I am having lots of feelings recently - an action-packed six months of change will do that to a person. However, I constantly struggle with what to do with those feelings. As an ENFP*, my
primary mode of living is focused externally, where I take things in primarily via intuition. My secondary mode is internal, where I deal with things according to how I feel about them, or how they fit in with my personal value system." -
In other words, I act because I feel. Sometimes, I don't know how I'm feeling until I look at what I'm doing. If I'm avoiding something, I probably feel ambivalent, scared, or unprepared. If I'm reaching out to someone, I'm feeling lonely or in need of connection. If I'm not motivated to do much of anything, I'm exhausted or burned out. As a result, it is difficult for me to separate my feelings from my actions and that can lead to trouble.
Recognizing that feelings aren't actions empowers me to understand them separately.
Not every feeling deserves an action. Louis CK touches on this in the below video, but we as humans tend to do things to avoid sitting in our feelings. And sometimes feeling the feeling is all the action we need.
Asking "Am I doing this thing because I want to do it or because I'm having a feeling?" allows us all to minimize our negative actions and get in touch with what we're feeling. The answers aren't easy or instant, but taking the moment to reflect and ask the question creates an opportunity to ensure the consequences of your actions are the consequences you want.
Feelings don't have consequences, the actions we take as a result of those feelings do.
You can be angry at someone without yelling; you can be attracted to someone without acting on it; you can be sad without hurting yourself. When we turn those feelings into actions that we can't take back, trouble happens. And that's not always a negative: break up with someone who makes you feel terrible; tell someone whom you can't stop thinking about how you feel; indulge in a guilty pleasure that makes you happy. This is not a call for inaction - it is a request to recognize that your feelings are not your actions. Each should be acknowledged and considered as separate parts of the whole. As a particular friend is tired of hearing me say,
Feel your feelings. Act in your best interest.
*P.S. This is a really accurate description of me (or how I see myself, at least), in case you were wondering.