29 August 2012

Trust Your Feelings?


Time for some really deep questions... Are we, as human beings, designed with some sort of inbuilt defence mechanism to protect us? Should we therefore follow our feelings, our instincts?

I've been giving this question some serious thought during the last month, during my monthly break from blogging.

You see, over the past few decades it seems to me that it's become socially acceptable to follow your feelings. It assumes that something deep within you will steer you right. If you feel strongly about something, it has to have some meaning. It's also become part of our popular culture - Luke Skywalker is encouraged to "trust his feelings" in the original Star Wars film (1977, pictured above). However, how logical - and therefore, how safe - is it to let your feelings control your behaviour?

Some clarity first - when I talk about "feelings", I'm making a clear distinction between emotion and intuition. Blindly following your emotions is clearly not a good idea. If we continue our comparison with the Star Wars movies, you will recall that characters are warned that emotions can lead you to the Dark Side. I can't argue with that in the real world, either!

The problem with feelings is having a sound base to start from. If our thoughts are based on incorrect information or on false assumptions, then consequently any feelings associated with these thoughts are bound to be equally distorted—and hardly to be trusted. For example, if you truly believe you are in a "hopeless" situation, the subsequent feelings of despair that you'll experience could well be overwhelming. On the other hand, you might truly believe that you can have anything you ever wanted - that "the world is your oyster" - so it's clear that you will probably feel unfairly treated the first time that anyone says 'no' to you.

Both of these situations are based on a false assumption - therefore, any consequent feelings cannot be reasonably justified. Hence, we should always try to seek the truth first. However painful that truth may be.

More later... as I unpack this further.

Jeremiah 17:9 (NIV)
The heart is deceitful above all things and beyond cure. Who can understand it?

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