Can Feelings Be Wrong?

Can Feelings Be Wrong?

Can Feelings Be Wrong?

In this week’s Success Newsletter, I would like to explore and reveal whether or not feelings can be right or wrong.

First a quick update:

Get Over Your Ex Now
Are you heartbroken, angry, lost, lonely, confused, depressed, hung up, or pining over your ex? Do you truly want a happy, loving, fulfilling relationship full of passion, intimacy and commitment, where you are worshiped and adored? Get Over Your Ex Now! 

Real Life Tragedy – Do You Teach Morality & Ethics to Your Children?
Do you know the difference between morality and ethics? If your friend tells you a secret that could lead to his suffering or death, would you betray that secret? What do you teach your children? 

Now, let’s talk about whether or not feelings can be wrong.

“Follow your gut feeling; follow your intuition; listen to your feelings; if it feels wrong, then don’t do it; do what feels right; there’s a good reason that it feels off.”

You probably have heard these phrases, teachings and directions; after all it is a very common premise – if it feels right, then it must be right.

Is that true?

Can feelings actually be “right” or “wrong”?

I teach my clients that “It is okay to feel whatever you feel; whatever you feel is okay. However, that same feeling can also actually be inaccurate or misleading.”

Shutting down or denying an emotion is unhealthy and leads to depression and a host of other psychological and physical problems. Further, if you are denying or repressing your emotions in a relationship, it is highly likely that the relationship will fail or disintegrate.

Experiencing an emotion does not directly cause a problem; the way you choose to react to the emotion and for how long you experience that emotion can potentially cause problems.

Choosing to accept the emotion as okay, and accepting that you are experiencing that particular emotion, does not imply that the feeling (emotion) is accurate or that it represents truth or reality.

Experiencing the feeling is not wrong. However, the feeling itself can be wrong in relation to reality. The feeling might be inaccurate, inappropriate or disproportionate in intensity to the situation or event.

Angie, a client, could not enter the ocean or a lake beyond a depth of a few inches because she was so afraid of drowning; she could not even walk to a depth of waist-high water even if the water was calm and flat. Her emotion of fear was not an accurate representation of the dangers of the ocean or a lake. She could not enter the ocean or lake because it did not feel “right.”

Marianne, another client, said she and her boyfriend would argue often because she refused to engage in any public displays of affection, saying it felt wrong to do so.

Jillian, could not express herself sexually with her husband or have physical intimacy because she said it felt wrong and extremely uncomfortable.

Robert, struggled to adjust to moving to a new state, in a new home and working a new job – “it feels weird, uncomfortable and foreign to me”, he said.

Paul was struggling to break the habit of eating junk food for lunch at his regular diner and instead go to a healthy restaurant. “I don’t mind the new food; it’s just that I feel out of place in the new restaurant. I don’t know anyone there.”

Mandy wanted children and when her boyfriend finally told her that he did not want to be a father, she ended the relationship. Mandy said was suffering because it felt painful to be without him: “It feels weird”, she said.

“Cognitive-emotive dissonance is that “strange” funny feeling of wrongness which occurs every time we do, think, or feel something that is the opposite to which we are accustomed.”
– The Client’s Guide to Cognitive Behavioral Therapy by Dr. Aldo Pucci

In all of the above examples, the clients wanted to make a change or take a specific action. However, their feeling was that the new action was wrong.

These are all examples where the client experiences “wrong” feelings when faced with an action that goes against their deeper beliefs or customary associations and responses: Cognitive-emotive dissonance. For example, Angie almost drowned as a child and so the associated the ocean with pain and her present fear of even entering the ocean was misleading, inaccurate and paralyzing for her. Marianne subconsciously believed that public displays of affection are wrong because she was raised to believe that. For Robert, the move to a new state and job felt wrong because he had to change so many things that he was accustomed to – friends, home, job, routine, etc.

Katherine, another client was struggling because her friends kept complaining that she would cancel appointments at the last moment or simply not show up. Katherine said she couldn’t understand why they reacted so harshly. For Katherine, it felt right to be spontaneous, change her mind or not show up at all. She didn’t realize that what felt “right” to her, was actually a selfish and irresponsible behavior. Her feelings were misleading and damaging her friendships.

Geoff was experiencing feelings of revenge in response to learning that his girlfriend had cheated on him. Geoff was confused and conflicted because he said that it felt right be vengeful and yet consciously believed that revenge was wrong. I explained to Geoff that feeling vengeful or vindictive is a natural response to feeling betrayed and rejected; it is expected that you will feel that you want to hurt the person that hurt you. Thus, the feeling is not wrong in and of itself. The key question is whether or not you will act on those feelings of revenge.

Habits are hard to break or replace because of Cognitive-emotive dissonance. New behaviors, habits and action create an uncomfortable feeling – the feeling that this new action is wrong, even when you consciously know that the new behavior, decision or habit will be beneficial.

The key to making the changes you want is to question the accuracy of the emotion or feeling. Yes, the feeling is valid (it is valid and okay to feel whatever you feel) but again the feeling might not be helpful or proportional to reality or the event; and it might actually be very misleading.

Accordingly, accept your emotions and feelings; question if they are in line with your goals and then carefully and consciously choose how you will respond to those feelings. Also, teach children to effectively express their emotions.

Remember, your response will determine your result, not the original emotion.

If you would like help to develop emotional intelligence and learn how to handle Cognitive-emotive dissonance, book a one-on-one session with me. 

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I wish you the best and remind you “Believe in yourself -You deserve the best!”

Patrick Wanis Ph.D.
Celebrity Life Coach, Human Behavior & Relationship Expert & SRTT Therapist

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