We Feel Whatever We Believe – Fundamental Principle
- Because we feel whatever we believe, our emotions play a vital role throughout the TPM Process.
- We always and ONLY feel what we believe.
- Blaming how we feel by saying, “I am having a bad day today” or “My work stresses me out,” “You make me feel so _____” or “You hurt my feelings,” is choosing to be the victim of other people’s behavior and or our life circumstance.
- If we feel what we feel because of what has happened to us, then there is no place for freedom until those around us or our life situation changes for us.
- Belief is the problem —and not what we feel—that needs to be renewed with truth. The solution is knowing the truth, rather than, stopping the pain.
- What happens to us does not dictate our emotional response, but rather, our emotional response is reflective of our interpretation of what we believe to have happened in the moment.
The Belief/Emotion Connection
Many people have never made the connection between what they believe and what they feel. They tend to assume that feeling badly when “bad” things happen is a normal reaction and what would be expected.Typically, people view emotion as a natural and predictable response to what has occurred in their life. For many it is simple, “Bad things happen, so we feel badly.” They also typically view what has happened to them in the past is the cause for their emotional pain.
If you asked them why they feel what they do, they may say something like, “I feel this way because of my traumatic past, what was said to me, because I did not get what was mine, because I was hurt as a child, because I lost my job and cannot pay my bills, because I was passed over for the promotion, because my dad was never happy with me, because Satan is oppressing me, because it is the “dark night of my soul,” and, because, because, because, …”
It is certain that having a negative emotion flair up in a stressful moment, is a typical and almost predictable response that most people make, but this does not make it the proper one or what God desires of us. As logical as such responses might seem, it is not accurate to say that it is right or even normal. What is happening to us or around us is not the source of our emotional discomfort. No one or no thing is making us feel anything that we may feel. The truth is, we feel whatever we believe. It really is this simple.
So when we say such things as “I am having a bad day today” or “My work stresses me out,” “You make me feel so _____” or “You hurt my feelings,” to explain why we are feeling what we feel, we are failing to take responsibility for our own belief and consequential emotional state and choosing to be the victim of other people behavior and or life circumstance.
“We feel whatever we believe”
Throughout your TPM training you will hear this catchphrase, “We feel whatever we believe” over and again. It is one of the foundation stones upon which this ministry rests. Because we feel whatever we believe, our emotions play a vital role throughout the TPM Process. Emotion is the primary indication of what is being believed moment-by-moment. The emotion is the “smoke trail” pointing in the direction of the belief. In TPM, emotion (even the most painful) is never viewed as something to overcome, the enemy, or a problem, but rather as a vital part in the process. Belief is the problem —and not what we feel—that needs to be renewed with truth. The solution is knowing the truth not stopping the pain. So then, since we feel whatever we believe, emotion gets the primary attention.
Someone will probably argue that when bad things happen it is only right that we feel badly. They may ask, “If someone is rude to us, mistreats us, or acts unjustly, would our feeling hurt, rejected, or unloved, not be the expected response?” Rather than discussing the right or wrong aspects of how we respond to life’s difficulties, we will take a few steps back and look at why we feel what we feel in any given moment. Why we feel what we do all goes back to our heart (or core)-belief and how we are using it to interpret what is happening. We have little control over what is happening to us, but we have much control about what we will do with our belief.
A Difficult but Vital Truth
This is a very difficult principle with which many people struggle. Nonetheless, it is the truth that we feel whatever we believe. Our emotions are never caused by what is happening to us in the moment, remembering what happened to us in the past, or because of what anyone in our lives -no matter how mean, cruel or evil they may be- has done or is doing. We always and ONLY feel what we believe. Belief -whether the truth or a lie- is the reason we are feeling what we are feeling.
Until we are able to embrace this truth we will continually live as a victim. Our only hope for a solution in this victim state is that our world changes around us. If this were true, then we would have no choice but feel what we feel until others or life itself changed. Can you see the problem with holding this position?
When life happens we interpret what is happening through our belief. What is happening does not dictate our emotional response, but rather, our emotional response is reflective of our interpretation of what we believe to have happened in the moment.
There really is no workaround in this. Our minds are limited in understanding the present apart from our belief. This is not to say that what has happened to us was not unjust, evil, or wrong, for it very well may have been so. Nonetheless, how we respond emotionally to what has happened is still our interpretation of what the assumed “bad” means for us personally. Our beliefs are the lenses through which we arrive at the meaning we ascribe to the moment. We interpret the current situation and remember our past through these same lenses. Some people may react to this by saying, “It is only normal to feel bad when bad things happen!” I agree that this is what we “normally” do, but it does not mean that it is God’s desire for us. If feeling bad is God’s normal for us when we encounter “various trials”, then we have much Scripture we will need to cut out of the Bible.
“Humble yourselves unto God…” and “draw near…” to Him
It is imperative that when life happens and we feel a negative emotion stir up, that we choose to act on the truth and not on what our rational and logical mind may tell us. Our minds may say, “What they did was unjust (possibly the truth) therefore, I feel ________” (not true). What typically follows is us acting out on what we are feeling in the moment. Sometimes we act out on the person involved, other times, we act inwardly through some form of self-medication. Either response will have bad consequence.
Without question, the person’s behavior may indeed have been unjust, however, what we feel is caused by how we interpret what we believe happened and not because of what happened. This interpretive belief was already in place before the person did what they did. The interpretive belief just happens to be the belief that our minds selected to bring meaning to the moment.
Here is where we must choose to act on the truth and not on our emotion. However, I am not suggesting we try to figure out “what would Jesus do?” and then attempt to mimic his behavior. Doing this is merely a futile attempt to “do the fruit” as opposed to “bearing ” it. What I am suggesting is that we acknowledge the truth that we “feel whatever we believe” and take ownership for our feelings and look to the Lord for His truth. The problem here is not what we are feeling, but rather what we are believing. Proper behavior will follow our knowing the truth in our hearts. Just doing the right things may get us by in the moment, but it will not have any lasting benefit.
The truth is, we feel what we believe. The situation before us has merely exposed our belief and is not the cause of our feelings or dictated our behavior. We can choose to detach ourselves from the thinking that the person or situation is making us feel something, choose not to react or respond, and re-frame it as an opportunity for mind renewal. However, we must also choose to move in the direction of freedom, which is identifying our lie-based belief and exchanging it for His truth.
When life happens and exposes our lie-based pain, it is very difficult to operate in the truth suggested here. Even though I may believe that I feel whatever I believe, it is still a great temptation to make it about what has happened or the people in the room. Letting go of the notion that others or things are the reason for why I feel what I feel, is not an easy thing to do. It requires all we can do to deny our natural inclination to shift the blame onto others or our situation, shed our victim status, and choose to take responsibility for what we feel. If we can do this, great benefit awaits us. Also, when we know this truth, this allows us to dis-empower others and life itself from “controlling” what we feel.
It is in these trying moments that we must choose to “submit…to God…” and “draw near…” to Him (Ja. 4:4-7). A simple prayer I sometimes pray might go something like: “Lord, you know how much I want to blame what I am feeling on what just happened, but I am choosing to take responsibility for what I am feeling and look to you for truth. I am totally dependent upon you and expecting you to grant me your grace to do rightly in this moment.”
Sometimes I will “resist the devil” as well, by simply speaking out loud a firm resistant “No!” in his direction. That is all that it takes to make him flee. There is no warfare needed, but only my choosing to resist his scheme to get me to blame others or life for what I am feeling. The Bible is clear where it says, ” Submit therefore to God. Resist the devil and he will flee from you. Draw near to God and He will draw near to you.” (Ja. 5:4-7)