ministry in an Interconnected World

We Are All Crazy Emotional People!

Written by: on January 17, 2015

“There are two ways of seeing: with the body and with the soul.

The body’s sight can sometimes forget, but the soul remembers forever.”

― Alexandre Dumas, The Count of Monte Cristo

            I am a romantic. I love love stories. I love movies that are based on true stories. Historical epics, life documentaries, tear jerkers I love them all. I read and write poetry. The best valentine, birthday, and anniversary cards are the ones that are blank inside leaving me more room to write my own love words. I compose scavenger hunts every Christmas giving clues to my kids in poetic form that guides them from clue to clue and then eventually to their big present! I love novels that take the time to develop deep social and psychological characters. The Count of Monte Cristo by Alexandre Dumas is one of my favorite novels. All this confirms to me what David Brooks writes in his book The Social Animal, that I am emotionally astute not a “girly-man.”

            Many try to rationalize the emotional side of themselves. “Real men don’t cry.” “A real lady does not let her emotions show.” Yet the caging of the inner emotional animal is much more difficult than we all have been told. Brooks reveals that within the realm of the unknown lurks a creature greater than any have thought before. One that far out weighs the conscious mind that we have been taught to believe is the one in control. We try to suppress our urges, control our inner fantasies, deal with that inner child that seems to always want his way. Yet, to be Vulcan (ok, that is just concerning when the auto spell checker automatically capitalizes Vulcan. Wow! Ok, sorry. “Squirrel!”) To be Vulcan according to Brooks would be to also eliminate the rational part of our brain. There is no separating our conscious mind from the emotional dramatic side of ourselves. This emotional side can actually improve our rational side. Brook states, “If you improve your emotional sensitivity, you will improve your powers of rational deduction because you’ll be able to make more subtle valuations.”[1] Spock is a fictitious character. Sorry, to break the news to you.

Throughout the book Brooks takes his fictitious characters Harold and Erica through the emotional, irrational, and at time rational roller costar of life with all of its confusing ups and downs and loopty-doos showing how much the unconscious social animal is more in control than we ever would imagine. How we fall in love, how we learn, and how we arrive at conclusions are more out of our control then we ever imagined. We are in a real sense out of control, but since we are all out of control we begin to recognize patterns in this crazy life that allow us to steer courses through the ebb and flow of emotional waves. As Brooks notes, “No piece of information is processed in isolation. Mental patterns are contagious, and everything is judged in comparison to something else.”[2] And our brains are masters of automatically trying to build patterns out of the multitude of data it is daily bombarded with.[3]

I love the kaleidoscope of learning that Brooks gives. True to his research he feed us in the manner our brains operate. A little here, a little there, continual reinforcement of the basics, returning to the familiar and then launching out in new waters, to return once again. It is the rhythm of expansion and integration.[4] He continued to give the familiar, perhaps a trip down memory lane of how high school clicks operate, or our first love, or how we were as adolescents going through puberty, and then broadens our perspective with authors, research, statistics that have direct implication to the familiar that was just recalled. Then he would do it all over again. Masterful! I loved it!!

So, I have learned that “decision making is an inherently emotional business”[5] and therefore if I continue to build my emotional side it will help me make better decisions. So as I leave this writing to enjoy the smell of my wife’s distinct lovely hair I am carving out new mental patters that will help me complete my dissertation by December 31 of this year! That is what my emotional heart is leading me to do. So I better follow my heart. As Blaise Pascal put it, “the heart, has reasons the head knows not of.”

[1] David Brooks, The Social Animal: The Hidden Sources of Love, Character, and Achievement (New York: Random House Trade Paperbacks, 2012), 380.

[2] Ibid., 181.

[3] Ibid., 89.

[4] Ibid., 87.

[5] Ibid., 17.

About the Author


Mitch Arbelaez

International Mission Mobilizers with Go To Nations Living and traveling the world from Jacksonville Florida

12 responses to “We Are All Crazy Emotional People!”

  1. mm John Woodward says:

    Mitch, you are truly no ‘girl-man,’ but poetry? I didn’t know! I am sure your wife appreciates that about you (as I know my wife appreciates my notes!). Your post actually sounds a lot like Brooks himself…it was a delight to read!
    You picked up on something I hadn’t noticed that was brilliant and insightful. “True to his research he feed us in the manner our brains operate. A little here, a little there, continual reinforcement of the basics, returning to the familiar and then launching out in new waters, to return once again.” Very well put and very helpful in explaining the entire style of this book. As I started to read, I wondered why he meandered from story to story, research result to another story, then back to the main characters. You are so right in understanding that he was “teaching us” in the way that we are wired to learn…to learn on a deeper level. It helped clarify a lot of this book for me! And, as I suggested in my post, this style of learning could have real applications to how we teach in the church — and especially how worship–that might reach us on a deeper level –“a little here, a little there, continual reinforcement of the basics”! Can’t you see this in what we do in church every week? Thanks for this great insight and enjoyable post!

    • Thanks John! I am sitll under the influence of codeine. Ha! Have been quite sick for the past week trying to kick this bronchitis and sinusitis infection. Thus my reasoning for my post being so late. Uggggh

      I really did like this book. It was right for my personality. I must have read 90% of chapter 2 The Map Meld out loud to Michelle as we cracked up laughing as we identified and understood with all the Brooks wrote. There was a lot in this book and I do plan on reading more of it when I have more time….say Feb of 2016! Ha! appreciate your comment. As always you are a great encouragement! Bless you in the new year!!!

