Why “Follow Your Feelings” Doesn’t Always Work - Teal Swan Articles - Teal Swan Jump to content

Why “Follow Your Feelings” Doesn’t Always Work

Feeling and emotion is the heart of your life here on earth.  Emotion functions like a compass pointing you through life. If your compass were not messed with, you would not fall out of touch with your own North Star.  You would not see your emotions as wrong and therefore, you would see every emotion as valid and happening for an important reason. You would listen carefully to the personal truth being conveyed in every emotion and you would therefore follow what feels good with awareness the same way you would follow a compass due North.  You would know that if you felt bad, it means that you are headed the wrong direction for you personally with your thoughts and words and actions.

But our compasses are messed with.  They are messed with during the process of socialization when we come into contact with other people who cannot accommodate for our truth (including wants and needs and personal purpose) and thus require us to let go of our truth for them.  They raise us to believe that this is the only way to avoid conflict and to feel good.  They ask us to replace our internal compass with theirs and they fiddle with our compass so it no longer reflects our personal truth.           

When a parent disapproves of their child’s emotion or dismisses it or turns against it, the child begins to accept the parent’s estimation of the event and of themselves and their own internal guidance system and in turn, learns to doubt his or her own judgment.  As a result, the child loses confidence in themself. The child learns that they have no right to feel how they feel and that their own feelings and therefore internal guidance system is faulty. They learn that it is wrong to feel how they feel and especially wrong therefore to follow how they feel and use the way they feel like a compass.  And here we have a problem.

Seeing as how your emotions are like a compass, always conveying personal truth to you and always pointing you in the direction that is right for you to go, there is nothing more critical to do in life than to get back in touch with your emotions and to start following that internal guidance system again.  This is why teachings like “follow your joy” and “be unconditionally present to your emotions” and “make how you feel the most important thing in your life” are so important. But there is one major problem inherent in approaching life with this blind conviction and that is, our feelings and therefore our compass has been messed with and we might very well be walking through life with our wires completely crossed.  

I want you to imagine a little girl.  This little girl really loves science.  If it were up to her, she would be absorbed in her microscope all day long.  But her mom is not ok with this. Her mom needs help around the house. When this little girl becomes absorbed in her microscope, which feels good to her, her mother shames her for being selfish and only rewards her for helping.  Because of this early education (that following her intrinsic motivation leads to punishment and therefore feels bad and being a helper leads to reward and avoidance of pain and therefore feels good) her wires have been crossed. Until she becomes aware of why helping feels good to her specifically, if we ask her to follow her emotional guidance system, she will gravitate towards endlessly helping others and she will say its because it feels good.  She is following her emotional compass. But her emotional compass has been rigged through conditioning. It doesn’t reflect her intrinsic truth. It reflects the truth her mother wanted her to have. For this reason, helping people will feel temporarily good and like the right decision. But she will have no idea why she is so drained and why it seems like the wrong decision a little while after she has made it.

Another example is that a person’s internal guidance system would never reflect that hurting themselves feels good and is good to do.  But if a boy has a parent that is antagonistic towards him consistently and he discovers that hurting himself is a way to avoid that antagonism by disarming his parent, his wires will be crossed.  He will start to experience emotional relief in conjunction with self injury because he has learned that being good to himself = pain and hurting himself = being safe.

Another example is that a woman has been so emotionally starved that when a man comes into her life and promises to meet those needs she is starving for, she can no longer notice any of the more subtle emotional cues telling her that this man is dangerous and manipulative.  She will ignore all the red flags in favor of the extraordinary relief of having those needs met. He may be promising her to meet those needs manipulatively. Out of desperation, she will “follow her guidance system” straight into the arms of a very dangerous man.

Another example is that if you have been trying and trying to become a success at something, you may get to a point where what feels like relief and therefore good, is to quit.  In the grand scheme of things, quitting might not actually be what is best for you. What might be best is to re-evaluate the way you are trying to go about succeeding. The negative emotion you feel may be simply reflecting thoughts you are thinking like, “I’m a failure, I’ll never amount to anything.”  And so, you may quit something you would have been very successful at because you interpreted the emotion of relief relative to quitting as an indication that you should quit.

