“An obligation to feel can freeze feelings” Cs Lewis
Stop waiting to feel something. Start before you feel. Your feelings are about as dependable as a burp. Though beautiful & massively important we need to tread carefully. What really drives you? What motivates you? Why are you reading this blog? Why are you following your religion? Why are you working out? Why are you obsessed with knowledge?
For most of us it boils down to “feelings”. We do things or avoid things because we want to feel pleasure & avoid pain. We are hedonistic by nature. Constantly in pursuit of pleasure. I’m not saying this is bad. I’m just making an observation.
Think about it. We want to “feel” secure, so we pursue careers that appear to offer that. We want to “feel” God so we pursue spiritual disciplines or doctrines that may help to cultivate that. We want to “feel” important, so we attach our identity to things, people, & ideologies that help us garner positive feelings. Heck, my kids endure broccoli for the pleasure of the treat they will receive as a reward. The marathon runner endures the months of training for the reward of the finish line. This drives us. Philosophers have known this for ages.
Here’s the truth about “feelings”. They cannot be conjured or “willed” into existence. You can’t will yourself to “feel” happy or to “feel” love. It’s impossible. You can’t “will the love of God” into your heart either. These are things you probably know by experience.
In fact, you can’t demand that anyone feel a certain way about anything. Feelings don’t work like that. Demanding that your spouse, friends, or society are to “feel” a certain way about you is a recipe for heightened frustration & insecurity. People are going to feel how they feel. You’ve got very little to do with that. How do you feel when someone demands that you like them? How do you feel when someone passively manipulates you & fishes for compliments? It’s annoying. You don’t like it. No one likes it. It doesn’t work. When you obligate yourself or others to feel a certain way you’re likely to get the opposite.
Feelings were never meant to become our foundation. Feelings aren’t facts. They aren’t stable. Once you start living according to feelings you’ve entered shaky ground. Watch a few episodes of American idol when you get the chance. You’re going to see plenty of deluded contestants who “felt” they were the next Bieber. Feelings were never meant to steer the ship. Respect them, don’t repress them. Here’s a good skill to adopt, the next time you’re experiencing strong emotions sit on those emotions for a while, don’t act just yet, allow your logical brain to chime in before you act. Ask a trusted friend for their opinion. Pray. Then act.