A Case of the Feels

I feel like it’s time to deal with an ideology that is becoming far too prevalent – being indecisive. To me it’s like watching a squirrel cross a road; there is so much second guessing of one’s self that more times than not the squirrel ends up a flattened splatter of road kill.

In other areas of nature, indecisive prey gets devoured. Indecisive predators goes hungry. Despite what any of us wants to believe about our touchy feely selves, life is black and white. It is, or it isn’t.

Don’t get me wrong, there is nothing wrong with emotion. Real men feel. Real men express their feelings freely and with great passion. Sometimes too much passion, but that is a rant for another day.

What I’m talking about today is falling back on “I feel” as an out for the faint-hearted, those that fear rejection, those that have no solid sense of self.

We are not a decisive people. Nobody wants to commit to a thought, or a belief. People are afraid to stand up for themselves for fear of offending any that may disagree. Since when did disagreeing with someone breed fear? Disagreements can bring about the greatest advances. Science has proven this. You don’t have to be afraid of people disagreeing with you.

We are not a decisive people. As a people and as individuals, 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, we’ve all done it, but now that I know better you won’t hear me breaking out a case of the feels. I will stand by what I say, until you show me a better point of view. Believing in yourself doesn’t mean blind ignorance or sheer ego; it simply means having confidence in your own wisdom and experience while still looking around you for the input of others. You are not out to dominate others; you are simply not going to tolerate being dominated any more.

“I feel like this is the right direction for the project.” “I feel like we should re-examine our priorities.” “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 statement is a flag planted in the ground, 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 take this path for the project, and now.” Now, we say “I feel like”.

Or even better, stop prefacing your sentences at all. Why do you feel the need to explain yourself to others? If your opinion is being asked for, obviously it is sought after. Ever think there is a reason for that? And even if not asked for, if you’ve been asked to the table then you have as much a voice to be heard as anyone else there!

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 have 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 this is the right direction for the project.” 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 happiness. We believe getting married, having children, working 9 – 5 is the secret to happiness. What happens then when we still are not completely happy and have those things? Even then we impose our own fears onto those established systems. Men cannot marry men, sons are preferred over daughters, good employees are in early and stay late; the list goes on.

If you have anything that brings you happiness, cleave to it and never let it go. Ever.

Our religious systems, or lack thereof, are another example. Nothing more needs to be explained there methinks.

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 avoiding hard decisions because of fear, stop it. If you’re not allowing yourself to fully embrace the awesome that you are because of self-doubts, don’t.

You are awesome. You are powerful. You are worthwhile. Stand tall. Be happy. You deserve it.

Go big or go home.

* based on the article found at http://www.patheos.com/blogs/badcatholic/2010/11/stop-saying-i-feel-like.html

4 responses to “A Case of the Feels

  1. Well said Roc, but I think you missed an angle.

    Statements made starting “I feel…” cannot be challenged, but equally cannot be supported by argument, except by resort to Ego: “I am more important than you so therefore what I feel is more valid than what you think” It is the height of arrogance as it imposes your subjective view of the world on others, and it cannot be argued against objectively.

    I agree that a feeling is something that happens to you, while a thought is something you create. A created thing can be changed by it’s creator if an argument for doing so is compelling enough, you can’t help ‘feeling’ and have little option but to ignore them, listen to them, or act on them. Expressing a thought automatically suggests that you can have your mind changed, expressing a feeling is just displaying that you’ve been overcome by something you can’t control.

    So using “I Feel…” is not only the limp and unassertive way of expressing yourself, it is also, ultimately, a very subtle form of tyranny. “I Think…”, on the other hand, is an expression of the act of creation, as you say, and a more democratic form of expression through the possibility of reasoned argument.


  2. One problem with decisiveness is that it needs to go hand in hand with the freedom to revise a decision if it turns out to be the wrong one.

    I also have a different take on “stop me if I am wrong”: for me it is an expression of decisiveness: “I am likely wrong, but to the best of my knowledge I’d rather do $THIS, than do nothing”. But it is also a challenge to the others: “If you know better, Speak Up!”

  3. My own experience of “Now stop me if I’m wrong” is it comes from people in positions superiour to me who definitely don’t me me to stop them. In many respects it is a term used in arrogance that they cannot possibly be wrong.

  4. Both points are valid of course, and there is the inherent danger of disregarding the opinion of others, or arrogantly presenting yourself in a way that is passive/aggressive and says “I don’t actually want your opinion” without the words being uttered.

    If we look at it in regards to Star Wars and the Force, both of those are symptoms of the dark side – anger, fear, aggression, the dark side are these. Being timid and afraid is just as bad as being arrogant and aggressive.

    A Jedi craves not these things. 😉

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