There are 3 reasons that feelings can’t be trusted
But, before we get into those reasons, let’s grab a hold of the benefits and even the necessity of feelings.
The ability to feel is what gives life warmth, depth, and definition.
Feelings add an unspoken layer to how we interpret and dissect – and that can be good. Very good.
But as with anything, there are boundaries and constraints and an understanding that must be applied when looking at (and living with) our feelings.
One such boundary is knowing that at times, feelings can’t be trusted.
Have you ever gotten a gut-feeling about something?
Maybe you were about to enter into a bad business deal or relationship, and something – that you couldn’t quite fully put your finger on, felt off.
Maybe there was a season in a relationship where something suddenly seemed off.
Communication with the individual(s) began to diminish in frequency and quality. Perhaps, there was a silent tension. Something was just off. You felt it, and maybe it was even justified once the full truth came into knowledge.
Our feelings shouldn’t be ignored. They serve a valuable and indicative purpose.
Feelings can indicate when something is wrong, when a boundary has been violated, even when something is grieving to the Holy Spirit.
Feelings indicate danger or matters needing attention. Feelings signal activity within our emotions.
Pause and reflect on the types of things that your feelings have served as an indicator for.
Our feelings should be trained, tested, and kept in their rightful place.
One anchoring (and very hard) principle that I have learned to apply in my life is that emotions and feelings are not King.
In other words, while they exist, and while they may be true, understandable, or even justified, feelings do not and should not dictate or rule me. Nor are they allowed to run wild because I, well, feel like it.
A larger principle is that feelings do not trump the Word of God or His commands in spite of what I am weathering at the moment. Proverbs 30:5 counsels us that, “Every word of God proves true…”
When my feelings are echoing that I am alone, the Word of God tells me that He will never leave me nor forsake me.
When I want to lash out in retaliation to offenders, scripture tells me that my anger doesn’t produce the righteousness of God. It also tells me to be slow to anger, to not avenge myself but instead, leave it to the wrath of God; that the person who has a hasty temper exalts folly
Whoever trusts in his own mind is a fool, but he who walks in wisdom will be delivered.Proverbs 28:26
So, what exactly can we not trust our feelings to do?
- We can’t trust our feelings as the sole basis for making vital life choices.
- We can’t trust our feelings as a measure of judgement or comprehensive interpretation.
- We can’t trust our feelings to adequately decipher truth from untruth.
- We can’t trust our feelings to predict the future or what may be right for us.
A general “rule of thumb” is that feelings are never single. They have to be coupled with something and then tried.
You need more than a feeling to jump to that major conclusion.
You need facts and maybe even a second or third opinion – all the while humbly and soberly accepting that you won’t have all the answers and all the perspectives.
Great clarifying questions to couple feelings with are:
- What factors are contributing to me feeling this way?
- Will I feel this way a week, month, or year from now?
- Am I aware that I don’t know all the facts?
- How does God instruct me in His Word about this? (*the MOST important factor)
Scripture often reveals men and women of God performing acts that were unrealistic, unreasonable, and very difficult.
Still, they pressed forward by the certainty of faith and obedience to the will of God – not because they trusted their feelings on the matter. I talk in depth about faith over our feelings here.
How often have you felt like giving up because of how you felt? Now ask yourself, was that feeling reason enough to actually quit?
Chances are, you’ll answer this with “no”.
The physical pain of exercising can make anyone not want to do it. Does that mean that you should stop exercising?
The feeling of physical pain in this instance can’t be trusted because it is not reflecting the truth that exercise is in fact good for us and will pay off nicely in the long run if we keep at it.
I have this endless debate with my 10-year-old OFTEN! As she mumbles and mopes during Fitness time, I have to encourage and persuade her that her body will in fact thank her later. (Side note: I wish I had exercised more as a kid and young adult!)
Feelings when untamed and untrained will run wild and can lead to gross misinterpretation and misunderstanding.
Not to mention, the untamed and untrained feeling can fuel an inner world of misery and toxic narratives that will keep you bound. It’s a rabbit hole that has to be avoided!
Have you ever been fortunate enough to have a reconciliation conversation with someone of value to you, and you find out that your thoughts were far left of all that was actually going on? Do you remember how relieved you felt to know that your feelings were wrong?
Or, have you ever been in a dispute that didn’t lead to reconciliation; in fact, it was the ending of a connection with someone, and in that discussion, you were shocked to realize how far-reaching their conclusions were based on their feelings?
Trust in the Lord with all your heart, And lean not on your own understanding;Proverbs 3:5-6
In all your ways acknowledge Him, And He shall direct your paths.
Alas, here are 3 reasons why feelings can’t be trusted:
If you are navigating muddy waters and life is heavy right now, you may be flooded with unpleasant feelings.
In a desperate attempt to alleviate the discomfort and find rest, you may be searching for answers and the next right step to take.
Friend, take heart. I have been there.
I talk about the discipline of being still when you are feeling discouraged and this is that time for you.
Don’t proceed in haste. Recognize that your feelings aren’t King, they must be coupled, and they can’t be trusted.
1.Feelings Change – That’s right. Feelings are super fluid. What is making you steam today, may not feel as hot and unbearable in the future. There is a possibility that it could, but chances are, it won’t. Train your feelings. You may not be able to magically make them disappear, but you can set limits on where they flow to.
2. Feelings only take your side into account – our feelings press for the number one spot. They aim to be King. There is, however, only one true King – Jesus. His word proves true and it has been given to us as a lamp to our feet and a guide to our path. Pray for guidance, seek out Godly Counsel and Godly Friends to pray with you.
3. The heart can deceive you – replace those foul and controlling thoughts with things that are true, honest, lovely, just, pure, and of a good report. Think on these things.
Feelings can’t be trusted, but here’s what can be
You may be feeling like, “now what?!”
Knowing that feelings can’t be trusted is not the same as being able to discern, use wisdom, and apply sound judgement. You are expected to be sober in your thinking and decision making.
As you release trust in your own feelings, the expectation is to pick up trust in the only One who is trustworthy – the Living God. He has given us His Holy Spirit to guide us into all truth and to keep us.
Place more stock in His market than in your own when you’re crashing under pressure and discomfort.
As you walk with Him, you begin to know His voice.
As you keep your mind stayed on Him, He gives you perfect peace.
He gives you power, love, and a sound mind.
Now that is worth trusting in.
Growing in Grace,
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- Episode 26 – But I thought I was Healed?
- Late Night Series – The Mountains are Listening
- 3 Reasons why Feelings can’t be Trusted
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