YOUR FEELINGS DON’T MATTER
Listen, I’m just a guy.
I was born with testosterone, a propensity for growing hair on my back, and a lack of vocabulary to explain my feelings.
And what I can’t explain I don’t discuss.
And yet I DO have feelings (despite what my ex-wife believes) but I have neither the training nor the skills to explain those feelings.
And perhaps, because of my lack of emotional expression, I’ve learned to mistrust what my feelings sometimes tell me. My emotional decision-making has pushed away some great women and I’ve seen plenty of needy gals chasing douchie guys.
So with that I say this: don’t trust your feelings.
Go ahead and ask your “feelings” for dating advice, I dare you.
“I’ve been best friends with this girl for years but she just doesn’t seem to get the hint that I’m really into her. Hanging out all the time is just killing me! Maybe I should just spill my guts and tell her how I REALLY feel about her…”
“My first few dates with this guy have gone so great! I just wish he would open up more and talk about his feelings… that way I could relax and not feel so tense and nervous… maybe I should ask him where he sees this relationship going?”
Guys: attraction is about feelings, not logic. Tension is a feeling… you know that feeling you have when you don’t know if she likes you? Don’t try to rid yourself of that tension by TALKING it out with her. Instead USE that tension to build her attraction… by teasing her, flirting, being playful and having FUN! The mistake too many guys make is that they try to escape this feeling, this tension, and in doing so they ruin any feelings she might be developing.
Girls: you can’t fix your new boyfriend by forcing him to talk about his feelings. That TENSION you feel, that not knowing, that’s a GOOD thing! Instead appreciate that if he’s WITH you it’s because he WANTS to be with you. Enjoy him, and show him how to enjoy his time with you. You can take more time to get “logical” and “talky” once your relationship has blossomed and developed, but wait… don’t trust the feeling you have to spill your guts.
FEELINGS ARE BIO “LOGICAL”
Let’s get nerdy for a moment.
It seems that our human brain has developed into three areas: our reptilian brain, our limbic/mammalian brain, and our neocortex.
The oldest part our brain is the stump in the back that folds out from our spines into our skulls and it controls our vital functions like heart rate, breathing, balance, etc. We might call this our LIZARD BRAIN because it’s compulsive and see’s the world in black and white – life or death – flight or fight.
Then, over time, we evolved our LIMBIC SYSTEM which grew over top of our lizard brain. This mammalian brain is judgmental, hormonal and emotional which includes the amygdala, hippocampus and the hypothalamus.
On top of all of that our brains blossomed into two large hemispheres that give us language, abstract thought, imagination and consciousness. This is our neocortex and it’s able to learn and think. It’s flexible and helps give us identities and beliefs and culture.
Trine Brain Theory: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Triune_brain
Three brains forced into once skull, all sharing one body and it’s functions.
Here’s the conflict – just because we’re aware and logical (neocortex) doesn’t mean our emotions are too (reptilian and mammalian brain.)
Our logical brain might think “I called that girl last night and she didn’t answer, I guess she was busy” but our limbic system might decide to panic, causing us to worry and fret.
Our ancient brain wants us to make babies and avoid rejection even if our logical brain knows better.
Basically how we FEEL doesn’t always agree with what we THINK.
It’s not logical how the male responds instantly to certain imagery – it’s biological.
Here’s an interesting article on the biology of emotions.
Egyptian physicians believed the heart was the site of consciousness. They had no concept that the brain was associated with feeling, thinking or other functions. For them, brains were for eating. It wasnt until the Greco-Roman period that the notion of the brains connection with thought and feeling was introduced, but even then, the idea that the heart was the seat of passionate emotions persisted.
~Jack Thompson, Ph.D., professor in the department of psychology and psychobiology at Centre College, Danville, Ky., and author ofPsychobiology of Emotions
EMOTIONS DON’T CARE ABOUT LOGIC
Growing up comes from dealing with these types of inner conflicts: feeling one way and thinking something completely opposite and yet making decisions within this conflict.
Being mature and strong requires you to accept that this type of inner conflict is “okay.” It happens and it’s fine.
Nature wants us to fight and love and make babies, but our current social structure no longer requires these panicked emotional responses with every social encounter.
We logically understand that we won’t be killed if a woman rejects us, but our limbic system doesn’t seem to realize that yet. Instead the average guy becomes filled with fear and tension and panic… perhaps something most women don’t really appreciate.
Our dating confidence and success comes from handling our inner battles – fear and panic vs logic and rational thought.
It’s easy for me to say “ignore your feelings” and yet they blur our vision and clamp our mouths shut. And hopefully you can become aware of the inner tricks being played out by your nervous system – your feelings can’t be trusted.
BELIEFS BUILT ON LIES
Unfortunately even logic can seem to fail us sometimes.
Most often how we FEEL confuses how we THINK and because of our feelings we make terrible assumptions and great leaps in logic.
How often have you assumed the worst about someone when you were really upset?
Or made terrible dating decisions because you felt overwhelmed with insecurities or nervousness?
What are the most common mistakes we make?
We make assumptions and we take things personally.
When we make assumptions we skip logic for the emotional pay off, like feelings of righteousness or indignation while “taking things personally” is exactly the same.
