Ask Dr. Mark Goulston

By Dr. Mark Goulston (KRT) Dear Dr Mark, I’ve always had problems going against my feelings. When I don’t want to do something, it’s nearly impossible to keep doing it. As a result I’ve changed majors several times and in more than a few courses I lose steam when I lose interest. I keep looking for that course or major where I will continue to be interested from start to finish, but as soon as my feelings change, so does my effort. I don’t know if this matters, but I also have a trouble with authority figures, and I think it’s because they seem to always be telling me what I “should” do, which usually causes me to not want to do it. I’m writing because I get the feeling that being true to my feelings is not such a great thing. _ Feelings-Driven at University of Colorado, Boulder Dear Feelings, I am presently helping a group of men between the ages of 26 and 48 that I call, “The Last Chance for Lost Causes Group.” These are all likable guys with higher than 120 IQs who went to college and never did much afterward. They exasperate their families. Their brothers and sisters think of them as losers, their fathers are disgusted by them and their mothers are just afraid they will overdose on pot or alcohol. What they all have in common is that they have lived their lives being true to their feelings. This translates into bailing out of jobs, schools and relationships when they no longer feel like being there. They are now discovering that they have been the casualties of a big dilemma that was all their making. When you aren’t true to your feelings, you feel trapped; become resentful, anxious and rebellious; and lose the motivation to try. If you live only by being true to your feelings, you won’t stick with things when you stop wanting to do them. As a result you won’t accomplish much, and you never develop credibility in the eyes of the world. Although people might be impressed with your talent or intelligence, they’re not going to want to entrust much to you. Recently I asked them what they wished they’d done differently in college. They all said they wish they hadn’t been such rebels without a clue and that they had stuck with something long enough to feel they had accomplished something. ___ (Dr. Mark Goulston is the author of “Get Out of Your Own Way: Overcoming Self-Defeating Behavior” published by Perigee Books. Send your questions to Dr. Mark at [email protected] or visit him at ___ ‘copy 2003, Knight Ridder/Tribune News Service Distributed by Knight Ridder/Tribune Information Services.