It’s so easy to fall into the trap of believing that feelings contain the secrets of your life. The truth is feelings are often exaggerated, deceitful, deceptive, defensive,indulgent, tricky, self-promoting and above all, manipulative. Feelings can drag you around like a Neanderthal man. Feelings are not the end-all or be-all. Feelings need to be reigned in, controlled, and looked at suspiciously. You may be curious as to what is to be trusted if feelings are suspect? Feelings and thinking together at the same time is crucial.
Feelings can convince you: It’s OK to steal because it’s exciting, that you only pushed your partner away not really hurting them, that your fear is really supposed to be in charge so you never drive anywhere outside of your comfort zone, that your mother is completely unreasonable, that it’s OK to cheat just on this test, that lying to your best friend is alright, or that quitting right now is all that matters. Feelings offer lots of good things, it’s just so easy to twist them up.
Feelings make it effortless to fly from one extreme to another (i.e. I’m so awful vs. I’m so great). This is especially true in adolescence (13-25). Flopping around like a fish is what I call 1 and 10-ing it. The secret to life is in 4,5,6. Use your thoughts to get you there. Thinking helps you to sort out, “am I being intuitive or paranoid”? Feelings are confusing and thinking helps to define them more accurately.
It’s so easy to indulge mad, sad and scared feelings. Slow down the quick reactions that get all of us into trouble. Be thoughtful about why you are afraid, angry, or miserable. Go write in a notebook instead of dumping on someone you love. Use your thinking to respond instead of react. It’s a shame this can’t be a subject taught in high school so students could learn earlier that drama is boring and unsubstantial. Learn the ability to respond more authentically in relationships and they will be so much more satisfying. Remember, the intensity of your feelings has nothing to do with defining reality. Reality is always in between two people.