When Feelings Fail

March 12, 2013 — 1 Comment


My feelings failed this morning.

Fighting feelings

Fighting feelings

Truth be told, they fail every morning. For the last six weeks or so, my alarm has been set for 5am. Before you get impressed by that, you have to know that setting an alarm and getting up are two entirely different things. I’ve had too many mornings where I got out of bed long enough to turn off my alarm, feel miserable, and go back to sleep.

Let me explain. I need two alarms to dredge me out of my blissful slumber at 5am without waking up Sara. Next to my bed, I have an alarm clock radio with a gentle wake feature. I can set the starting volume of the alarm to be very quiet, only waking me up. Barring some awkward sleeping configuration caused by my snuggling Siamese cats, I can get to the alarm before it wakes up the entire house.

However, if I just stop there, I’ll be back asleep in about fifteen seconds, or will snooze in bed for 90 minutes, annoying Sara, losing quality sleep, all the while accomplishing nothing I set out to do.

What has made the biggest impact for me has been my cell phone alarm that I set for 5:07am. Instead of keeping my phone charging on my nightstand, I charge it in the bathroom and set it with a loud alarm.

No matter how tired I am, at the very least, I have to get out of bed before 5:07 to turn off my cell phone alarm before it wakes up the entire house.

Here’s the catch: Those first seven minutes feel like death.

Every morning.

With eight hours of sleep or with five. Either way, as I turn off that 5:07 alarm, I wonder, “What on earth am I doing awake right now?” And I’m drawn back to my bed, still warm, still occupied by Sara and the cats.

And that’s the moment that often gets me. I trust my feelings. I go back to sleep.

But this morning, my feelings failed. They didn’t get me back in bed. I refused to believe them. As it turned out, they were wrong.

They’ve often been wrong. In truth, every time I’ve chosen not to believe them, they’ve been wrong. I have never regretted the mornings when I call my feelings’ bluff and stay awake.

Isn’t it amazing that our feelings can be so wrong? If our feelings can’t be trusted all the time, then what do we do about them? Let me offer a few thoughts:

1. Our feelings follow our actions. Michael Hyatt often speaks about this. Psychologists have studied this as well. For example, the physical act of smiling often has a psychological impact on us. When we feel depressed, for example, there’s a lot we can do that will directly impact our mood. Sometimes we have to fake it ‘til we make it.

2. Plan out what you want to do before you have to do it. As Dave Ramsey explains, if you don’t put a name on every dollar, you’ll find that those dollars often disappear. The same is true with our time, our health, and just about anything else in life. If we don’t plan what we intend for our lives, our feelings will reign supreme.

3. Create an action plan. Take your planning one step further. Don’t just say, “I want to wake up earlier.” Decide when you want to wake up. Plan out what sort of alarm you will use, when you’ll want to go to bed in order to get enough sleep, what you want to do when you wake up, and lay out your clothes by your bed the night before.

These plans will make it easier for you to tell your feelings to go back to bed when you wake up.

I know these thoughts won’t make fighting your feelings effortless, but they have helped me. I’d also like to point out that I don’t think feelings are bad (I plan to write an upcoming post about that). However, I’ve recently been fascinated at how dead wrong they can be.

When have you noticed your feelings feeding you lies? How do you know they are wrong?



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I'm a pastor, writer, speaker, husband, father, and follower of Christ, to name a few titles. You can find my contact information in my About page.
  • scrhill

    My feelings lead me astray each time my daughter goes to sleep or takes a nap. My feelings say, “sit on the couch. Read a book. Veg out!” I trick them by setting the microwave timer for 30 minutes. I tell those feelings that after 30 minutes of work around the house, I can sit down. I usually get 30-60 minutes of work done before I take a break to sit down. I feel much more productive (and get over 2 hours of housework done every day because of it!)