An old friend, a faithful Christian, deeply and genuinely concerned for those who walk in errant ways, in an email, replied to my last post “Feeling the Holy Ghost” with this phrase, “Unfortunately FEELINGS are notoriously undependable”.

For many years I heard this phrase and honestly until this week I had never examined fully what this means. Perhaps I might have further questioned my friend and asked for examples to be sure I’m on the right track. Does he refer to the feelings or promptings we receive from the Holy Spirit as being indefinable? Or does he mean that to be guided aright by our feelings is undependable?  Or something else entirely? Well, I didn’t think to ask him.

For sure, I believe this comment deserves examination because there are many people who say feelings are undependable. How would you respond?

As I pondered how to respond to his statement, many questions flooded my mind. What is the definition of feelings? Which feelings might be considered ‘undependable’? In what situation might feelings be undependable? Could the answer include a connection with emotions? If so, what role do emotions play? What could be the result/impact of ‘undependable’ feelings? Why do some people not recognize or trust their feelings? I make no promise to answer these questions for you. On reflecting, many questions came to my mind and I feel as though each might merit its own post!

I am very grateful for this friend’s comment because I have taken the opportunity to refresh my mind on pertinent scriptures and hopefully by the end of this post, I will have made some helpful clarifications. And yes, I could choose to focus only on the idea of ‘feeling the Holy Spirit’, however this might not serve to elaborate as I’ve promised my friend I would do.

I will get to that in the next post. It’s one thing to have progressed and learned to recognize promptings and inspiration from the Holy Ghost in my life…and a whole other thing to make the effort to communicate some of how that can be possible. I’ve got my whole blog set up to cover just this, LOL!

For many of you, this section will be familiar, however I consider it foundational. I know I would have benefited had I grasped these ideas in the very beginning.  We all experience feelings and emotions-none of us are exempt. It is the major aspect of our experience here on earth.

We are raised in righteous and gentle ways. Or we are raised in terrible situations bereft of the benefits of the gospel of Jesus Christ. Some of us fall in between. Whatever your experience, you have not escaped learning the consequences of others’ feelings or emotions. You also have not been able to get away from the consequences of your feelings and emotions in action.

So, then. First, I searched the scriptures-I’ll come back to those in a bit.

Online, I found this on feelings. I will include on my list only those items that pertain to further discussion for this post.

the general state of consciousness considered independently of particular sensations, thoughts, etc.

2.  a consciousness or vague awareness: a feeling of inferiority.

3.  an emotion or emotional perception or attitude: a feeling of joy; a feeling of sorrow.

4.  capacity for emotion, especially compassion: to have great feeling for the sufferings of others.

5.  a sentiment; attitude; opinion: The general feeling was in favor of the proposal.

6.  sensitive; sentient.

7.  readily affected by emotion; sympathetic: a feeling heart.

8.  indicating or characterized by emotion: a feeling reply to the charge.

These synonyms listed fascinated me very much. The emphasis added is mine. I intend to refer to some of these later.


2. FEELING, EMOTION, PASSION, SENTIMENT refer to pleasurable or painful sensations experienced when one is stirred to sympathy, anger, fear, love, grief, etc.

FEELING is a general term for a subjective point of view as well as for specific sensations: to be guided by feeling rather than by facts; a feeling of sadness, of rejoicing.

EMOTION is applied to an intensified feeling: agitated by emotion.

PASSION is strong or violent emotion, often so overpowering that it masters the mind or judgment: stirred to a passion of anger.

SENTIMENT is a mixture of thought and feeling, especially refined or tender feeling: Recollections are often colored by sentiment.

2. 3. apathy.

6.  cold. 

Idioms & Phrases

see hard feelingsmixed feelingsno hard feelingsrun high, (feelings)sinking feeling.


  1. to perceive a state of mind or a condition of body: to feel happy; to feel well.
  2. to have a sensation of being: to feel warm.
  3. to make itself perceived or apparent; seem: How does it feel to be rich?
  4. a sensation of something felt; a vague mental impression or feeling: a feel of winter; a feel of sadness in the air.
  5. native ability or acquired sensitivity: to have a feel for what is right.

Consider first, your experiences with feelings/emotions. Ponder on the following random feelings. What might have been the condition of your heart at that time?  What might be the source of these feelings?


(I feel…)



Afraid Do   not let your hearts be troubled and do not be afraid

John 14:27

Alienated Being alienated from the   life of God…because of the blindness of    their heart (KJV)

Ephesians 4:18

Angry Refrain   from anger and turn from wrath; do no fret-it leads only to evil


Anxious Banish anxiety from your   heart

Ecclesiastes 11:10

Bitter Get   rid of all bitterness, rage and anger…

Ephesians 4:31

Cold The love of most will   grow cold.You are neither cold nor   hot. I wish you were either one or the other.

Matthew 24:12

Revelation 3:15

Desolate Making   thee desolate because of thy sins (KJV)

Micah 6:13

Discouraged Do not embitter your   children, or they will become discouraged

Colossians 3:21

Doubtful If   anyone… does not doubt in his heart but believes that what he says will   happen, it will be done for him

Mark 11:23

Hateful Whoever hates his brother   is in the darkness…the darkness has blinded him

1 John 2:11

Prideful People   will be lovers of themselves, lovers of money, boastful, proud, abusive,   disobedient…

2 Timothy 3:2

Rejected Ye reject the commandment   of God, that ye may keep you own tradition (KJV)

Mark 7:9

Resistance You   are just like your fathers: You always resist the Holy Spirit.Whosoever   therefore resisteth the power, resisteth the ordinance of God and they that   resist shall receive to themselves damnation (KJV).

