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We all experience a variety of feelings every day of our lives – good ones, not-so-good ones, happiness, sadness, fear, joy – the list goes on and on. And, sometimes we don’t know what to do with them. If you are like me, you have probably been told that, on one hand, you should ignore your feelings and never listen to them, and on the other hand, you should only listen to them and follow what they tell you. I believe the truth is found somewhere between those two extremes. In fact, I believe our feelings are our friends.
Feelings are a lot like the lights on the dashboard of a car. They are indicators. If you are driving along in your car and the oil light comes on, it is for the purpose of letting you know that something is going on that needs your attention. Once it has come on, it has done its job. There is nothing else the light can do other than warn you that something is not right. It would be foolish to pull into a service station and ask an attendant to disconnect that light because it is bothering you. The purpose of the warning light is to help you; not to hurt you.
I have discovered that when my “negative feeling light” comes on inside of me, it is simply an indicator to let me know that something needs to be corrected. The feeling is trying to call my attention to something that needs my attention. I cannot rely upon the feeling itself to do the job that needs to be done. Once it has given its warning, it is then up to me to act on the information that I have received.
I have also discovered that feelings usually follow information. If I have information concerning a situation, oftentimes my feelings will follow what I have learned. For example, if I find that I have said or done something to hurt someone’s feelings, I feel badly about it. I then try to correct the situation. If I have information about something that makes me feel good (like a grandchild’s upcoming birthday), then I can do something good in accordance with that information. In other words, information helps give some direction to the feelings that I experience.
At some point in our life we have all hurt another person’s feelings. Hurt feelings do more damage in families and business than perhaps anything else. We all make mistakes, but we can learn from them. If a mistake is only related to a task, (I turned left when I should have turned right), then it will be fairly easy to correct. But if what I did is related to hurting someone’s feelings (I said something spiteful to my wife or child), then that is going to be more difficult to correct. When feelings get hurt, you not only have to correct the hurt feelings, you have to correct the error in the task as well. In other words, it becomes twice as hard.
One feeling that many of us experience in the morning is that of being tired when we wake up. There are typically two things that my feelings are telling me: 1) that I probably went to bed too late, and 2) that I ate something I shouldn’t have eaten. Although my body may have slept on the outside, it was working overtime internally to digest the food I had eaten. It is no wonder I wake up feeling tired! If I will listen to that feeling, I will not eat late and I will go to bed early enough to get a good night’s sleep. Then I will wake up feeling rested and alert.
A great number of us fight the feeling of guilt on a daily basis for not having gotten enough done. But, guilt is simply another warning light indicating to us that we have gotten off-track and need to make a course correction. Or, it may mean that we need to work differently within our own personal values.
Finally, let’s look at the feeling of fear, which is the opposite of faith. Fear overwhelms us by telling us that life is simply a random experience and everything depends on our own abilities. However, faith reminds us that we are being led and guided through life and that we are part of a divine plan. Our life is important, and we do count. We make a difference! Faith is also based on specific knowledge that we have received, and it creates the feeling of peace in our heart.
This thing about feelings is tricky. It is important to pay attention to what we are feeling because it gives a good indication of what is going on inside of us. When the “negative feeling light” comes on, it should not be ignored. It should be looked at to find out what information may need to be changed or understood in a different way. If you are feeling like something in your life is wrong, that probably means something IS wrong! When we make the correction and deal with the related situation, the “warning light” will go off because things are normal once again.
I am so grateful that I understand this process. Although, not working with it perfectly, I have made great strides. I am no longer running from or ignoring my feelings, but listening to them and recognizing that they are truly a part of life meant to help me.
This week it might be a good idea to look at the different aspects of your life and see how you are feeling about each one. And, it would be a good idea to have a pen and paper handy so that you can jot down the ideas that come to your mind. Feelings are a huge part of daily life. Feelings are our friends! Be grateful for the feelings that come your way. They are meant to help guide you in the right direction.
Tip: Your feelings are your friend!
Have a great week! God bless you!
Dr. Robert A. Rohm