Feelings versus Commitment: Which Liberates, Which Imprisons?



A woman chewed me out once because I asked her (very nicely) not to park her car behind mine while Pep Boys repaired a tire on it. In a hurry, I didn’t want to be slowed down while they got her to move her car so I could leave. I got so angry, I thought about giving her the finger on my way out of the parking lot. I felt that she deserved it for being such a witch.

Sometimes, when I’m on the computer or playing my guitar, one or both of my kids will come in freaking out: “Come look at this dad!” or “The Rock bit me!” or a very loud yell will come from the bathroom, “Daddy I’m done!!!” (If you are not a parent you won’t get this.) Sometimes I feel like shouting back “Do it yourself, for Pete’s sake! Leave me alone!! Or at least locking the door, putting earplugs in and ignoring them.  I feel that I should be able to play my guitar in peace.

The fact is, what I “feel” really doesn’t matter in the face of the commitments I’ve made with myself.

Maybe there’s changes you want to make, things you want to do, or a way of being that you want to embody, but you don’t seem to be moving in that direction. If you wait until you “feel” like doing what it takes, I guarantee you, it won’t happen. If you aren’t moving in the direction you want, it’s probably because you aren’t really committed to it.

A true commitment is a thoughtful and reasonable decision to pursue a path that’s meaningful to you, based on your highest ideals for yourself. You make the commitment knowing that there will be times when you won’t feel like it, but also knowing that in the face of your commitment, what you feel doesn’t have to matter.

I didn’t give the lady the finger or yell back at my kids because it’s not in line with a couple of the commitments I’ve made to myself: to be a good dad, and to be kind and forgiving person.

I used to see commitment as something you “have” to do.  Used to be, I had no interest in committing to anything. I didn’t want to be tied down. I just wanted to do what I felt like doing. I used to see my feelings as  freedom, and commitment as a prison, but now, I get that it can be the other way around.

It’s possible to become a prisoner of your feelings, when what you do depends on how you feel. Feelings can change lot over time. “Today I feel like I love you, but yesterday I wanted to strangle you.” See what I mean? Take if from me, if you only do what you feel like doing, you might have fun for a while, but you are not going to create something lasting and worthwhile.

That takes commitment. Instead of being shackles that imprison you, your true and authentic commitments bind you to your highest ideal or your loftiest goal; they are the rails that keep you in line with where you want to go.

The commitment that you make with intention and purpose actually frees youfrom those things that threaten to keep you from honoring it, such as how you feel on any particular day, or the weather, or the economy, or the time of the month, or if there is something good on tv. A commitment leaves you free to create your life, unencumbered by having to give time or effort to conflicting feelings.

Of courses, feelings are important. A feeling could be an inspiration, an intuition, or a move towards compassion. Your feelings come into play when you make your commitment. In the mix of things that go into making a commitment, such as  practicality, desire, and ability, perhaps feeling is the most important. Yet, alone, they are not enough.

You never really make a commitment to anything or anyone. You always make a commitment to yourself. That’s because when you make a true and authentic commitment, you don’t ask yourself, “What do I want to do?”

The question you must ask yourself is this: “Who do I want to be?” Few people really get this. (I’m not one of them.)

Ask “What am I committed to being?” Loving? Generous? Compassionate? Strong? Healthy? Wealthy? Creative? These are not feelings, they are behaviors. You don’t say “I’m committed to feeling loving all the time!” If you do, you will fail! Instead, you say, “I’m committed to being loving as much as I can even when I don’t feel like being loving.” Now that’s a real commitment.

Sorry, but you will not honor all of your commitments all the time (but you knew that). That’s the nature of commitment: the minute you make one, things will come along to derail you. But get this:

It’s how often and how quickly you get back on track that is the measure of the strength of your commitment. No beating yourself up; you simply asses: “How can I avoid getting derailed in the future?” It’s a muscle that you strengthen. Might you change your commitment? Sure. But make sure that any changes you make aren’t based on how you feel, but on who you want to be, assuming that your current commitment is no longer in line with that.

If you’re having trouble sticking to your commitments, or you’re thinking about making some, click on this link now to check out my special offer. I can help you create the motivation, momentum and mentality you need to start making things happen or to get back on track, and free you from any feelings that have you locked up in the prison of stinkin’ thinkin’!



2 replies
  1. Kyle
    Kyle says:

    Thank you for the wise words Brother Ted! In fact they come at a perfect time (coincidence? I think not) & have helped me to decide on a commitment that is being asked of me right now. You’re the man!

  2. Kelly B
    Kelly B says:

    I listened to your PodCast on this topic and was reminded that FEELINGS are temporary, but commitment when directed by good intentions, can last a lifetime. Thanks Ted in your HEAD

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