Mistaking feelings for truth

Distorted picture of a building, with undistorted flag

Another form of distorted thinking (or “mis-blink“) that we can easily fall into during times of change is mistaking our feelings for truth.

This happens when we feel something so strongly that we think it must be true, regardless of the evidence.

We human beings are emotional creatures. Emotions are what make us more than just machines. Without our emotions there would be no joy, no love, no sports, no arts, no movies, comedy, music, friends, lovers, life-partners, or children. Emotions are what make our lives worth living.

So the problem is not the feelings in themselves but the way that we interpret those feelings.

When we mistake our feelings for truth we set up a circular train of thought which says, “Because I am feeling this so strongly it must be true, which makes me feel it even more strongly, which makes it even more true!!!”

This amplifies the effects of the other seven mis-blinks.

But beliefs that are not supported by facts are dangerous. They lead us into over-confidence or self-doubt. We think, “Because I am feeling so good (or bad) about this I am bound to succeed (or fail), which means there is nothing I need to do (or can do) to change the outcome.”

Then we fail to take the actions we could have taken and we become less likely to achieve what could have been achieved.

In a time of change no outcome is ever guaranteed. And when we mistake our feelings for truth we load the dice against ourselves.

When we remember instead that our feelings are not truth, they are just something we are experiencing for a short time, we can start to learn to transform those emotions into something more useful.

This is another step towards becoming antifragile.

Do you know anyone who believes something despite the evidence? What kinds of outcomes does that create for them and the people around them? Would they find it useful to have a structured approach for making clearer sense of the situation, finding more options to move forward, and taking the actions to create the outcomes they want?


Adapted from Inner Leadership: a framework and tools for building inspiration in times of change.

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Photo By Carlos ZGZ via StockPholio.net

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