I have discovered over my many years of life that there are a few things that bother me. One, in particular, has bothered me more than others over the past thirty years. You may ask of me, “What could that be?” Well, I’m glad you asked!
What bothers me is that people in the USA continuously use the phrase “I feel like …” followed by some statement that is more of an opinion or other thought or statement rather than anything to do with emotions.
In my study of the English language, the word “feel” has always meant an expression of one emotions or emotional-driven ideas. Here’s an example: “I feel fine,” or “I feel hurt.” The word “feel” needs a direct modifier that relates to one’s emotions or “feelings.”
Then there’s the word “like.” That word should always be followed by an equal/parallel comparison to what comes before. For example, “That guy’s running style is like my brother’s walking style: weird.”
But here’s what I have often heard way too often: “I feel like John is not doing a good job,” or similar wording. But what they mean to say is, “I believe that John is not doing a good job,” or perhaps more accurately: “It is my opinion John is not doing a good job.” Although the speaker may have a particular emotional response to John’s work, the speaker is only expressing an opinion. He may have factual data for his view. But the person is only expressing thoughts or opinions, not emotions.
Here is what should have said, “I feel sad because I see that John has not been doing a good job based on his poor record.”
So, why do we tend to change a statement of opinion into a statement of emotional response? Well, In my opinion, an interesting phenomenon has occurred over the past thirty years that has become a major complicating factor in our language usage.
During the late 1980s, America saw a resurgence of interest in psychology and sociology through what we refer to today as the self-help movement. Tons of books filled the shelves of bookstores on such topics as “How to take care of yourself,” “How to be a better you,” etc. One of the major emphases of these books was a recognition of the importance of owning one’s own “feelings” or emotions.
Here’s the argument behind these assertions: If you express your emotions or “feelings,” then no one can argue with you. Other people do not know what you are feeling inside. They can only see the results. So, if you say, “I am sad,” no one can argue with you. The only possible thing they can say is, “No, you don’t.” And, of course, that would be absurd. Logical discussion cannot exist because of the element of emotion; logic and rationality are dismissed as irrelevant.
The logic behind this argument seemed flawless except for one overlooked and obvious problem: The human brain. Allow me to explain.
The human brain has a unique ability to twist ideas to its benefit. The brain can literally tell itself a lie, then turn around and believe every word of the lie. This statement may sound absurd on the face of it. But, if you, the reader, were truly honest with yourself, you would be compelled to agree with me. Remember that when I say “the brain,” I’m talking about the person.
Think about this. How many times have you believed something to be true then later find out that is wasn’t true. You would admit your mistake and then change your thinking about it. Right?
However, consider the following: Let’s say you deeply believed that you were a worthless person. Then someone came along and told you that you had worth, that you were simply a human being who makes mistakes. But your mistakes never make you a bad person. It only means you are human. Your first response would be to think the other person is only talking about themselves, not you.
Please believe me when I say that the above event happens many hundreds of times every day. The reason we as humans have trouble accepting other people’s “opinions” is that we have chosen (for whatever reason—and there could be millions of reasons—you have chosen to believe that you are worthless. What you have said to yourself is, “I feel worthless.” So, since you framed it in the form of an emotion, no one can argue with you. You “feel” that you are worthless.
The problem with this type of thinking is that your mind has convinced you to believe a lie. The statement “I feel worthless” is an incorrect statement, not because it is not true but rather because you worded it incorrectly. In reality, the thought, “I feel worthless” is an expression of an opinion, not an emotion. The proper wording should be I BELIEVE I am worthless.
Perhaps you think that I am the crazy one. Well, I’m not going to argue that point. Then again, that is an opinion—it is incorrect, but still an opinion.
The brain has tricked your mind into thinking “feeling worthless” is an emotion; therefore, no one can really argue with me. Thus, I must be worthless. When in reality, your brain has told you a lie using your knowledge against you. You believe “feeling worthless” is an expression of an emotion and unarguable. But, the assumption that worthless is an emotion is where the lie stands.
The truth is that “worthless” is not an emotion but an opinion. It is an opinion with no facts to back it up. Therefore, it must be a worthless opinion, or it is an incorrect opinion. Either way, the opinion of being worthless is up for debate. And the debate against “being worthless” is far stronger than any debate in favor.
But, what happens is that once your brain recognizes that your thoughts of worthlessness are baseless opinions, your brain opens up to the possibility that you are not worthless but truly worth others’ love and respect. The brain can handle logic. The brain has trouble handling a statement that appears false on the surface to be worth the time and effort to consider.
So, if you identify an opinion, or even a logical assumption, to be emotions, the brain moves that assumption into the sector of unarguable understandings. Thus the statement becomes a permanent part of your belief system. And that is the part of the brain that drives everything you do, think, and say. But, if you identify something as an opinion, your brain will allow it to be questioned and maybe even changed—if you so desire it so.
The human brain is an amazing organ that is almost endless in its potential for adaptation and change. The part that fascinates me is the brain’s ability to be trained in one way and later can overcome anything it deems as no longer necessary. I have witnessed changes and alterations in people that some would say was miraculous. Events like that reinforce my belief in an almighty God.
