“I Don’t Feel Like It” — No Excuse for the Mature Human Being
Most people in modern society have a very childish, one-way relationship with feelings.
They feel a certain way and act accordingly.
Feeling first. Behavior second.
When they feel angry, they lash out at others. When they feel anxious, they retreat. When they feel sad, they crawl up in their bed. When they feel superior, they misconduct. When they feel inferior, they shut up.
It’s as if they’re just blindly taking orders.
Oh, and if they don’t feel like doing something? Then they can’t do it. Impossible. If they don’t feel like it, nothing can be done about it.
Who cares if their commitments, values, or goals say otherwise… it’s the feelings that determine behavior. Case closed.
We keep preaching how much we value freedom in our society. Yet, when it comes to our own behavior, we seem happy to act like slaves.
Ironic, isn’t it?
But there’s a better way. Read on…
Feelings Aren’t Destiny
Feelings exhibit something called an action tendency.
When we feel anger, we have the tendency to clench our fists, shout, and lash out at people.
The keyword is tendency. We may feel like acting a certain way, but we don’t have to. We can feel anxious but act courageously. We can feel sad but act happily. We can feel angry but act calmly.
Feelings aren’t destiny.
We have veto power over whatever tendencies our feelings exhibit on us. No matter where the wind is blowing, we have the final say — we hold the rudder in our own hands. We can steer the ship in whatever direction we want, no matter how we’re feeling.
The Mature Human Being
Here’s a great quote I learned from reading Brian Johnson’s Philosopher Note on David K. Reynolds’ book Constructive Living:
“The mature human being goes about doing what needs to be done regardless of whether that person feels great or terrible. Knowing that you are the kind of person with that kind of self-control brings all the satisfaction and confidence you will ever need. Even on days when the satisfaction and confidence just aren’t there, you can get the job done anyway.”
The mature human being doesn’t get yanked around by his feelings. He goes about doing what needs to get done whether he feels like it or not.
Want to know a good example of such a mature human being?
In his book No Limits he describes how, between 1998 and 2003, he never took a day off in five years. Christmas? Pool. Thanksgiving? Pool. Birthdays? Pool.
His answer to whether he always felt like training throughout these years: “If I wasn’t in the right mood to practice, I got myself into that right mood.”
Do You Value Freedom? Do You Yearn For Success?
Then stop being the slave of your emotions.
Stop blindly following whatever tendencies your feelings exhibit on you.
Pick your values. Pick your goals. Pick your commitments. Act according to them, rather than your feelings.
Above all, resolve to do what’s right — whether you feel like it or not!
So true but then also sometimes important to listen to feelings and look after oneself and retreat to cave. Sometimes.
Hey Sarah, oh you’re absolutely right. Should have mentioned that somewhere.
I’m all for a mindful and receptive handling of emotions. For me, there’s a time and a place for investigating and letting go of emotions. And there’s a time and a place for neglecting emotions and just getting on with whatever needs to get done.
Thank You . I seem to be controlled by my thoughts and feelings . It was a great read .
Thanks, Kamal. If you want to learn more about creating a healthy distance between you and your thoughts/emotions, I highly recommend Russ Harris’ book “The Happiness Trap”. He talks about this quite a bit.