Another example is that we all have splits in our consciousness.  To understand more about this, watch my video titled “Fragmentation, The Worldwide Disease”.  Imagine that early in life, a split was formed within your consciousness between the vulnerable self that needs other people, which was suppressed and the protector self that became totally independent, which you identified with.  Because you identified with that part of you (and independence) as a road to staying safe and therefore feeling good, your emotional guidance system will make sure you only feel good when you rely only on yourself. You will feel terror when you think of asking anyone for help.  You might get VERY sick because of shouldering all the pressure. Or find yourself in a scenario where you really did need someone to succeed at something, but it just felt wrong to ask them. Following the feelings associated with your protector self is only following part of your personal truth, and a very extreme polarity at that.                

If people, whose compasses have been messed with, follow their joy, they will follow an internal compass that is meddled with and whose wires were crossed long ago.  They will follow conditioning, not personal truth and they will end up VERY confused and eventually feel as if they are on the wrong course as a result.

We must understand that there is nothing inherently wrong with this.  The reason that channels and spirit guides often do not care about this nuance and teach a person to follow their feelings anyway to the ends of the earth is because they know that if the person follows their compass that was meddled with, it will lead them to a destination that they don’t want to be at, at which point they will then discover that they don’t want it and change direction entirely, back into alignment with the pre-meddled with course.  From the higher dimensional perspective where these beings exist, life happens in a blink of an eye. It is very tiny in the grand scheme of the universe. It is not a problem from their perspective if a person follows their joy which belongs to a meddled with compass and as a result, ends up getting cancer in order to change their direction in life and to see that North was not really North. But the perspective from a physical incarnation is much, much different isn’t it?  Many things feel worth it in the grand scheme of things to our non-physical aspects that do not feel worth it to our temporal aspects.

It is inevitable that if everyone followed their joy, they would find their personal truth eventually.  What no one tells you is that the conditioning that so often crosses our wires makes that journey one of many lessons learned the hard way.  There is nothing wrong with that. But if you are dedicated to awareness, you need to be aware that this is the case. And my dedication to reducing suffering makes giving this awareness you, imperative.    

I am not inviting you to distrust yourself and distrust the way you feel.  This is way worse than following your emotional guidance system towards what feels good with no awareness about why and meeting with terrible ends.  This is what caused everything to go haywire in the first place.

When you follow your emotional guidance system with this awareness, you will be able to question yourself.  Not in the sense that you doubt yourself. Rather in the spirit of curiosity and the desire to be totally aware.  You will ask yourself WHY something feels good to do. What is the purpose for it and why?  If I might have been trained that what felt bad was good and what felt good was bad relative to this circumstance, how might that influence me in this scenario?  If I were doing this purely because of how I want to look to others or to myself, how might that be true? What might I do differently if I knew no one would judge me or impose consequences upon me?  Am I trying to avoid something in this scenario and therefore being guided by what I don’t want rather than what I do want? If I were not being honest with myself or other people in this scenario, what would I not be being honest about and why? What are my real reason(s) for doing this?  What makes me believe that this feels right to me? Are these feelings really mine, or are the feelings the result of thoughts and belief systems I adopted from someone else?

Any shadow work you do will make you more conscious.  Think of every emotion within you like the ice on a lake. Like ice, each one is covering a message of a deep personal truth, like water, underneath it.  If you are unconditionally present with each emotion, you will melt through the emotion into that truth. Based off of hearing the thoughts associated with that truth, you will know the WHY behind why you feel the way you feel and why your compass is pointing you in a particular direction.  You then get to use your free will to make a conscious choice and take a conscious action based off of that truth.

Keep in mind that this awareness is not about arriving at whether your emotional guidance system is right or wrong.  It is about gaining awareness about where your internal compass has been meddled with and re-wiring yourself so that North is Truly North for you.  

Follow what feels good.  Follow your joy. Follow your emotional guidance system to the ends of the earth, but with awareness…  With the awareness that your compass has been meddled with and with the awareness that your wires may have been crossed.


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