We live within our own thoughts and emotions, but sometimes those feelings can become misconstrued as facts. This can apply to anything: when we’re talking about ourselves and our own insecurities, when we project ourselves onto others, or when we place judgement on a situation without knowing the full story.
When I was 20 years old my therapist at the time told me something that I still refer back to today. She said that when I feel something it doesn’t necessarily equate to reality. It seems like such a simple and obvious concept, but so often we fail to recognize that our feelings are just that…Feelings! And it only makes sense! Humans are emotional beings, we think with our hearts and our brains follow suit. What we have to remember is that everyone has their own unique way of thinking, many of which are based upon who and what surrounds us; our personal histories; the environments we’re in; not to mention the fact that we’re bombarded with information on a daily basis whether from social media, news, advertisements, etc. All of this affects how we feel and it can get overwhelming and confusing. It can influence our mood and shape the lens in which we see the world so it’s important that we assess our feelings before we come to any conclusions.
A personal example for me was a time when I was running late and anxiously rushing towards an open elevator door during a particularly stressful work week. I realized that I didn’t even check whether the elevator was going up or down so I stood right in front of the entrance like a dunce trying to figure out which direction it was going. It didn't even register in my mind that there was a man trying to exit right in front of me. He shot me a scathing glare and muttered, under his breath, “What is it with rude people?” I was shocked, “Me?! Rude?! I’m the politest person you’ll ever meet! I’m the person who turns herself into a doorman that no one tips! I’m the person who overuses her “pleases” and “thank yous”! I’m the person who never calls before 9 AM and after 9 PM so as not to disturb people’s quiet hours! How does this stranger get off calling me rude?!” Okay, it wasn’t quite that dramatic but you get the picture. It was then that I applied my therapist’s wise teaching. That man’s impression of me was that I’m a rude person based on how I made him feel. I blocked his way, unintentionally ignoring his existence so it’s understandable that he would be irritated; but the thing is, I’m not a rude person. I was a person who made a mistake because I was overwhelmed and dumbfounded. Now I know this story isn’t that remarkable, but it was an eye-opening moment for me. From that experience I was able to recall that what we feel isn’t always reality.
So you know that asshole who cut you off on the road? Perhaps they’re not an asshole after all, maybe they were in the midst of a panic attack, maybe they were rushing to an emergency. We never really know what’s going on in other people’s lives so before we make that judgement call, let’s remember that what we think of someone may be based purely on our feelings. Now I’m not saying you should or shouldn't feel negatively about someone. Hell, maybe they really do rub you the wrong way. You don’t have to like anyone, but if we’re going to go so far as to claim something about someone, we should have undeniable proof. Regardless of how we feel towards them, they deserve the benefit of the doubt.
And of course, do yourself the kindness and courtesy to give yourself the same consideration. If your feelings are telling you that you’re not good enough, question why. Why do I feel this way? Are my reasons actually valid or am I just feeling low at the moment. Sift through your mind like a filing cabinet and think of all the things that counter those reasons. I’m willing to bet that you’ll find a time that you felt differently, and how about the fact that you’re a living, breathing human being? That alone makes you good enough!
You feeling like nobody likes you doesn't render you undesirable.
You feeling unattractive does not, in turn, make you ugly.
You feeling stupid doesn't mean you’re not smart.
There have been countless times that I’ve felt weak even when I was at my strongest, and the more I reminded myself of this, the more I saw that the proof was in the pudding; I have conquered and achieved so much even when I felt so small. My feelings were not matching what I was accomplishing.
Feelings are merely a look into our own perception and perceptions are subjective meaning they're not always reliable. With that said, we should never disregard our feelings; they are extremely important. They’re what makes us human. They help guide us through our intuition, instincts, decision making, and ethics. Without it we’d be robots! We should always recognize our feelings; we just have to learn to separate them from facts. This isn’t an easy task, but the more mindful we are the easier it will be to identify the truth, and you know what they say… The truth will set you free.