What am I talking about here? I am not reflecting on human traits that are controlled by our DNA or the elements like our lymphatic and respiratory systems. I write of those areas that are malleable such as our emotional responses, our opinions, and our rational thought processes. No one can change those elements about you.
However, If you want to change your opinion of someone, that person can’t stop you. They can offer you reasons and evidence that you should not. But, no one can force you to change your opinions. You may say you’ve changed your mind to convince that person to think you have. But your opinion may not change unless you decide to change.
But there is a small rock in the shoe of the brain, and this is your self-will. No one can stop you from changing your mind. And, no one can make you change your mind, either. Your mind is under your control; no one else’s. Your response may be, “But I can’t change the way I am.” But you know you can if you wanted to.
Now, here I must stop and remind you that much of what I say is, of course, my opinion. But it is my opinion based on years of study, research, and observation as a teacher. If I learned anything from my forty years in the classroom is that I cannot teach anyone anything. A teacher can only offer motivation and opportunity for the persons in the classroom to learn if they want to.
Even here in this article, all I can do is offer you a few facts and a lot of opinions. It is up to you to accept or reject or (maybe?) consider what is here. Hopefully, I have convinced you to be open to new ideas, new ways of thinking, and an opportunity to consider the possibilities I have presented.
Thank you for the opportunity to share a few thoughts you may wish to ponder.
The U S of A (and several other countries) is virtually closed down, it seems and most people are at home or in an empty office. My view is to simply take it as an opportunity do things put off until that time to get "around to it." Perhaps this is that time. And I have a few suggestions for you from my forthcoming book title, Take a Chance on Happiness due out later this year.
Engage other people you haven't had contact with for awhile. Simply pick up your phone and call them. Spend time chatting and catching up on your lives since the last time you were together.
Be inspired by the things around you. Pick up a book you've intended to read. Look through a magazine you've left on the coffee table for a year and thumb through it. Lots of ideas could easily jump out, if you allow them to. Perhaps got through a drawer or two you haven't opened in a long time and see what's there. You never know just what you'll find to do.
Get to know yourself better by spending time talking to a close friend. Bare yourself to them. Seek their advice and then listen to your friend carefully. You never know just what your life will be a month or two from now. Allow yourself to see your own faults and work on correcting them.
Make meaningful memories. One evening recently, my wife and I went out for a walk in our neighborhood. After that, we ordered a nice dinner from a local restaurant and drove to pick it up. When we got back to the house, we put a DVD in player, set up a card table and chairs, then ate our meals while watching a movie that we bought several months ago and never watched. After eating, we stopped the movie, put the food and dishes away, folded up the table and chairs and moved to the couch. We turned the movie back on and watched together. It was so much fun. Oh, by the way, we've been married over 52 years. What a memory we have of the two of us sitting together enjoying a movie--at our ages.
Express yourself creatively in some way. Most people have no idea just how creative they can be. We heard a news report that stated that when leaving your home, you should wear some kind of mask, even just a scarf would help. So, my lovely bride came up with several different ideas for making masks for us to wear when we leave the house. Some were rather silly, of course. But we both had fun wearing them and making our neighbors laugh--from a distance.
Chill out. It seems that most Americans seem to be so tightly wound that they have no idea what it means to relax. I know I've been that way at times and my wife seems that way most of the time. These last couple of weeks have been a real eye-opener for both of us. We have relaxed more, exercised more, and have enjoyed being together more than we both can remember. We have found the joy of being together. In a sense, we have both been reminded of just why it was we first got married: we really like to be with each other.
Hopefully, this short article has given you a few ideas of things to do at home with out strangling someone. Perhaps these few sentences have opened your eyes to the possibilities at are at your disposal right in front of you. Remember that happiness is a state of mind that you decide to be in.
Many years ago, I heard my dad say something I've never forgotten. He asked a lady at church, "How are you?" She replied, "Okay, under the circumstances." He smiled and said to her very nicely, "Ms. Agnes, what are you doing under the circumstances? You should get up and get on top. Be in charge of yourself and your circumstances."
Too often we let things or people around us govern how we feel about ourselves and our situations. When we do that, we are people out of control of ourselves and our lives. These times seem opportune, or perhaps any time for that matter, are good times to decide to take control of your life. Don't be under life. Be on top of your own life. Turn your frown upside down. Realize you are blessed just to be alive; and enjoy that fact!
Is it possible that you are doing too much? Well … yes, it is. Too much of anything isn’t good (You knew that already) and it’s entirely possible to overextend yourself in almost any situation.
If you focus on things that will benefit you now or in the long run, then you are on the right track. That doesn’t mean that you should do too much, however.
Here are 6 signs you are doing too much:
You’re Mentally and Physically Exhausted
Being a hard worker is admirable, but you want to give yourself time to recover and recuperate. If you can no longer function, then you’ve gone too far and have done too much.
Rick Hanson, Ph.D., a psychologist, Senior Fellow of the Greater Good Science Center at UC Berkeley, and New York Times best-selling author says, “Most of a person’s tasks, even all of them, could be individually rewarding and done for a good purpose, but taken as a whole they’re often too much. It’s certainly gotten this way for me.
This is interesting and maybe a way we have never thought of our similar circumstances. Perhaps you need to simply take a vacation or a break of any sort ASAP.
Herb Sennett writes about life and how to enjoy it more.