“Yeah, I say if it feels good, do it.”
– Chief Wiggum, The Simpsons
One of the biggest areas of confusion I see when people start exploring principles-based coaching is the area of feelings. They’ve often been told that they should “find a good feeling”, that “deeper feelings will let you know what to do”, or that they should “wait until you have the right feeling”. As a result of this well-meaning but ambiguous advice, they sometimes get paralysed while they wait for “the right feeling” to come. Or they dive into analysis of their feelings, trying to discern what their feelings are telling them to do so they can use them as a basis for decision-making. In the worst cases, it can end up boiling down to a kind of “If it feels good, do it – if it feels bad, don’t” philosophy which can lead to passivity and victimhood. In this article, you’re going to discover a discriminator that will help you clear up this misunderstanding. In the process, it’s going to take a lot off your mind, and have you taking action where you may have been stuck until now.
Your feelings are an incredibly precise and accurate gauge or signal. They’re an aspect of your neurophysiology that has evolved over hundreds of thousands of years, to help you live, thrive and survive here on planet Earth. Your body has countless feedback loops and signalling systems to govern things as diverse as body temperature, hydration and pH level. Just as the fuel gauge and speedometer in your car give you precise feedback about fuel level and speed respectively, your internal “gauges” each give you feedback on one thing:
Your feelings are a reflection of your Thought-generated perceptual reality in this moment.
Your car’s speedometer is an expert on one thing and one thing alone: the speed the wheels are turning at. It can’t tell you anything about your car’s fuel level, its RPMs or the engine temperature. Your speedometer doesn’t know anything about those things. In fact, if you mistakenly believed that it could tell you about these things, you’d soon get into trouble.
Your feelings are an expert on one thing and one thing alone: The principle of Thought taking form in this moment. Your feelings can’t tell you anything about your past, your future, what other people think of you or what you’re like as a person. Your feelings don’t know anything about those things. In fact, if you mistakenly believed that feelings could tell you about these things, you’d soon get into trouble.
But here’s the thing: we all sometimes get tricked into believing our feelings are telling us about something other than Thought in the moment. We believe our feelings are letting us know about future events or past experiences. We believe they’re letting us know about our progress or our prospects, our relationships or our achievements. We believe they’re letting us know about future glories or indignities, about the path we’ve trodden or the road ahead. This is what I call the ‘outside-in illusion’; the mistaken belief that we’re feeling something other than the principle of Thought taking form, moment to moment in our consciousness.
We all fall into the outside-in illusion from time to time. When we do, our heads fill up with contaminated, outside-in thinking as we make mental to-do lists and try to strategise our way forward. But the outside-in illusion is just that; an illusion. It doesn’t really exist. We haven’t evolved to thrive in a world that doesn’t exist; we’ve evolved to live, thrive and survive in reality. And the moment you fall out of the outside-in misunderstanding, reality is exactly where you land. And when you fall out of your contaminated thinking and into reality, you find that you know what to do, and what not to do. This is sometimes called “common sense” or “wisdom”. And it’s the most natural thing in the world. So here’s a question you might find useful:
Where do you think your feelings are coming from?
If it genuinely seems like they’re coming from anywhere other than the ebb and flow of Thought in this moment, you’ve been tricked into believing in a world that doesn’t exist. And the moment you wake up to that, even as a possibility, you’re on your way back to reality. The moment you insightfully realise that you’re living in the feeling of Thought in the moment, and not what you’ve been thinking about, you’ll wake up in the here and now. And you’re optimised for the here and now. This is where you thrive. Right here. Right now. Welcome.