Our feelings are one of the most spontaneous parts of our mind and behavior. One minute we feel one way, and the next hour we feel the opposite. It is also hard to estimate the way we might feel about any particular situation or circumstance, and it is even more difficult to predict how we might feel on any given day. Feelings can be fickle, unstable, and unreliable, but may also be useful if we know how to properly interact with them in positive ways.
We often think that we have our feelings and emotions under control, that we have it figured out and can contain our attitudes. Sometimes this is possible, but other times it is not.
Feelings are powerful emotions. As with anything having such power in our lives, it is important to understand what these terms mean and how they affect us. A feeling is an emotional state or reaction; while an emotion is a natural instinctive state of mind deriving from one’s circumstances, mood, or relationships with others.
On the surface, feelings and emotions may appear to be the same. However, while they are similar, they are also different. A feeling is much more fluid and unpredictable than an emotion. We can feel a certain way at any time, without any cause or reason. When we experience emotion, we have a particular situation or circumstance in our life that is directly connected to our feelings. Stressful situations or challenging relationships produce emotional states of mind, as they should.
The way we approach the management of our feelings and emotions is important. We have been taught many untrue things about our feelings, that are based on the experiences of others, or we have embraced negative thinking and feeling habits of our own.
Let’s UNLEARN THE MYTHS we have accepted regarding our feelings and emotions, and how they connect to our thoughts:
MYTH #1: YOU CAN CONTROL YOUR FEELINGS.
Feelings occur frequently and often without cause or reason. How often have you felt a certain way and could not explain why? Or, how many times have you mentally tried to change your current feeling and simply could not? Your feelings are not always linked to any particular situation or event in your life. Sometimes you just wake up in a funk. Other times you may have an unexpected mood swing. You cannot control your feelings, but we will get into more details about how your feelings should not control you either.
MYTH #2: YOUR FEELINGS HAVE COMPLETE POWER OVER YOUR LIFE.
Yes, our feelings are a dominant force in life. Without our feelings and emotions, we would be very shallow creatures. Our feelings can be good signposts that alert us to take better care of ourselves, when we are overtired, stressed, or feeling overwhelmed. However, our feelings do not have complete control over our lives, and if we live as if we should “feel” a certain way at all times, we will be very disappointed. For example, if you believe that you have to feel happy all the time to live a good and productive life, you are mistaken. If you give too much credit to your feelings, you will not reach the success, happiness, and goals you have in life.
MYTH #3: YOU SHOULD IGNORE YOUR FEELINGS.
Although our feelings have power and presence in our lives, ignoring them is risky. We will face situations where we do need to overlook a mood swing, or a random feeling of frustration, but generally, it is not wise to simply practice ignoring your feelings on a regular basis. Our feelings can help us to slow down and process details in our lives. We may be facing some changes and need to take time to formulate our plan of action. Feelings of anxiety, unease, or confusion can help us to pace ourselves and avoid hasty decisions. If we get in the habit of ignoring our feelings, we may miss these cues.
MYTH #4: THERE IS NO WAY TO CHANGE HOW YOU FEEL ABOUT THINGS OR PEOPLE IN YOUR LIFE.
This is a common myth. While our feelings can be unpredictable and even unexplainable at times, we can change the way we think and feel about things and people in our lives. Sometimes this involves
verbal expression of our concerns, a change in scenery to help produce some positive feelings and thoughts, compassion and understanding about people, and/or general awareness that our feelings are not always accurate so that we do not place too much emphasis on them all the time. We can change the way we feel about people and things if we choose to, but it will have to be backed up with intentional effort and positive thinkings and behaving.
MYTH #5: YOUR ACTIONS HAVE TO LINE UP WITH HOW YOU ARE FEELING.
If we live our life according to how we feel, we are not going to get far. There are going to be many instances where we just have to get things done, despite how we feel about it. How many times do you go to work even when you don’t feel like it? What about dealing with people or situations when you don’t want to? These are just two examples of the countless times that we will have to press beyond our current feelings. Our actions do not have to line up with how we are feeling, and in fact, most of the time, our feelings may be in the opposite direction of what we need or want to do or accomplish.
Although we are not always in control of our feelings, we can learn how to approach them with a positive mindset, and we can create a healthy strategy for working through our feelings:
- First, we have to acknowledge that our current feelings and emotions will pass. Allow negative feelings to have their space, and then let them go. Take some deep breaths, go for a walk, take a nap, write them down and throw them away, talk to someone you trust, or change your current activity. Before you know it, your feelings will shift and you will be experiencing the next feeling. Do not stay stuck on one feeling.
- Then, we have to be in tune with the way we are thinking when we feel a certain way. We cannot become pacifiers to our feelings. Even though we may feel sad or upset does not give us permission to think negatively and dwell on our feelings. We do have power and authority over our thought life, and this power means recognizing that our feelings do not have to rule us, just as our thoughts should not either.
- Finally, we need to remember that our actions are made up of our emotions and thoughts. Try not to act on major life changes or events when you are experiencing negative feelings or emotions. Yes, this is not always possible, but do try to allow the feelings to pass before making any permanent choices. Then you can take the time to align your emotions and thoughts into positive actions. Most of the things we think are “urgent” issues can wait a little while before we move forward. If you feel pressure, this should be a signal to slow down.
Remember, the more that you practice positive thinking, the easier it becomes to be patience and allow challenging feelings to pass.
You can discover new ways to be more intentional about your thought life and much more peace will follow. Take time to educate yourself on how your thoughts, emotions, and actions are connected. Do not become a victim to your feelings or thoughts.
Check out these thoughtsrealigned articles for some additional motivation and suggestions to begin retraining your mind:
USE THE BACK BURNERS: WAYS TO MANAGE AND PRIORITIZE OUR THOUGHTS
TUNE OUT THE NOISE: REMAIN POSITIVE DESPITE NEGATIVITY AROUND YOU