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A Word about Following Your Heart

A Word about Following Your Heart



It’s the stuff of romance novels, love songs, poetry and romantic movies: the advice to “just follow your heart.”  It feels so good at first!

However, it’s also the stuff of poor choices, doomed relationships and painful consequences.  Initially, we think, “Awwwww.”  Later, we say, “Arghhh!”

Dr. James Dobson wrote, Emotions, Can you Trust Them? (1982)

In his introduction, he gave a wonderful illustration of the fact that, indeed, we cannot trust our emotions:

That topic always reminds me of a story my mother told about the high school she attended in 1930.  It was located in a small Oklahoma town which had produced a series of terrible football teams.  They usually lost the important games and were invariably clobbered by their arch rivals from a nearby community.  Understandably the students and their parents began to get depressed and dispirited by the drubbing their troops were given every Friday night.  It must have been awful.

Finally, a wealthy oil producer decided to take matters in his own hands.  He asked to speak to the team in the locker room after yet another devastating defeat.  What followed was one of the most dramatic football speeches of all times.  The businessman proceeded to offer a brand new Ford to every boy on the team and to each coach if they would simply defeat their bitter rivals in the next game.  Knute Rockne couldn’t have said it better.

The team went crazy with sheer delight.  They howled and cheered and slapped each other on their padded behinds.  For seven days, the boys ate, drank and breathed football.  At night they dreamed about touchdowns and rumble seats.

 . . .

Finally, the big night arrived and the team assembled in the locker room.  Excitement was at an unprecedented high.  The coach made several inane comments, and the boys hurried out to face the enemy.  They assembled on the sidelines, put their hands together and shouted a simultaneous “Rah!” Then they ran onto the field and were demolished 38 to zero.

The team’s exuberance did not translate into a single point on the scoreboard.  Seven days of hoorah and whoop-de-do simply couldn’t compensate for the players’ lack of discipline and conditioning and practice and study and coaching and drill and experience and character. 

Such is the nature of emotion.

Of course, emotions are an extremely important part of our makeup. People who are not aware of their emotions live lives that are far less rich and full than they can be.  By the same token, intuitions and “gut feelings” should never be disregarded completely.

But emotions are fickle and can change from day to day or even hour to hour!  Our brains, on the other hand,  enable us to do our homework, gather information, consider the plusses and minuses and seek wise and trustworthy counsel.  When making life-changing decisions such as marriage, divorce, taking a job, quitting a job, and many others, please don’t follow your heart.

Follow your head!

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