The Truth about Feelings

 

images-1Have you ever heard the words, “You shouldn’t feel that way?” Do you sometimes feel guilty about your feelings? Life is made up of thoughts, feelings and actions. We know the right way to think (rationally) and the correct way to act (lovingly). But can we know the right way to feel? 

The Amoral Nature of Feelings

We can’t know the right way to feel because there is no such thing as a right or wrong feeling. We do not choose our feelings so they have no moral quality. Emotions happen automatically – much like physical feelings.

Touching a hot stove triggers pain. God created us with nerve endings to get our attention when we touch something hot enough to burn our skin. We’re wonderfully made (Psm 139:14)!

It makes no sense to judge, criticize or ignore the pain that provides critical information and it doesn’t help to hide it from others. The best response to a physical sensation of pain is to acknowledge what we feel, find the cause and make needed changes. The same goes for emotions

Emotions exist to provide information about the state of our lives the same way “idiot lights” provide information about the state of a car. We don’t judge, criticize or ignore dashboard lights (hopefully). We should not judge, criticize or ignore our feelings.

Melissa’s Story

Melissa did judge her feelings. She felt guilty about resenting the family members who continually took advantage of her. They pressed her to babysit way too often and insisted that she host all family gatherings. Melissa loved her family and accommodated their demands to keep everyone happy.

Melissa’s choices left her unhappy. She felt resentment towards her presumptive family and guilty about her negative feelings. She said “I think I’m not a nice person.”  Melissa tried to push her negative feelings away but they persisted so she reached out for help.

In counseling Melissa learned to accept her feelings and focus instead on discovering their cause. She came to see how the lack of balance in her family relationships threatened both her mental health and the viability of relationships she valued.

Her resentment faded when she adopted new ways of thinking and acting. Believing that truth would bring freedom and please God (Eph 4:15) Melissa determined to share her true feelings and set boundaries for the imposing relatives.

You guessed right if you think the truth session didn’t go easily. The relatives didn’t want  change. They pushed back with anger and tears but Melissa stood firm. That enabled her family to move forward in a healthy and balanced way. The feelings Melissa tried to run from served her well in the end.

Doesn’t the Bible Condemn Certain Feelings?

God does decry a number of toxic feelings. He warns against pride, chronic anger, lust, greed, envy, hatred and fear. We should take corrective action when we feel these emotions.

Corrective action does not target the feelings themselves. We cannot stop feelings by ordering them away. To break free from toxic emotions identify and correct the wrong thoughts and actions that cause them (Rms 12:2). Forget “I shouldn’t feel this way” and look for better ways to think and behave.

For example, defeat pride by confessing faults. Overcome envy by admitting that money can’t buy happiness, counting your blessings and helping someone in need. End lust by refusing to look in wrong places. Conquer fear by remembering that God goes before us. Neutralize hatred by thinking on the tragic end of evil doers.

What About You?

How do you deal with your feelings? Let me know which feelings give you the most trouble in the comment section of this blog.

Do you think of your feelings as your friend? Do you give them the time and respect every friend deserves? Do you grow close to others by revealing your true feelings? Do you heed the signals they send you about what you need to do at home, work and church?

I hope you accept and make good use of the emotions God gives you. Let’s all try not to judge, criticize or run away from our feelings. We could miss important messages God wants us to hear.

Cheryl

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

About Cheryl Savageau

Licensed Professional Clinical Counselor
This entry was posted in Personal Growth, Relationships, Wellness. Bookmark the permalink.

4 Responses to The Truth about Feelings

  1. Kathy Bond says:

    I have a dear friend dying and in great pain. I listen to her cry and groan and struggle. We pray all the time. She continues to hurt day after day. I feel so numb and wonder if my heart has become cold or ynfeeling? How can my prayers be heard with such a heart. I continue to pray but the numbness keeps getting stronger but I will not leave my friend or stop praying though I can’t take away this horrible struggle she is enduring…

    • Cheryl Savageau says:

      You’re standing by her in a beautiful way! Keep on. Don’t qt the numbness…it’s normal and allows you to carry on.

  2. Carl Lancaster says:

    I long lived with the idea that certain feelings were wrong. However I have learned that what I carry around in my head each day and what I focus my vision on determines the amount of greed, lust, anger or resentment with which I have to struggle. My battle each day is to think the right thoughts and keep my eyes on the right things. (Phil. 4:8). .

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