If my parents had instructed me to do something and I said: “I don’t feel like it”, their response would have been predictable. Here are a few likely options:
“I didn’t ask you how you felt, I am telling you what to do.”
“I don’t care how you feel, I care that you do as I say.”
“Shut up and get busy.”
Surely the world would be in chaos if everyone ran around only doing what they FEEL like doing. As far as it went, I believe my parental units wanted to instill obedience and the capacity to do hard things in their offspring. There is value here but I’m wondering if additional conversation focusing on the nature of feelings might also be helpful.
Our feelings matter — even the inconvenient ones. On a retreat last year I went rappelling and at the top of the cliff I DID NOT FEEL LIKE STEPPING OFF INTO THE ABYSS. But I was participating with a group of friends and we had committed to do this significantly scary thing together. After the guides suited us up with all manner of straps and protective gear I remember distinctly my friend Kathy turning to me and saying, “I am not going to lie, I am freaking out. This is scary.” And that gave the rest of us permission to agree.
It also gave us the courage to continue.
There are several appropriate responses to the “I don’t feel like its” that come our way. Ignoring our feelings, denying them, repressing them, suppressing them – NONE of those are viable options. Maturity and good mentoring teach us how to manage the “I don’t feel like its….”
Here are some viable options: name the fears, own them, figure out the appropriate response to them in a given situation, deal with them, process them, respond rather than react to them – to name a few. I haven’t seen it work well for folks who pretend their way through healing and recovery. For the next few posts let’s talk about what works when it comes to being brave and making necessary changes – even when we do not feel like it.