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nikipedia's avatar

Have you ever struggled to align your feelings on a topic with your beliefs/values on the same topic?

Asked by nikipedia (27300 points ) January 22nd, 2012

I have an issue in my life that is causing pretty massive emotional distress due to a conflict between how I feel about something and how I think about it.

I can imagine other scenarios in which this might happen—for instance, suppose a good friend lands a dream job while you’re unemployed. You might really wish to be happy for your friend, but feel too envious to be able to actually be happy.

Or for another example from my own life—I really, really hate public speaking. It’s important for my career and and I wish I could look at it as a great opportunity to get helpful feedback. But in reality, I feel overwhelmingly, irrationally terrified every time I have to do it.

Have you ever had anything like this in your life, where your feelings and goals or beliefs were in conflict? How did you resolve it? Or did you?

Important: I am not asking for advice about either of the situations I described. One is imaginary and does not even exist. They are examples to clarify the question.

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16 Answers

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Neizvestnaya's avatar

Yes. In general, I’m not a believer in most people with addiction issues overcoming them. This was a huge obstacle in a relationship of mine I discovered addiction and substances abuse in the person who’d been courting me and who I thought was so wonderful and full of promise.

As much as I felt the PC thing to do was to give them the benefit of a doubt and to be supportive of them wanting/trying to clean up, much of the time I was angry, suspicious and trying to get away. I totally sucked at bringing the two things into something emotionally workable.

digitalimpression's avatar

Absolutely. My dream has always been music, but to this day I am irrationally terrified to sing or perform in public. It is a hurdle that I would necessarily have to overcome in order to be successful, but I haven’t found a way to overcome it yet.

It is incredibly frustrating.

Blackberry's avatar

I have a philosophy of reality, and a philosophy of theory. Pretty much anything is debatable in theory, but due to society, some things seem black and white.

Take Simone_De_Beauvoirs older thread about why people think cheating is so horrendous: pretty much everyone had no answer except for “It breaks trust and it’s wrong!” There was no way for people to think anything past this one thing. But if we deconstructed the argument, we would find a plethora of material to discuss, but we’ll never reach that material because everyone seems to have a reality they think is objective.

wundayatta's avatar

We are humans, which means we aren’t logic machines. Our emotions have more power than logic most of the time. Only those with almost impossibly strong mental strength can let mind win over humanity all the time.

When my emotions go against my logic, I have learned it’s a good idea to pay attention to my emotions. It means that there is likely something I have no been including in my logic, and because of that, my logic may be wrong.

If I were you, I would look carefully at what my emotions are telling me, and try to see if there is some reason to change my thoughts or principles. I, personally, trust my emotions. I think they have an underlying logic that I don’t understand yet. I need to study what is going on more carefully so that I can understand my emotions. Sometimes when I study, I find that my logic was incomplete. Sometimes though, I find a way to convince my emotions to join my head.

It is never going to be easy to overrule your emotions. They are deep inside you—much deeper than logic. They are there for a reason: they provide a survival advantage. Disregard that at your peril.

So pay attention. Let yourself ruminate on it. If your emotions and your logic are at odds, don’t assume the logic is correct. You may not have all the data you need. And if you ever wonder why people might have a double standard—perhaps it is because they are trying to reconcile emotions with logic. Our bodies know far more than we are aware of, I believe. So I think it’s worth paying attention to emotions and not just dismissing them as illogical.

marinelife's avatar

Yes, I have had this kind of conflict. Usually, my logical mind is correct. My emotions are left over from childhood wounds or defense mechanisms.

It does help to try to understand where the emotional response is coming from.

Simone_De_Beauvoir's avatar

Of course I’ve been there…generally, I just say to myself “I am feeling contradictory emotions and that’s okay…I believe my principles are important and I will steer my life to align with these principles”...would it have been easier sometimes for my interpersonal relationships to not ask for an open relationship or to not discuss so much the gender non-conforming issue or to speak less or philosophical ideologies? Yes…but I stand by my ideas more than I stand by people’s emotions.

Jeruba's avatar

Yes. A really big example is that I wholeheartedly believe in a woman’s right to end an unwanted pregnancy, but I nonetheless feel an emotional revulsion toward abortion.

One of the things I’ve had to learn by the slow and painful route is that you can’t use rational tools to deal with emotional issues. They don’t work. I always thought my rationality was my best tool and wanted to use it for everything, but that just got me into trouble. Those conflicts have to be resolved another way.

Coloma's avatar

Not for a very long time, I’m happy to say.
I’m pretty quick to reconcile my thoughts/feelings when need be.

Earthgirl's avatar

Yes I have. The biggest conflict between my idealistic notions and real feelings concerns how I approach competition. I want to be the kind of person who is good at working in a team but I sometimes feel threatened and need to protect my turf. I hate to order people around and I hate to be ordered around. I am very sensitive to the games people play in business situations where they pretend to be all about working as a team and then stab you in the back or try to one up you. I find it hard to be trusting and share my sources. I find it hard to mentor because I feel insecure about my position. I wish I could be a better person, more in line with my ideals.

Earthgirl's avatar

I just wanted to add that here is the way I resolve my conflict. Since I am forced to compete with others and I cannot control their behavior or know their motives, I concentrate on my own behavior and motives. I need to feel like I have a sense of integrity. I am not above using an advantage over someone as long as I have come by it fairly. Maybe I put in extra hours, do more research, work harder at developing my work relationships or take classes to upgrade my skills. But I will only do what I consider to be fair competition. I will not spy, cheat or lie to get an unfair advantage. I will not spread rumors to discredit someone. I will not subtly try to undercut them or talk them down to other people. If they try to do this to me I find it hard to fight back but I refuse to fight fire with fire. I want my work to speak for itself.

smilingheart1's avatar

Yes. I would like to start a “special friends” relationship with a man who is married. We have known each other for years and are very fond of each other. This man’s wife is mentally ill and they have not lived as man and wife for nearly twenty years. My beliefs tell me “no” but my feelings tell me yes. I have struggled with this for over six months.

nikipedia's avatar

Thanks for the answers so far. These have been really helpful to me.

augustlan's avatar

Absolutely. I don’t seem to have control over my emotional, knee-jerk, first instinct reactions. However, I have (mostly) learned to keep them inside my head until my logical side kicks in. An example for me is the feeling of jealousy in a relationship. I have to give myself a little time to determine if there’s a legitimate reason for me to feel jealous. If I decide it’s not rational, I don’t act on my feeling. Most of the time. Nobody’s perfect!

MollyMcGuire's avatar

A million times. But, instead of trying to analyze, I just do. I just make myself do whatever it is and it’s easier the next time. This is not a unique circumstance.

AnonymousWoman's avatar

Unfortunately, yes. Asking questions can help a lot. So can the attitude “Just do it anyway.” I find knowing other people have experienced the same thing helps me a lot. I used to be terrified of speaking in front of a group outside of my family until I realized that many other people have felt that way and/or still do feel that way. That in itself helped me be more comfortable with talking to an audience. Asking several questions on another Q&A site and finding out that there are people who really do care about what I have to say (it showed in how they chose to respond to me) helped, too.

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