Mistaking feelings for truth

Distorted picture of a building, with undistorted flag

Another form of distorted thinking (or “mis-blink”) that people can easily fall into during times of change is when we mistake our feelings for truth. This happens when we feel something so strongly that must be true — regardless of the evidence.

This mis-blink has been a major factor in our politics recently.

Mistaking feelings for facts is a circular train of thought that amplifies the effects of the other seven mis-blinks. It says, “Because I am feeling this so strongly it must be true. So I feel even more strongly, which makes it even more true!!!”

But beliefs that are not supported by facts can be dangerous.

Mistaking feelings for truth can lead us both into over-confidence and self-doubt: “Because I am feeling so good (or bad) I must be bound to succeed (or fail), which means there’s nothing I need to do (or can do) to influence the outcome.” Both these mistakes lead to under-preparation and a failure to achieve what could have been achieved.

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

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

When we realise that our feelings are not truth (they are just something we are experiencing for a short time) we can learn to transform those emotions. We can remember to make clear sense of the situation, find more options for moving forward, and then choose how we respond. We can turn our emotions from unhelpful tyrants into useful servants.

Do you know someone who believes their feelings are truth and ignores the facts? What kinds of outcomes does that create? Would it be useful to have a structured approach for making clearer sense of the situation and then finding more options to move forward?


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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