In the office one day last week I was chatting with two friends about our lives. As with most women in the prime of life, we have all survived rough patches.
While commiserating on how memories of events long past, even those we think we have come to terms with, can surprise us with their power, one of us blurted out, “Feelings are stupid!” We all laughed in agreement and went back to our desks.
As I’ve thought about that comment I agree with it, more and more. Feelings, emotions, are incredibly powerful, but they are just not smart. A life guided by emotions is an erratic one, at best.
We are sometimes urged to rely on “gut feelings” in tricky situations, but if those visceral emotions aren’t actually instincts honed and informed by past experience, observation and rational thought, you might as well flip a coin.
Emotions can be triggered and influenced by random sensations that tickle our subconscious. They give life color and richness, they separate us from the animal kingdom, but they cannot be trusted.
The sixties philosophy “if it feels good, do it” had some tragic consequences and our society continues to deal with the fall out. A better motto might be “if it feels good, and it hurts no one, and if it is beneficial, then check it out to see if you might enjoy doing it, now and then, in moderation.” Not so hip and edgy, but smarter.
Feelings are like high-spirited two-year-olds…they are great fun, cute as the dickens and require constant supervision.
While I might lament with my friends that we never outgrow our susceptibility to being ambushed by our emotions, I couldn’t imagine a life without them.