When we’ve been in an argument and we feel so justified to act on our feelings…


I’m guessing all of us have been there. We’ve been in a fight and we feel hurt, angry, mad, etc., and the feelings are so intense. Who can blame us? It is real and it sucks.

But what if we’ve been in one of those arguments and we take it to the next level…our feelings are hurt, yes, but we feel justified to act on our feelings however we want. For example, after a conflict, maybe we go AWOL for several days, or weeks. We feel justified to be cold and heartless. Is there justification for doing this? What is going on anyway? Although we may be entitled to our feelings, feeling justified to act on them however we want is really an issue of being held hostage by our feelings unknowingly.

You see, feelings come from several different areas. One place in particular is from our survival system. It is the place that says, “run for our lives” when our lives are in danger. And although this may be appropriate if we are running from a tiger, this biological, instinctual urge to run away may not help us with imagined threats in our relationships. We certainly may be hurt and angry, but becoming stuck in them like we belong there is certainly a good thing gone bad.

It is estimated that when we face negative feelings, we are physiologically triggered and the chemicals released into our bloodstream will last approximately 90 seconds.1 After that point, if the same chemicals were to be reactivated and re-released, our psychology has taken over. We have gone from acute to chronic, and reacting to a tiger in the room is very different than reacting like a tiger is in the room. So there is value in actually thinking about what is really happening…something admittedly hard to do in the heat of the moment.

Many a war can be averted when our physiology is controlled by our psychology rather than exacerbated by it. Maybe all the experts were right all along…maybe we do need to take a time out…or go for a walk…or conquer a mountain. Whatever our strategy, let’s give ourselves and relationships a break. Let’s learn to nip things in the bud before feeling justified to act on our feelings and do whatever we want…whatever that is.


1. Taylor, Jill Bolte (2009-05-26). My Stroke of Insight: A Brain Scientist’s Personal Journey (pp. 146-148). Penguin Group. Kindle Edition.