By Dr. Froswa Booker-Drew
As I get older, I recognize that feelings are real and yet, they can be dangerous. Our feelings, if unchecked, can wreak havoc and confusion.
Just last week, I received a voicemail from an angry lady. She was livid about something that happened to her and spewed frustration about what others had done. I immediately called her back, and she began to apologize for being in her feelings and reacting too quickly. I called to inform her that it wasn’t something I was responsible for and after listening to the situation, I immediately informed her that she needed to reach out to a totally different entity. She continued to apologize after realizing that she had gotten upset without having clear information.
She’s not alone—it is commonplace to witness individuals immediately respond based on how they feel. Many of our decisions are rooted in how it makes us feel.
We immediately respond often without thinking things through and truly assessing what is going on. Relationships have been destroyed, trust broken, and jobs terminated because of the need to respond.
If more people paused and thought of the consequences of their actions, they might be more apt to do things differently.
According to Dr. Bryn Farnsworth, “…feelings are the conscious experience of emotional reactions. Originating in the neocortical regions of the brain, feelings are sparked by emotions and shaped by personal experiences, beliefs, memories, and thoughts linked to that particular emotion. Strictly speaking, a feeling is the side product of your brain perceiving an emotion and assigning a certain meaning to it.”
Your feelings become thoughts which can then become an action— they are all connected. Assumptions are the worst because they lead us down a path of no return because we can assign the wrong meaning to the emotion we are experiencing.
Without having complete information and knowledge, we can make decisions that have far reaching consequences that began in our thoughts and our emotions.
In Luke 15:11-32, we see an example of a young man who thought he knew more and requested his inheritance from his father. He probably allowed his feelings to validate his decision and instead of staying in a place of stability and comfort, he squandered his finances with nowhere to live.
“17 When he came to his senses, he said, ‘How many of my father’s hired servants have food to spare, and here I am starving to death! 18 I will set out and go back to my father and say to him: Father, I have sinned against heaven and against you. 19 I am no longer worthy to be called your son; make me like one of your hired servants.’ 20 So he got up and went to his father.”
His feelings, based in bad thinking, resulted in destructive consequences.
When we make rash decisions, we are like this young man. Instead of consulting God (represented by the Father in this passage), we allow our feelings, bad information, and other people’s opinions to sway us into choices that are not in our best interests.
We make assumptions that others have it better than we do and if we just do it ‘our’ way, things would be better. So much grief could have been avoided if he had spoken with his father first.
Are you talking to God about your emotions and feelings before acting? Are you allowing the presence and Word of God to inform your decisions, your feelings, and your thoughts before reacting or seeking the advice of others? The Bible speaks about emotions and their power. “Be angry and do not sin; do not let the sun go down on your anger and give no opportunity to the devil. (Ephesians 4:26-27 ESV) It is okay to experience our feelings because they are a gauge.
We cannot allow our feelings to control us in such a way that we make decisions that harm us and others. It’s not that you don’t pay attention to how you feel. You should but you cannot allow your feelings to be the sole indicator in your decision making.
It is about listening to God to direct you, seeking wise counsel, and taking an inventory of what is going on objectively. “Do not be anxious about anything, but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known to God. And the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.” Philippians 4:6-7. Our emotions and feelings are real. They are data. And just as data doesn’t tell the entire story, your feelings don’t either.
Dr. Froswa’ Booker-Drew is the Founder and CEO of Soulstice Consultancy, Specializing as a Partnership Broker and Leadership Expert for companies and organizations to thrive with measurable and meaningful impact. She also is the VP of Community Affairs and Strategic Alliances for the State Fair of Texas.