Monday, September 17, 2012

Trust Issues: When I can’t trust my own feelings

Contemplate this for a second.
I have trust issues. It’s one of the reasons it’s often so difficult for me to make decisions. That I have trust issues with other people shouldn’t surprise you at all. But. I also have trust issues with myself. 

Often I feel like I’m the only one I can trust. Then again. Often I feel like I’m the last person I should trust.

I can’t trust my own feelings.

When I can’t trust my feelings it’s because I know how poor my decisions have been and what has happened to me because of my decision to act on certain feelings. I’ve made a lot of bad decisions based on how I felt for someone and it’s turned out really, really painfully for me. This has happened so many times I’ve begun to question my own judgment in matters of emotional context. I can never be sure if I’m making a decision that is actually good for me, if it’s one that just feels good, or if I just want it to be good for me. So many times I’ve wanted something to be good for me, felt that it was what I wanted, when I could see how detrimental it would turn out.

My emotions often steer me in a direction opposite of my cognitive knowledge.  This is when I’m the hardest on myself as well. When I cognitively know that something is wrong for me, but emotionally it feels right for me. It’s that emotional pull that gives a decision a sense of reality. It FEELS real. Merely knowing doesn’t have the same full body connection that feeling does.  Emotion is the chemical reaction, the response, that shocks through your body. It’s why it’s so much harder to ignore the emotional decision in favor of the logical one.

Conversely, I can also be so guarded, protecting myself so much, in terms of how I’m feeling that I don’t have a full grasp of the range of my emotions. I’m trying so hard to protect myself that I subconsciously ignore flags that indicate positive or negative issues.

Emotional invalidation is a problem when it comes from the people we need to support us. Emotional invalidation is also a huge problem when we do it to ourselves. I’m famous for this. All too often I find myself saying I shouldn’t feel this way, I shouldn’t react this way, I have no right to feel this way, I don’t deserve to feel this way, so I shut myself down. Or try to. I try so hard to shut out feelings that I “shouldn’t” have, and in doing so, shut down my ability to feel properly on all levels. I try to shut down one thing, but emotions for me are like a faucet… they can run hot, run cold, run lukewarm, but if you try to turn the faucet off, you don’t get any emotional temperature at all. So everything you experience has the same, flat, room temperature appeal, without the benefit of full sensory experience to aid in decisions. Where I might react strongly, or at least decisively, in one situation, my reaction now becomes something nonchalant, disinterested, or halfhearted.

I’m much better with this now. Emotions are essentially a chemical response triggered in your brain.  Chemicals don’t care if you “should” be better or worse than someone in a given situation, all they know is that they’ve been set in motion; that they are. How you feel, is how you feel. And that’s okay.  How you cope and ultimately react to the event that set those responses in motion is what you get to control. That’s where you can sit back, take a look at what’s going on, and ask if how you’re responding is appropriate or not.

Can't I just have a clone to do all the
other options for me? 
It can get even more “fun” though, when on top of everything else, I can be conflicted and feel multiple ways about someone at the same time. I might really like a lot of their attributes for one situation, not like those same attributes for another hypothetical situation, be unsure of others, and then second guess whether any of it is right at all, even though they have all these other things that I really appreciate. It’s a big messy mental collision all happening at approximately a million thoughts per second.

Emotional ambivalence at its finest.

How you feel should be pretty straight forward. But when you often have all of these things bouncing around in your head at once, it quickly becomes convoluted. It’s confusing to not have emotional consistency… 


  1. Ugh, I know what you mean. They should be straight forward shouldn't they? Mine are all over the place, always have been. The shouldn'ts are typical of me too :/

  2. I am in a similar situation during the past few months, it feels as if I have most my emotional compass, as if I cannot trust my gut feeling anymore. Working a lot with myself but have yet to find a suitable solution on how to go on about re-gaining my intuition.
    Also, the idea that one feels like this at some point because one does not love himself/herself on one hand makes sense, but doesn't really really cut it for some of us who work so hard on understanding ourselves.

  3. This is me!!! Hava been like this al My life and almost got killed because of it and My life have been à big kaos!!!! Its à little bit better now when im older but its still à struggle :-/

  4. Just came upon this today. I could have written it. A very close male friend of mine died recently and I so regret that I never told him that I loved him. He loved me, but i just could never decide where i wanted the relationship to go. I overanalyzed every feeling i had for him. i overanalyze everything - i can't let anything just be what it is. We'd been friends for years, and it was so natural and easy to be with him. But like you, decisions i'd made in the past have led me to not trust my feelings. He died unexpectantly 5 months ago, and i miss him every day. His death was so much harder than i would ever have imagined. i loved that dear man and i know how much it would have meant to him to hear me say "I love you, too."

  5. I feel this way since a few years now, actually since I had a very important girlfriend. She said a lot of things to me all over the time we were together and it stayed on me, making me not being able to trust my feelings. Do I still love her? Is it just my need for a girlfriend that makes me think that? I don't know anymore how to recognize love. I'm afraid I might be losing interest in relationships and maybe relationships themselves. Some I could miss because I wouldn't be economize them as serious. It's killing me and I don't know how to respond to this emotional flood. I'll say to myself, I should contact her, see if she still likes me, see if they're still a way she could be in love, somewhere deeply in her mind. I say to myself that I have nothing to lose, but I'm afraid I might lose even more trust in my feelings. At the same time I'm afraid that taking the risk of doing it might be the key to trust them again. I don't know what to do, and sometimes I wish I wasn't that "consciously intelligent", being able to think about everything in my life with my inner self. Praised be the dumb.


Leave me a comment! It makes me feel good and less paranoid about talking to myself =)

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