Emotions are scarily powerful

base-jumping

They say we have nothing to fear but fear itself. This post is me admitting that up until now I’ve been making a huge mistake in the way I’ve been living my life: I’ve been letting negative emotions and fear dictate my choices.

I first started this blog in an effort to share my reading and learning on the process of decision-making, and a lot of what I’ve written about  is the question of whether to follow logic or intuition when making choices. I wanted the answer to be that it’s right to follow your intuition, to confirm that some of my past decisions were based on good solid intuition and not just fear and confusion – but it’s not, and they weren’t.

I’m not saying that these past choices were necessarily wrong, but I definitely let emotion get in the way of the decision-making process. I guess I dislike logic because sometimes it can go completely against feelings, and ultimately I want to feel happy. It’s scary how easy it is not to do something just because it feels uncomfortable in the moment – it’s surprisingly difficult to see past current emotions to a happier future.

There is something to be said for gut reactions (see my post ‘Logic versus intuition‘), but I’m starting to realise that my own gut feelings aren’t actually worth paying too much attention to! It’s all too easy to confuse discomfort and fear with a bad gut feeling.

I become irrational when I’m scared – I become defensive and make excuses, then later struggle to explain my actions. If you follow good old fashioned human logic then once negative emotions fade you’ve got something really solid to fall back on. Emotions aren’t permanent or fixed and, despite how strong they can be, they always fade.

A while ago I reviewed the book ‘The Chimp Paradox‘, and the more I think about it the more the model it teaches is perfect for learning how to get past fear and negative emotions. We need to remember that we can make a choice to act despite our emotions – fear truly is the only thing worth fearing because it stops us from making the most out of life.

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Rebecca Fraser of Career Avoidance 101 (a great blog – do check it out) recently wrote this post on fear, and I think there are more to come – I also love this quote on fear and courage.

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7 comments on “Emotions are scarily powerful

  1. emilysteezy says:

    I don’t think you should be too hard on yourself or write off your intuition just yet. You just need to learn to separate your intuition from your feelings… just because you feel scared of something doesn’t mean that your intuition can’t also tell you that that thing will be a good thing for you to do in the long run. And the fact that you’re realizing this means you are not doing too badly! It’s a process.

    And… here’s my post on fear! It seems to be a hot topic these days. http://wp.me/p2k91t-gh

    • You’re probably right – the thing I need to work on is separating the two, and listening to good intuition despite fear. Thanks for sharing your post, fear does seem to be a popular topic, which just goes to show that no-one is fearless! Learning to be comfortable with feeling scared and having faith that the outcome will be ok is great advice.

    • Emily! We basically wrote the same post. We Mainers think alike. Hot topic indeed. Thanks for sharing the link.

      • emilysteezy says:

        One of the fun things about blogging is that sometimes we discover that other people have the same ideas as us. And, for an instant that’s disappointing because we all like to think that our ideas are completely original. After I wrote my post I found this HBR one, which pretty much has the same thesis statement as ours: http://blogs.hbr.org/cs/2013/02/fear_means_go.html

        But it’s actually not disappointing because it’s cool to create these connections through sharing ideas in the “blogosphere”, and it’s fun to learn that people are thinking about the same kinds of things you are.

        Cool stuff.

        • Although I’m not surprised that my idea is unoriginal since I pulled the thesis from a book :), I am amazed how many of us are thinking this same thing and yet it took me until I was 27 to stumble upon the idea! The blogosphere is incredible, as you say. I don’t know what took me so long to become a part of it. Cool stuff indeed.

  2. I agree with Emily – intuition and gut feelings are highly important (I actually give them a big nod in the portion of this post (http://careeravoidance101.com/2013/02/10/time-time-everywhere-and-not-a-second-to-use/) that is titled “The Decision-Making Process isn’t As Strategic As You Think.”

    I think you’re 100% correct that you don’t want to let fear stop you, but sometimes we do have bad gut feelings that are worth listening to. Logic is too logical; it misses all of the subtle cues that can be highly meaningful in our decision-making process.

    The question is, how do we differentiate bad gut feelings from pure fear? That’s an excellent question…I think you just inspired a new post!

    Thank you for linking to my blog and for your kind words about it. Your support mean more than I can say. (And, yes, more fear posts to come!)

    • I’m starting to think that once I learn to differentiate intuition from fear maybe the mistake I’m making is not trusting my instincts enough and sticking with them – I always worry there’s not enough logic to my choices. Maybe I’m going wrong by questioning everything so much! Once I can be certain my gut feelings aren’t led by fear then hopefully I can pay more attention to the useful things they’re telling me.. I’ll definitely be paying close attention if you decide to cover this issue in a future post!

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