This question gets on my mind constantly, since it’s relevant to my time spent recovering from Christianity and coping with mental illness. My emotions have been used against me in the past, and there are times when I can’t control them anymore. During those times, I feel things that are terrible, and they desperately want to be counted as true. I can’t give into them as a matter of survival.
Often, feelings do get treated like facts.
According to a lot of places, the world is ending, or in trouble, or there’s some kind of international emergency that needs solving right now. Urgency is a great way to get people to stop thinking and start acting. In theory, it can get people to do acts which will help them and others in the long run. But I’m not sure it’s okay in practice.
Over the years, I’ve met tons of people who will swear that nature can be secretly manipulated, nothing real is as it seems, and even fabled monsters actually exist. A lot of those people didn’t have any diagnosis of mental health problems; they’d probably be considered normal except for their eccentricities. We live in a free society, so these eccentricities are tolerated.
What concerns me is that people will demand I share their eccentricities, and they can get pretty bent out of shape if I don’t do it. This is true of people from all walks of life, not just skeptic conspiracy theorists or religious spiritual warriors. Dig deep enough, and there will be some kind of irrational belief that persists for no other reason than feelings about a thing are accepted in place of evidence.
The solution is discipline, but that’s hard to do.
Many times I fault myself for when I’m not able to maintain an objective and rational stance on views. Sometimes, I’ll read something particularly stupid and not resist the urge to say something. I feel dangerous and exposed at those times, because I feel like I’m losing my self-control. Like I said earlier, self-control for me is a survival mechanism.
Ultimately, I think I’m not fully at peace with the idea that feelings are not facts. I understand the thought, and I don’t want to contribute to anyone’s impression that they can go through life determining reality by whether they like it or not. Such a thing is reckless at best, and it can leave scars on unintended victims. I’ve lived my life around people who use their feelings as facts, and I’m not the better for it.
Logic, reason, and discipline are not things that come naturally to anyone. They have to be taught, and they have to be fully accepted in order to be of any use. These things help us cope with the chaos of life without being fully beholden to it. Not everyone has the same perspective that I have, though, so they can’t fully appreciate this.
Feelings aren’t facts, but they do exist.
I can’t always control them. I can try to habituate myself to them. Being comfortable in my own skin is not in my nature. Just like logic, reason, and discipline, it’s a skill I’m going to need to learn in order to be the best version of myself that I can be.