Emotions are complicated. In our modern culture we really aren’t sure what to do with them. We are both afraid of them and addicted to them. We ignore them or we worship them.
Our feelings are an important tool for vibrant living. They are important for our relationships. But how do we know if what we are feeling is right? How do we know if our emotions are telling us the truth?
First and foremost, our feelings are always valid. In that sense, they are always true. We often try to shut down our emotions because we think what we feel is wrong. And that is not really the way it works.
How you feel is not the part that is wrong. Emotions are one aspect of the truth. They are always true. They cannot help but be true. In so far as they are appropriately applied.
Our feelings are an alarm clock alerting us to our values. They let us know that something that matters to us is at stake. And that is always a good thing.
Where we go wrong is in allowing our emotions more than they are responsible for. Our emotions, in a strange sort of way, cannot lie to us because they are neutral. Your alarm clock is just telling you to wake up in the morning. It is not telling you what kind of day you ought to have.
The deceit comes not from our emotions themselves but from our reaction to the emotion.
When we feel anger, we automatically start thinking something negative is happening. That we need to fight. But that is not always the case. Anger, like all emotions, is alerting us to a value. It does not tell you if the value is being attacked, ignored, or exposed in a scary-vulnerable sort of way.
When we think the traditional positive/negative emotions necessitate corresponding positive/negative reactions from us, we are deceiving ourselves. It is not our emotion that lies to us; it is our discernment. Our self-awareness lets us down. Our perspective is what falls short.
The fault is not in the feeling but in the way we process the feeling. Our emotions are a part of the truth, but not the whole truth. When we try to ask our emotions to tell us how to think and what to do, we are surrendering to them more authority than they can handle.
So what happens is we act in a way that may be contradictory to our character. We do something that is not in alignment with the very values the emotions are trying to alert us of because we are trying to justify or silence the emotions rather than move on to addressing the value they represent.
How many times have you asked yourself, why did I do that?!
Our lack of clarity and our lack of truth does not happen because our emotions are imperfect. It happens because we do not know the proper way to utilize our emotions.
Your emotions do not lie to you. They invite you to make decisions. They are a tool that can help reveal your values. What value is the emotion alerting you of? Why? What should you do in response? These are a matter of thought and perspective. A matter of self-awareness, discernment, and wisdom. It is in those arenas we let ourselves down.