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 has played a major role in our politics lately.

Mistaking feelings for facts is a circular train of thought that amplifies the effects of the other seven mis-blinks and 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 equally into over-confidence or 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.

We 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.

Realising that our feelings are not truth, they are just something we are experiencing for a short time, is our first step to learning to transform those emotions. Then we can turn them from unhelpful tyrants into useful servants. This is another step to making us antifragile.

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