What a tube of toothpaste taught me about trusting my feelings
One of the hardest lessons for me to learn has been to live in my body and my real feelings rather than my head.
Right now, I'm in Vegas for a tech conference (Collision), and I haven't brought any toothpaste. It's entirely my own fault. We were down to only one tube, and it was either me or Phoebe. And I decided that I couldn't leave her without toothpaste. I'd have to get some myself either at the airport or from the hotel. And of course I forgot to ask when I checked in, and by the time I got to my room, it was 4am my time, and I was so exhausted that going down to the reception one more time seemed too daunting. So I went without. And when I woke up, I was still exhausted, and still without toothpaste.
So, no toothpaste, no big deal. I'll survive. I brushed my teeth in water, and that's fine. But the lesson here is not about the toothpaste. It's about my feelings.
You see, my feelings were very clear: Take the toothpaste.
My mind was the one to get it all messed up. It said "no, then she'll have to get new toothpaste, and that's an inconvenience for her, and I can't do that to her". It said "I'll get some later". It tried to talk me out of my feeling.s
But because I couldn't justify it, because of wanting to be a good and gentlemanly and considerate husband, because I couldn't come up with a good reason other than "I want that toothpaste", I talked myself out of it, and here we are.
This is the kind of thing that creates resentment and adversity in relationships. I feel resentment toward Phoebe, even though in reality I'm resentful towards myself. My mind didn't listen to my feelings, and now my feelings are angry with my mind. For good reason.
The justification is where we so often go wrong. "Because that's how I feel" ought to be plenty justification. But we start arguing with ourselves.
The truth is, too, that we cannot know what this might ultimately lead to. Yes, Phoebe might have been upset, and that would be a bummer. But maybe that experience would hold an important insight or key for her in her life, and now I robbed her of that opportunity. We just can't know.
When we overrule our feelings, they don't go away, they get stored up. And on top of that, we even breed resentment. The resentment is really towards ourselves for ignoring our own feelings, but very often it gets projected outward towards other people who we perceive to have wronged us. All in all, it's a recipe for unhappy and unhealthy living.
Simply ask yourself, all the time: What do my feelings tell me to do this moment? Do I stay? Do I leave? Do I say yes? Do I say no? Do I eat this? Do I eat that?
And dig deep for the deepest layer of feeling you can. Feelings come in layers. What we're going for here is not anger or hurt or resentment, but desire. What do I really want in this moment. Then trust that message, and act appropriately.