Stop Saying “I Feel Like”

Stop Saying “I Feel Like” November 18, 2010

So I had planned to talk about the forces in the world that make it difficult to be a man, and give my own logical and well-planned thoughts on how to overcome them. Then I saw this, and realized it’s already been covered.

So, on to other business.We are not decisive. As a country, as a time, as individuals and as a people, one of our biggest, most idiotic flaws is our inability to choose a path and take it. This, by the way, is far worse than being on the completely wrong path. The decisively bad are almost as bold as the decisively good, in that they take action. The decisively bad are evil men, the indecisive men are cowards, and in the fires of hell, I do believe the two amount to the same thing, though the cowards wasted a life and an afterlife. What is it if you gain the world and lose your soul, to be sure, but what the hell is the matter with you if you’re so indecisive you lose both?

The least obvious example of this cowardice is also the most reoccurring: the modern replacement of the phrase “I think that”, or “I believe that” with “I feel like.” To be fair, I used to do this all the time, and I apologize if this phenomenon is limited to the American high school. “I feel like Williams uses death as a motif in the play.” “I feel like we should stay here until the cops leave.” “I feel like it’d be best to not take this verse literally.” All these statements are unified by their lack of balls. When we begin our statements with “I think that”, we make a definitive statement. This is our belief, this is what we have formulated to be true. Each statements is a flag planted in the earth, each statement begins with the wild claim that our thoughts have validity, and that we are the sole creators of the same. To make my example clearer, it really is the same as saying “I have created and believe the thought that we should hide from the cops, under the table, and quickly.” Now, we say “I feel like”.

Feelings are not things that we can be held accountable for. If you are struck, you will feel angry, and no one can say that you could’ve helped it. I cannot create feelings out of will. I cannot desire to be frightened and become frightened. No, I must think of frightening things, or watch Glee, or use some other external source to achieve a feeling. I am not accountable for my feelings, I am not the creator of my feelings. So beginning statements with “I feel like” results in us saying – consciously or not – “I am not accountable for what I’m about to say, nor is what I’m saying the result of myself, but Williams uses death as a motif in his play.” What? That’s the sort of statement you make when you come out of the closet, not in day to day language. We are so frightened of being decisive, our culture of relativism is so strong, that we will not be held accountable for our own thoughts.

It’s just a phrase, one might argue, and to an extent that’s true. But our language reflects our culture. Our indecisiveness is clear in our fear of marriage. We are either deluded that everything must be pristine and perfect for that business, or we have so little confidence in our own ability to love that we’ll never get married, just co-habitate, which – as far as I can tell – is as daring as a vasectomy. Which, of course, is another brilliant example of our indecisiveness; birth control. Having child is a lot like saying “I think that.” You make a definitive, lasting statement of love that you are bold enough to be held accountable for. In so many senses of the phrase, crappy birth-controlled sex is like saying “I feel like.”  Our religions, or lack thereof, are another example. Unitarianism. Agnosticism. It was them Chesterton reminds “”I say that a man must be certain of his morality for the simple reason that he has to suffer for it.”

We’d probably like to romanticize all this by saying we are free-spirited, wandering types. But indecision is the death of romance. Indecision ties us, chains us, to that horrible slave-master of nothingness. Decision, firmness, and trust in one’s own ability to reason puts our feet on the ground, and frees us to walk where we please.

Not that I am in any position of authority to do so, but let this be a challenge for you. If you start phrases with, “Now stop me if I’m wrong,” then stop. If you’ve been dating someone for what feels like forever, stop doing that and get married. If you’re like me, and you spend a lot of time in indecision with your faith, unsure of whether to go hard, willing to dip your feet, but not willing to let it ruin your fun, then cut that out. Go big or go home. The Lord says this in Revelation “How I wish you’d either go big or go home. But if you’re half-hearted I will spit you out of my mouth.”

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