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  • Writer's pictureJoan M Sotelo LMFT, LPC

Are my feelings in control or am I in control? Who’s steering the ship?

What is the true role of my emotions? Read along and find out how to properly use your emotions as a valuable asset.

I’ve been told all my life,: “just do what feels good to you.” And “What do you feel like doing?”’ “Listen to your feelings” Growing up in a family that showed how to operate based on emotions and reacting to every emotion that arose taught me that emotions are the ruling force that should dictate our lives. Throughout my personal experience in life, in counseling many people, and reading many many books, I have come to understand that letting our emotions dictate our lives usually leads to disastrous results. It does not produce more joy, peace, and harmony but instead produces more chaos and instability in our lives. 

So are we supposed to ignore our emotions? No! Emotions are incredibly valuable and in order to live healthy emotional lives we must allow our emotions to be seen, heard, and understood. But we must understand the proper role of emotions. 

Emotions are signals and bring valuable information that helps us understand our needs. They are meant to be heard, understood and then thoughtfully analyzed to see what we need and what we should do about them. 

There are two ways to operate as we go along our life journey. I can either live being controlled by my emotions and allow my feelings to dictate what I say and how I act; or I can be the manager of my feelings by intentionally deciding how I respond to my emotions. 

This is what happens when we let our feelings be in control…. It is like navigating in the ocean without a Capitan to direct the ship. When our emotions dictate our thoughts and behavior we will end up being swayed by the waves of emotions and find ourselves in places where we do not want to be.

When we let our feelings be in control we become reactive. Most of the time this means that we are activating our fight or flight response and simply reacting based on survival instincts. Reacting to our emotions may makes us feel good or satisfied in the moment, but most of the time they will not lead us to produce the results that we truly desire. For example it may feel good to follow my feelings and eat a third slice of apple pie (which I personally love!) but I will most likely regret it later and it will not produce the long term results that I want in my physical health. Here is another example where this might show up; it may feel very satisfying to yell at my spouse when I feel upset that he did not take out the trash like he said he would… but it will not produce the respectful and loving relationship that I truly want to have. 

So… when we take control of the ship and navigate it, we now allow ourselves to be stable and dictate the course of our actions despite what the seas of our emotion may be doing.

Emotions lead to current gratification where as intentional choices lead to long term satisfaction. 

I have come to understand that listening to my feelings may feel good in the moment but to be honest, feelings do not have my best interest in mind to help me reach what I truly want to produce in my life. They will persuade me to do what feels good right now whether it produces good later or not. Do not be deceived! Your feelings are temporary, your choices to be intentional are what will keep you on the right path to have healthy emotional stability and healthy relationships. 

It is important that we embrace the truth of our emotions: they do not have to be in control. I can choose my attitude and state of mind by choosing how I perceive the world around me and the thoughts that I dwell on. 

I leave you with this thought...

Do you want to hand over control of the ship to the waves of your emotions, or are you ready to step into the captain’s seat, set the sails, and move towards the destination that you truly want long term? 

The ship of your life is already at sea, what will you choose? 

If you found this blog helpful please like it, let us know, and share it with others! 

And… if you would like us to help you accomplish this in your life send us a message so we can chat about how we can help! 

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