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When should you trust your feelings? When should you not?
I don’t recommend you ever ignore your feelings. They are there for a reason.
But it’s up to you to figure out what they mean and what to do about them.
If your feelings are negative, that doesn’t mean you agree with them and follow them. Think of your feelings like your ability to taste or smell. You don’t continue eating if the food tastes bad. But you should be glad you can taste that the food is bad, so you can stop eating.
Just because you feel like you want to steal something, doesn’t mean you should. But the urge to steal something should help you learn something about what you need emotionally. Perhaps you need to ask for what you need more often?
Always consider how there could be a legitimate way to satisfy your feelings. You might feel hungry for junk food, but how about something healthy instead?
Or, you might have a goal to lose weight down to a healthy weight. Without a good option, sometimes the healthiest thing to do is to not eat anything. You’ll feel hungry going unsatisfied, but you have a higher purpose in mind: feeling fit and enjoying being in shape.
You might feel angry like you want to get revenge. If you follow through with revenge, you’ll likely only create more problems for you and harm others. But feeling angry tells you that some changes are needed. Fool me once, shame on you; fool me twice, shame on me.
Emotions are an excellent catalyst for learning life lessons. Sometimes this means learning the truth, but at other times this means unlearning what is false.
Emotions are indicators which require interpretation. They aren’t a green light to act inappropriately. If you continue to act spontaneously on your feelings, then at some point you’ll find yourself someplace you’d rather not be. Oh, if we might only be able to taste the regret before we act.
When you have to make a decision that requires discernment (a decision that isn’t obviously right or wrong), they can act more like faith, intuition, or your gut instinct. Thank you, God for this gift of discernment. Help us all to grow in wisdom by your Spirit.
Matt Pavlik is a licensed professional clinical counselor who wants to see each individual restored to their true identity. He has more than 20 years of experience counseling individuals and couples at his Christian counseling practice, New Reflections Counseling. Matt and Georgette have been married since 1999 and live with their four children in Centerville, Ohio.