No, I’m not speaking about that “F” word. I’m going to address two different words beginning with the letter “f” and how they influence the decisions we make, our responses in any given situation, and how the outcome adds to or subtracts from our happiness and/or contributes to our anger. Those two words are “feelings” and “facts”. Let me explain.
We typically make decisions in life based on how we’re feeling* in regard to a person or set of circumstances. The other option we utilize are making fact-based choices. Here’s an example: I’m offered an exciting new job with a start-up company. I’ll be given a beautiful office, an impressive title, and a substantial increase in salary. I’m super excited and jump on the opportunity. Two months later, I’m unhappy and having second thoughts. “It’s not exactly what I had wanted to do and the hours are very long.” Although the person hiring me fully explained all of this prior to my acceptance, I was excited and hopeful and made a “feelings-based” decision rather than one based on actual facts. Allowing my feelings to override the reality of what the job entailed, I now find myself angry in my new set of circumstances.
Here’s another example: statistics prove that skateboarding leads to thousands of accidents a year, but feeling confident that I’m still young enough to master this adolescent sport, I set forth to prove my agility and bravery. However, I soon find myself livid and remorseful as I hobble into the emergency room an hour later with a broken ankle. And to make matters worse, I now have to cancel my skiing trip to Aspen.
Feelings are a critical component in any decision-making process. However, it is imperative to consider all of the facts involved as well. We needn’t make choices based merely on one or the other. By considering both aspects – the facts as well as the emotions – we are more likely to make sound decisions that are valid for years to come.
Facts can also influence feelings if we allow them to. In the case of this year’s presidential election, many people have already chosen the candidate they are going to vote for. Negative issues about their candidate do not persuade them to reconsider their choice. By either ignoring or excusing factual based information, they are able to maintain their enthusiasm and support of said individual. However, one’s denial does not change truth nor influence it in any way and eventually actuality emerges victorious. At some point, those who choose a candidate purely based on their emotional connection to them may eventually realize disillusionment as the consequences of such a decision concerning their candidate’s suspicious history, lack of trustworthiness, abhorrent actions, and so forth become a reality.
However, we can use facts to change how we feel. For example: you meet the man/woman of your dreams. Feelings between you are intense but red flags regarding their history of cheating, abuse, drunk driving, or such give you pause to rethink your choice to continue seeing them. Since one’s feelings are determined by their thoughts, what we say to ourselves about said truths ultimately determine how we feel. And feelings are the catalyst behind every choice we make. Through careful examination of the truths surrounding them, one can learn to be more objective in their assessment. When you change your internal dialogue – your thoughts – you ultimately determine how you feel. You can persuade yourself to consider your safety and the long-term impact this relationship could have on you. A change of heart directs you to end the relationship thus securing feelings of confidence and comfort that you make the right choice, which in turn thwarts off feelings of anger and any future remorse.
In certain circumstances it’s imperative to make decisions based on a rational thought process rather than one’s emotion. Choices that do not produce the end result we are seeking ultimately lead us to become frustrated, disappointed, hopeless, embarrassed or angry. To avoid making regrettable decisions, rely more heavily on actual concrete proof than pure emotion. The end result will be one that is satisfying, beneficial, and long-lasting. For the really critical decisions in life, it might be best to rely on facts because feelings can easily confuse us by clouding our rational thought process. Other times it could be the exact opposite. There is no hard-and-fast rule so use your best judgment. But never ever ignore the facts. They are your truth.
When making decisions in life, choose wisely. Once made, they can have long-term and far-reaching consequences not initially apparent. And every choice you make impacts not only yourself but the lives of those around you. Therefore, take great care in doing so.
*See T~E~C~O Magic in The Secret Side of Anger
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