If someone dumps you do you keep perspective? Do you realize that they have their own needs and desires and that they have every right to find someone they prefer to connect with?
Or do you take the emotional road of self-pity, self-blame, and depression?
Do you realize that it’s okay to feel crappy and disappointed without it MEANING something?
It’s okay to feel like crap when someone breaks up with you. It’s NOT okay to then believe the world is ending, that you’re a fat pig nobody will ever love, and that the opposite sex is to blame for all the horrors of the world.
Here’s the lie: feeling like crap doesn’t mean you ARE crap.
Your feelings will lie to you.
The key is to accept feeling crappy without giving it deeper meaning. The key is to accept your feelings so that they can run their course.
Think of your emotions like the weather. It just happens and that’s life. There’s not always some deeper reason for it and it’s futile to try to fight it.
And when it comes to dating sometimes other people need different things than we do, that’s just how it is.
IT TAKES GUTS
Don’t get me wrong… our guts have wisdom.
If logic comes from the head, and feelings come from the heart then they meet in the middle in our guts.
It’s the combination of our heads and our hearts that creates inner wisdom. The more mature you are the more you rely upon your head AND your heart.
But why is it so easy to ignore our heads when our feelings tell us something different?
I think it’s because we’re trapped in bodies of flesh and blood. Our old lizard and mammalian brain reacts to the world far faster than our new logical brain.
Our emotions win the race because our unconscious brain is doing things before our conscious brain is even aware of it. Our emotions wrap us in a cozy blanket of oxytocin and adrenalin (oxytocin is a powerful hormone that acts as a neurotransmitter in the brain that plays a huge role in pair bonding, dating, parenting, etc.)
The lesson here is to have the strength to wait out the highs and lows of emotional upset before making decisions.
Drinking and driving. When you’re drunk you can’t rely upon logical decisions because your logical brain is battling other issues (like walking and talking and seeing).
Dieting. If I chose to eat based on how I FEEL I’d never escape the wall of pizzas and ice-cream containers I’d be drowning in. Instead I have to ignore how I feel and take the powerful choice to eat what I KNOW is good for me.
Dating. What do you do when you’ve already sent them three text messages and they haven’t replied to any of them? You might feel that a cute and funny follow-up text message might smooth over those last three creepy messages, but you’d be wrong.
Stalking. Should you spend a few more hours clicking through your ex’s facebook friends list hoping to find more photos that prove they were cheating on you? Or should you be in that hot yoga class sweating off that stress while your superior poses attracts forth ten new dating opportunities? Only your guts know for sure…
He hasn’t called in a few hours? Ignore your feelings and don’t call him.
She seems to be leaning away? Ignore your feelings and lean away too.
He keeps flirting and you don’t know if he likes you? Ignore your feelings, he does.
She smiled at you from across the room? Ignore your feelings and go say “hi.”
HAVE SOME PERSPECTIVE
What’s the cost of ignoring logic for an emotional rush?
Well, the more you ignore her signs of disinterest the more humiliating it becomes. By chasing her you keep digging yourself into an emotional hole that destroys your self-respect and confidence.
Or perhaps you stay with that guy because your heart whispers, “it’s way too painful to tell mom that he’s been cheating on me, and besides he’s really sorry now… plus if I forgive him he’s going to finally see how amazing I am as a girlfriend and we’ll live together in total love and respect forever!”
Have you ever looked back after a hard rejection and realized that you were ignoring all the red flags because you were blinded by your emotions?
Nearly 100 percent of us will never win the lottery. And chasing someone who’s not into us is EXACTLY like playing the lottery except the cost of playing leaves us lonely, self absorbed, immature, and addicted to the emotional highs and lows.
When in doubt ignore your feelings.
Try these steps when you’re in a tough spot and you need to make a good romantic decision:
(S)top and relax
You shouldn’t drive when you’re drunk and you shouldn’t make decisions when you’re high on emotions. So take a breath and relax. Put all thinking on the back burner until you’ve escaped any emotional highs or lows.
Give yourself permission to make decisions that are beneficial for YOU. It’s easy to martyr yourself in order to do what’s best for someone else you love… instead realize that you can’t help others effectively unless you’ve empowered yourself to be healthy and safe.
So make sure you’re the first priority on your decision list.
(A)sk someone smarter than you
This is why having an older wiser mentor is so great in romantic decision making – because they have the perspective you might not have. When someone else has no emotional ties to your decision-making they can help give you the best non-emotionally based advice.
(R)eview all options
It’s easy to think about the options that are most exhilarating (like calling that girl again, or texting that guy one more time) but let’s not forget ALL of the available options. When you take the time to review all the options it helps you to remember those boring options (like NOT calling that girl one more time, and NOT texting that guy a million more times.)
There really are GOOD options that seem boring but which bring about the BEST outcomes.
It’s okay to make bad decisions, if you’re willing to learn from them. The worst thing you can do is blame someone or something else for your choices.
Take responsibility for your actions because that’s how you learn, grow and mature. When you blame others you’re only hurting yourself.
Here are my final thoughts: your feelings don’t have to dictate your choices and your good choices will always improve how we feel!