  2. Miriam Mendez says:

    Mitch, I love your post! it is evident throughout your entire post that you thoroughly enjoyed this book! You made me laugh—(ok, that is just concerning when the auto spell checker automatically capitalizes Vulcan. Wow! Ok, sorry. “Squirrel!”)

    We often try to separate the emotional and rational, but as you well stated – this emotional side can actually improve our rational side. We tend to work so hard at suppressing our emotions when making decisions. Yet our emotions are there for a reason–if we pay attention to what is stirring in us it can actually help us in making better decisions. I like the quote from Blaise Pascal “the heart, has reasons the head knows not of.”

    Thanks, Mitch! May God continue to bring healing to your body. Feel better soon!

  3. Telile Fikru Badecha says:

    Hi Mitch! Beautiful post. You are so right when you say, “Many try to rationalize the emotional side of themselves. “Real men don’t cry.” “A real lady does not let her emotions show.” The problem is that in many cultures displaying one’s emotions is perceived as a weakness. But, Brooks clearly has shown us how suppressing one’s emotions is a huge problem both in personal life and relationships with others. Like you say, “There is no separating our conscious mind from the emotional dramatic side of ourselves. This emotional side can actually improve our rational side.” So, it is important we consciously plan ways to deepen our relationships, so that we do well in life. Thanks again for your insight!

  4. Richard Volzke says:

    I appreciate your post – I am reminded that we cannot separate the emotional and logical side of ourselves. Everyone has an emotional side to them, and like it or not, there is no way for an individual to totally turn off their emotions. I don’t easily display my emotions. Yet, admittedly, I make snap decisions that are based generally on my emotional wants and needs.

  5. Ashley says:


    Loved your examples — “Real men don’t cry.” “A real lady does not let her emotions show.” I grew up with “Children are meant to be seen and not heard.” To this day, I still feel like I should raise my hand in a meeting, even with my peers, before I speak.

    You are certainly no girly-man! You are Hercules! What I appreciate is that while you are clearly the leader and spiritual guide of your family, amazing dad, and doting husband, you are in touch with your emotional side — or your EQ! I imagine that enables you to reach out even more to the rest of the world, which is so relationally-centered and values openness and community. What do you think?

    Hope you’re feeling better, friend!

    • Ashely, I do hope I can come across and genuinely meet people where they are. My wife is very C in the DICS personalities. She is good with figures, data, details, and being able to keep a schedule. I am the romantic, poetic, and over all goofball in the relationship. I am the “High I” loving people and life. I have often felt guilty that I am not more rational and posses more qualities that the world says I need to be the type A driven, focused leader with that C personality that Michelle possess. Through books like The Social Animal and The failure of Nerve and others I am becoming more and more comfortable with the kind of emotional leader I am. 🙂

  6. Mitch,

    Your post has your cool fingerprints all over it! You are definitely who you say you are here, an emotional person, a person of depth. I like who you are, my friend.

    I used to be the person you are. But I have changed over time. As you know, I used to be a charismatic, but not today. Because of what I have seen, what I have experienced, and what I have reasoned, I now consider myself a non-charismatic. Please take note that I did not say “anti” charismatic. I went through that phase, but it isn’t healthy or profitable. I just have become less and less emotional as the years have gone on. I am no longer a “touchy-feely” person. I have mixed feelings about this. Sometimes I wonder who I am becoming. Sometimes I like who I am; sometimes I am confused by it all.

    My greatest hope is that I might become the person God would have me to be. The problem is that I don’t have a clue who that person is since it has been so long since I have felt a closeness to God. I still have faith and I believe I love the Lord and don’t doubt that there is a Creator. I guess I just don’t know how to discover who I am supposed to be. So, I am not a crazy, emotional person. Is that OK?

    • Wow Bill. I sense that emotional person in your writing. I would not worry so much as to how to become this or that, but rather how to love God and allow Him to simply work in your life. So how do you love God? Find him in your time as you read and reflect on his word. Be honest as you have been here. I believe faith in God is not just a destination but a life journey. You discover who you are as you continue to align your life with His word. He loves you regardless. And that love is from whence we get our strength and start our walk with Him. It is alright who you are. I love you and believe that you are still a crazy emotional person deep down inside. Ha! Love ya man!

  7. mm Stefania Tarasut says:

    This is great Mitch! One thought… how do you keep your emotions in check? I’m often overwhelmed by just how unstable my emotions are.

    • Self control is a big issue. I loved the marshmallow experiment that Brooks brings out. Those kids that were able to divert their attention to other things were able to better control their desire to eat the marshmallow. They later tracked the kids and discovered they had better SAT scores and better overall lives. While the kids who could not control their desires to eat the marshmallow had lower SAT scores later in life, more incidences of incarcerations and overall poorer lives. WOW! That was a big flag for me to deal with self-control. Note that the kids that kept themselves from eating the marshmallow did not focus on the marshmallow and the fact they must not eat it. Rather, they busied themselves with other things. I must learn that for my own issues. Keeping my emotions in check is more of allowing them to be vented properly. Journaling, allowing myself to cry, deep breathing, scripture, proper rest, and exercise have all proven to be helpful. When I don’t have those things in proper balance I begin to feel that I am trying to control my emotions and that is when I am getting into trouble. The romantic and passionate man also has strong emotions in other areas that are not always as welcomed as romance is. 🙂

  8. Michael Badriaki says:

    Loved your post Mitch. Greatly appreciated the candor with which you share how important it is for people and especially men to be open to the fact that emotions are crucial. Like you, on of the things I took away from Brooks book is that decision making involves emotions. That is a valuable piece of information to have in life’s ‘tool box’.

    Thank you

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