How you feel is not a reliable indicator of what you can do.
We’re going to not feel capable of doing lots of things…that we totally can do.
Our feelings are important— they contain information for us that shouldn’t be ignored— but they are not fail-safe guides to our capabilities.
This is why it drives me UP A WALL when I see personal growth teachers instruct their students that their feelings are NEVER WRONG, or their intuition is ALWAYS ON POINT.
That’s simply not the case.
Our feelings are designed to raise flags for us. They set off alarms. They bring our attention to things out there in the world we need to pay attention to, or else we might experience negative consequences.
But the fact that our feelings bring attention to some things doesn’t necessarily mean that our feelings have accurately gauged how dangerous or important those things are to us.
Your feelings will sometimes tell you you can’t handle something.
Your feelings will sometimes tell you something is beyond your capacity to do or handle.
Your feelings will sometimes tell you that pain you are experiencing at one particular moment is unbearable— that if you don’t escape this pain, you’re going to somehow break.
These feelings shouldn’t be ignored— but they should not be uncritically accepted as true, either.
I just ran my fourth marathon. Around mile fifteen or so of any marathon, trust me, you’re going to have some intense feelings.
You’re going to feel like you need to collapse.
You’re going to feel like you need to throw up.
You’re going to feel like signing up to run this stupid race may be the worst decision you’ve ever made.
None of those things you feel at mile 15 of a marathon are true, mind you…but believe me, they will feel true— CONVINCINGLY true— at the moment.
When I hit this point, I remember vividly, I was alone out there on the course. There weren’t any runners in my immediate vicinity; it was just me out there on the road, with the sun, the wind, my own thoughts, and my own footsteps.
Remember: your feelings have a tendency to become outsized, to become exaggerated and dramatized, when you’re alone.
Remember as well: your feelings will often point you toward the worst case scenario, rather than the most likely scenario.
The reason for this is straightforward: our feelings are only interested in our survival. They want us staying the hell away from things that might end our existence— and they will always err on the side of caution in this project.
Understand: this doesn’t mean your feelings are NEVER right.
It doesn’t mean that you shouldn’t pay attention to what your feelings or intuition say.
But what it does mean is that you shouldn’t make your feelings your sole source of information or decision-making.
Your gut instincts may well be superb. But they are still not designed to be the only way you evaluate what to do next.
When you are in the midst of a project that will test your endurance— like a marathon— don’t believe everything you feel.
This is true in recovery as well as in marathons.
Your feelings are valuable. They are also drama queens.
Don’t rely on them exclusively.
Use your feelings in combination with your thinking, with your experience, with your spirituality, and with your training.
That’s how you finish a race.
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