There’s a widespread perception that feelings are an untrustworthy guide.
I think this probably comes from situations where people have bucked the conventional trends and rules of life and justified it rightly or wrongly on the basis of feelings that defy scrutiny and interrogation.
“It just feels right to me!”
But the same thing happens all the time with thinking. Thinking too can be an untrustworthy and dangerous guide for many people, but in those instances we tend to label them “stupid” or “irrational” or “stubborn” rather than criticise them for thinking per se.
The truth is that there’s such a thing as good and bad feeling, just as there is good and bad thinking.
What makes either one good or bad is the degree of honesty with oneself, and the knowledge in and around the thought or feeling that guides us.
For example, if we think that vaccination is bad for us, or that raw chicken is okay to eat, then we are being guided by thoughts that are either insufficiently scrutinised or else coloured by some ulterior motive.
Similarly, our feelings can be coloured by deeper motives, or we can be mistaken in our own interpretation of them.
In accord with temperament, I think we can use either thinking or feeling to work out what we want to do. But it’s up to us to be honest with ourselves and clear about the nature of the thoughts or feelings we are following.
Perhaps the best way to put it is that both our thoughts and feelings should be genuine or authentic. In my own life I seem to get into trouble when – either thinking or feeling – my words and actions are coloured by ulterior motives of which I am not fully conscious.
Things like insecurity, escapism, avoidance and so on.
I might have a desire to say something, but what is driving that desire? Is it the genuine expression of a good feeling, or is it a shady evasion of a bad one?