5 Signs You’re an Irrational Person

Being an irrational person can have any number of effects on you personally. Although irrational behaviors may satisfy our primal natures, it rarely does any good for our interpersonal relationships or status within our social structures.

There is an assumption that as a species, we generally behave rationally. This isn’t always the case. Emotions are the general basis for our externally expressed actions. We are faced with a given stimulus, our endocrine system reacts, and depending on our ability to regulate our emotions, we behave either rationally or irrationally. Since behavior is emotion based, without a degree of control or regulation over our emotions, we can’t behave rationally.

This is why certain irrational behaviors, though common or maybe socially acceptable in certain situations, are still irrational.

  • You overreact in given situations
  • You become jealous or angry, even when you feel justified
  • You constantly try to justify your behaviors
  • You ignore or dismiss others
  • You behave in a way that is not consistent with your internal mores.

Overreaction vs. Rational action

Let’s say you’re at the park with your kids. One of the other kids in the playground starts picking on your child. You run over, grab the bully by his arm and give the child a piece of your very adult mind.

Although your anger in a situation like this might be reasonable, grabbing a child by their arm- especially a child who is not your child- is not only abusive, but irrational. Never mind the negative connotation or judgement here. It’s irrational because it wouldn’t serve your purpose in a meaningful way. There is no positive lesson to be learned by either child in this situation, plus you may find yourself in jail. Also, the parents of the bully will likely follow suit and overreact as well.

Jealousy and Anger

These two emotions are not only irrational when felt, but also when expressed. You may, at times, feel justified in feelings of jealousy or anger, but they’re irrational because they serve no purpose other than to make the person expressing them look like some kind of crazy person.

For example: Your sibling is getting married. Let’s go with the female roles in this situation. She asks her friend rather than you, her sister, to walk as her MOH (maid/matron of honor). You find yourself angry at your sister, and jealous of her friend, for you being relegated to bridesmaid rather than honored as the MOH.

No matter the case, when you take judgement out of it, the bride’s choice stands. Feeling jealous is irrational because it will only serve to alienate you from your sister in this particular situation.

Justifying your behaviors and emotions

As a species, because we are capable of developing our own opinions on matters, and making our own choices, we don’t like those opinions and choices to be put into question. When our choices and opinions are questioned, we feel insulted or less than. So, rather than address why our choices, feelings, or opinions may be wrong, and adjust according to provided evidence, we tend to justify, rationalize, or ignore.

Let’s revisit the wedding scenario. As the bride’s sister you feel the sting of jealousy, anger, and resentment. Irrationally, you justify your jealousy by telling yourself that you’re the bride’s sister so you should be the MOH rather than rationally detaching from the situation and looking at the facts objectively.

Intense jealousy and anger in this situation may be easily justified, but it’s neither rational nor reasonable. There may be a million reasons for the bride’s choice. Maybe this best friend serves in the fire department with her, and at one point saved her life. Perhaps she’s simply closer to this friend than she is to you as her sister.

You ignore or dismiss others

Again, in the wedding scenario, in justifying your feelings of jealousy, anger, or resentment, you dismiss the obvious importance this friend has to the bride (your sister) by dismissing both your sister’s ability to make decisions, and her friend’s status in your sister’s life.

When we allow ourselves to become irrational it becomes very easy to remain self-centered rather than allow for the complexity of a situation, the intelligence and importance of others, and accept our place within a certain social structure.

Your internal mores and external behavior patterns don’t match

When we’re faced with having to do something that we disagree with, we may find ourselves in a state of cognitive dissonance to justify actions that are out of line with our internal value structure. This causes a schism in rational thought and behavior patterns because we are behaving in an irrational way.

For example: You love spiders. Maybe you don’t actually, but in this case you do. Your boss comes running out of her office screaming and yelling because there is monster sized spider on the outside of her office window. The office is at ground level, and just outside of her office is a bit of landscaping.

You go out to see that the spider is quite large, and its body seems to be vibrating. Upon closer inspection you realize that the spider is a female carrying a large sack of baby spiders.

She orders you to stomp on, spray, or otherwise kill the giant spider. You know that as soon as anyone touches this spider, thousands of sand grain sized spiders will scatter. You attempt to tell her this, but she won’t listen.

Against your better instincts, you attempt to catch the spider in a jar so that, at the very least, the babies don’t scatter.

In this case, your boss asked you to act in a way that goes against your instincts.

Irrational behavior is not always negative behavior. As in the case with the spiders, your attempt to calm your boss by doing as she’s asked is admirable even though she ends up spending a week out of her office while it’s fumigated from the thousands of baby spiders that did exactly as you thought they would.

We tend to believe that we think and act rationally more often than irrationally. This generally isn’t the case. It’s very difficult to not feel the sting of jealousy or resentment, justify our feelings, and then act accordingly. These tendencies become natural over time, but they don’t have to be so. Our actions are emotionally based, so without regulating or learning to control our emotions, we tend to become irrational people, at least some of the time.

It’s human nature.

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