In our current cultural moment, we’re often told to connect with our feelings, that understanding them will guide us to what is right. “Follow your heart”. “Listen to your body.” “Let your feelings be your guide.” You might find yourself thinking things like:
– This person triggers my anxiety so I should cut them out of my life.
– I feel unappreciated at this job so I should just quit.
– I feel unloved in this marriage so I should get out.
– I feel like another glass of wine, so I should just have one #selfcare.
– I don’t feel like doing this project so I should just not do it.
Our feelings are screaming loudly, and the culture encourages us to lean in and let these feelings determine our decisions.
But what if your feelings were lying to you and you didn’t know it?
Let me tell you something that isn’t a popular opinion these days: Your feelings will not lead you in the right direction. Your feelings are not meant to be followed.
Let’s go into a little bit of science.
When we are triggered by a perceived threat (aka, a feeling) it sends our brain into fight or flight mode. Fight or flight mode is good if there is a bear in the forest. But because our brains don’t do well at distinguishing physical pain from emotional pain, or between small and large threats, most of the time the “bear” is our spouse, boss, or friend.
We all have core go-to coping responses that are meant to help us with the bear, but when they enter into other relationships or other environments, they can become destructive. For me, my core fight/flight responses (we all have about 3) are to get angry, get anxious, or try to escape. These core feelings are developed through the violations of love or trust throughout our lives, and they are what we feel again and again in different situations.
But if we just follow the feeling and leave the relationship or quit the job, then when we start a new relationship or being a new job those old feelings are likely to come back – because we carry these same feelings with us throughout our lives. Not only will these feelings lead us again and again into destructive behavior, but following them will einforce the lies they hold.
But what if we didn’t let our feelings lead the way? What if instead we got out of our fight or flight mode and made decisions from a grounded peaceful place?
Here are what Restoration Theory calls the “4 Steps” to get those feelings in check and to help bring you to a place where you can think clearly. They also rewire your brain so that lie that was created from that wound loses power over your life.
1. Name what you are feeling. “I feel alone.”
2. Name what you would usually do. “I would usually get angry.”
3. Say the Truth! “The truth is that I am never alone because I believe God is with me always and I am surrounded by people who support and love me.”
4. Say what you are going to do instead. “Instead of getting angry I am going to reach out for connection.”
(Step 5: Now do it!)
Don’t get me wrong, we aren’t supposed to ignore our feelings. It doesn’t serve us to run our bodies into the ground, stay our whole life in a job that depletes us, or act oblivious to a relationship that is toxic. No, we need to honor our body, acknowledge our feelings – and then speak truth to them. It might, in fact, be true that you do need to end that friendship or find another job, but you aren’t going to truly be able to find out until you do the work to stop letting your feelings guide you.
If you are interested in learning more about Restoration Therapy head to https://www.restorationtherapytraining.com/ to learn more.
About the Contributor:
Brittany is a former Marriage and Family Therapist, a church leader, and a coach, who is passionate about helping people move out of the spaces they have been stuck in. She has also walked through her own journey of healing from decades of depression, anxiety, anger, and a deep sense of inadequacy. She is the host of the ‘Morning, Mama’ podcast where she helps women heal from the past, parent with purpose, and live out their calling. You can listen to her podcast on all podcast apps or at bit.ly/MorningMamaPodcast.