Thoughts for the Week - Fr R Taouk
25th June 2017
Learning to Use and Control Our Feelings
by Fr. Narciso Irala S.J.
Feeling is a force God gives you for willing and working
with greater energy and constancy. But, like steam in a
locomotive, it is a chaotic force. If well channelled by
reason, it will be exceedingly useful to you.
Do not let feelings govern you.
Make no change under the influence of feelings. To have as a
norm of action 'because I like to' is the same as to take a
trolley without bothering about where it is going or only
because it is more comfortable or is shinier than another.
Likewise, to stop working 'because it is a bother' is to
renounce success, joy, glory and even your own salvation. To
want something only because there is no other way out is the
way a slave acts. To want something because it is no trouble
(following likes or impulses) is the way an animal acts. To
want something in spite of the bother (guided by reason or
duty) is the way a rational human being acts. To want
something even regardless of the difficulty of it (with your
eyes on the ideal or on God) is the way a hero or saint
Governing our feelings. Restrain the exaggeration of
Do not give too much importance to them, or to what pleases
or displeases you, or to what you fear or desire. For
experience tells us that feeling heightens things,
exaggerates good or evil, obscures and alters truth.
For example, do the words or behaviour of another irritate
you? Then your feelings will make you tend to think that he
has a deliberate bad intention (whereas he probably acted
without full reflection etc). They will even persuade you
that he has worse plans for the future. Do you feel a little
unwell? Your uncontrolled thought will tell you, 'it must be
tuberculosis, or heart trouble, or the beginnings of
insanity'. In all these cases you have lost control of your
feelings by letting them become exaggerated. Convince
yourself that the real situation is much better than your
emotional reaction to it.
Control Your Thoughts.
Do not give free rein to their deceptive arguments. Avoid
their exaggerations and transfers to other fields. Think
about something else and, above all, do not change your
plans or make important resolutions under the sway of
feelings. Let a day go by. Let a night go by, too. "Consult
your pillow." Then, when your feelings are calmed, you will
be disposed for work and you will see that 'the lion is not
so fierce as he is painted'.
With his fine sense of psychology St. Ignatius traces out
for us three very wise rules for governing ourselves when a
depressing feeling comes over us.
in time of desolation (that is when you are discouraged or
sad, without peace or when temptation blinds you), make no
change, but continue with the plans you made when you had
peace, light and consolation.
think of the fact that this state will pass and that light
and joy will return. Encourage the thoughts and feelings you
had before the desolation came.
act against the very desolation. Do the opposite of what you
feel yourself inclined to do. Lengthen your prayers, for
example, or perform even more acts of mortification.