When Feelings Mislead

 

Everyone knows their eyes play tricks on them. That’s what makes optical illusions so fun. Our other senses get fooled, too. The earth spins at about 1000 mph but we don’t feel it. The sun neither rises or sets but it sure looks like it. The car next to us slowly moving forward in the parking lot makes it feel like we’re moving backwards.

If our physical senses are so easily misled, why are we so confident about our feelings? For many, if they feel it they think it must be true.

Not so.

Just because something feels true doesn’t make it true

  • Feeling ugly doesn’t mean we are ugly.
  • Feeling worthless doesn’t mean we are worthless.
  • Feeling in danger doesn’t mean we are in danger.
  • Feeling compassionate doesn’t mean we are being compassionate.
  • Feeling controlled doesn’t mean we’re being controlled.
  • Feeling at risk doesn’t mean we are at risk.

Just because something feels untrue doesn’t make it untrue

  • Not feeling controlling doesn’t mean we aren’t controlling.
  • Not feeling needy doesn’t mean we aren’t being needy.
  • Not feeling irritating doesn’t mean we’re not being irritating.
  • Not feeling like we need continual reassurance doesn’t mean we don’t need continual reassurance.
  • Not feeling critical doesn’t mean we aren’t critical.
  • Not feeling loved doesn’t mean we’re not loved.

My point? I want to remind myself to have a healthy skepticism about things. Being confident is not the same as being right. It’s possible to feel certain and yet be certainly wrong.

Presuming, assuming, jumping to conclusions, and other flubs

After 30+ years of helping others manage and resolve conflict it’s time to jot down peace making pointers that may be of help to others.

One of the many flubs we make when arguing is believing we know what the other person is thinking. Sometimes we’re right; sometimes we’re wrong. And when we’re wrong we simply add fuel to the fire. Here are reminders to pay attention to what therapists call “mind reading.”

  1. Presumption means presuming such and such is so when in fact it might not be.
  2. Just because we feel something is true doesn’t make it true.
  3. Don’t forget to evaluate your perception of your perceptions.
  4. Through presumption comes nothing but strife. (Proverbs 13:10, NASB)
  5. Consider the possibility that what you heard isn’t what someone  actually said.
  6. Remember you are not 100% objective.
  7. We filter other’s words through our own subjective grid.
  8. Jumping to conclusions often means jumping into conflict.
  9. To clarify what others mean simply ask, “Is this what you mean?
  10. Tell them what you think they’re saying and ask if you’re right.
  11. Don’t make mountains out of mole hills.
  12. No two people see the world in exactly the same way.