Mistaking feelings for truth

Distorted picture of a building, with undistorted flag

Another form of distorted thinking (or “mis-blink“) that people can experience during times of change is imagining that just because they are feeling something strongly it must be true, irrespective of the evidence. This is called mistaking feelings for truth.

This is a circular train of thought that amplifies the effects of all the other mis-blinks by saying, “Because I am feeling this [mis-blink] so strongly, it must be true. So I feel worse. Which means [the mis-blink] must be even more true…”

This can lead to over-confidence and under-preparation: “Because I am feeling so good (/bad), that means I am bound to succeed (/fail), which means I don’t need to prepare.”

Human beings are emotional creatures: emotions are what make our lives worth living. Without them there would be no joy, no love, no sports, art, movies, comedy, music, friends, lovers, partners. Emotions are what make us more than just robots and machines. So the problem here is not the feelings in themselves but the way that we interpret those feelings and then the actions that we take.

For example, in a crisis situation we might think, “I am feeling so upset about this situation I must be very weak.” But a more realistic thought would be: “I am feeling upset because something important has happened that I care deeply about it. This shows me my values and what is important to me. So I shall use these feelings to decide what action I am going to take to create what I want instead.”

Mistaking feelings for truth only becomes a problem when we forget to look for supporting evidence for our feelings or when we forget that no matter what the situation is, we can always choose how we respond.

The tools in Chapters 2 and 3 will help us to expand on this. But for now, can you think of anyone who has taken actions based only on feelings, irrespective of facts? What kinds of results has that created? And can you think of people who take decisions based only on facts and not feelings? What results does that create?


Adapted from Inner Leadership: tools for building emotional engagement and inspiration during times of change. Buy the Book

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Photo By Carlos ZGZ via StockPholio.net

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