So   do these also resist the truth: men of corrupt minds.

Acts 7:51

Romans 13:2

2Timothy 3:8

Sorrowful And ye now therefore have   sorrow (KJV)

John 16:22

Stubborn Stubbornness   is as iniquity and idolatry (KJV)

1 Samuel 15:23

Unbelief “I do believe; help me   overcome my unbelief!”

Mark 9:24

Do any of the above feelings remind you of times when you may have had ‘hard feelings’, ‘mixed feelings’, or ‘sinking feelings’- idioms that we are very familiar with?

“He hath blinded their eyes, and hardened their heart; that they should not see with their eyes, nor understand with their heart, and be converted, and I should heal them.” John 12:40 (KJV)

What hardens the heart? Stubbornness, Rebellion, Pride, Hate, Unbelief, Stiffneckedness and Resistance are only some of the examples I’ve quickly come up with. I know you can find many more than these and likely even better ones. It’s awesome how much direction in the scriptures we have been given, so that we can recognize the conditions (feelings) of our hearts.

“Why do you entertain evil thoughts in your hearts?” Matthew 9:4

“Out of the heart come evil thoughts” Matthew 15:19

“He rebuked them for their lack of faith and their stubborn refusal to believe…” Mark 16:14

“You stiff-necked people, with uncircumcised hearts and ears! You are just like your fathers: You always resist the Holy Spirit” Acts 7:51

“Whosoever therefore resisteth the power, resisteth the ordinance of God: and they that resist shall receive to themselves damnation” Rom 13:2 (KJV)

Hebrews chapter 3 is a marvelous passage that gives some clarity. “their hearts are always going astray”, “they have not known my ways”, “sinful, unbelieving heart”, hardened by sins deceitfulness”, “those who disobeyed”, “because of their unbelief”.

Now, think back to times you may have experienced the feelings below. What is the source of these feelings? When you experienced these feelings what did your heart feel? Warmth? Softness? Gentleness? A swelling, perhaps?


 (I feel…)



Affectionate And his affection for you is all the greater.Set your affection on things above (KJV)

2 Cor. 7:15

Col. 3:2

Comforted God, who comforts the   downcast, comforted us

2 Cor. 7:6

Confident It   is better to trust in the Lord, than to put confidence in man.I   had confidence in all of you.

Psalm  118:8

2 Cor. 2:3

Encouraged I am greatly encouraged

2 Cor. 7:4

Grateful Let   us come before Him with thanksgiving

Psalm 95:2

Joyful Let your heart give you  joy.So that My joy may be in you and that your joy may be complete

Ecclesiastes 11:9

John 15:11

Kind Be   kind and compassionate to one another…

Ephesians 4:32

Loved, Loving Love is patient, love is   kind.Love one another deeply,   from the heart.

1 Cor. 13:4

1 Peter 1:22

Peaceful May   the Lord of peace Himself give you peace at all times

2 Thess. 3:16

Reassured He hath given assurance   unto all men… (KJV)

Acts 17:31

Tender Because   thine heart was tender, and thou has humbled thyself

2 Kings 22:19

Warm (hearted) His word is in my heart   like a burning fire.Were not our hearts   burning within us while He talked with us

Jeremiah 20:9

Luke 24:32

Philippians 4:4-8 is a marvelous encouragement and I find it enlightening. Again the emphasis below is mine.

“Rejoice in the Lord always. I will say it again: Rejoice! Let your gentleness be evident to all. The Lord is near. Do not be anxious about anything, but in everything, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God. And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.

Finally…whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable-if anything is excellent or praiseworthy-think about such things.”

When one examines the scriptures regarding the feelings, thoughts and intents of the heart, it is astounding how many there are! If you have any good ones that come to mind, please do share them with us.

I’m running out of time…this is part one of Are Feelings Undependable? My next post will be a continuation of this important consideration.

I will leave you with an excerpt of a talk given at the April 182nd Annual General Conference. You may find the whole of it here:

“The more we allow the love of God to govern our minds and emotions—the more we allow our love for our Heavenly Father to swell within our hearts—the easier it is to love others with the pure love of Christ. As we open our hearts to the glowing dawn of the love of God, the darkness and cold of animosity and envy will eventually fade.

… Brothers and sisters, there is enough heartache and sorrow in this life without our adding to it through our own stubbornness, bitterness, and resentment.

We are not perfect. The people around us are not perfect. People do things that annoy, disappoint, and anger. In this mortal life it will always be that way. Nevertheless, we must let go of our grievances. Part of the purpose of mortality is to learn how to let go of such things. That is the Lord’s way.

Remember, heaven is filled with those who have this in common: They are forgiven. And they forgive.

Lay your burden at the Savior’s feet. Let go of judgment. Allow Christ’s Atonement to change and heal your heart. Love one another. Forgive one another.

The merciful will obtain mercy.

Of this I testify in the name of the One who loved so well and so completely that He gave His life for us, His friends—in the sacred name of Jesus Christ, amen.”  President Dieter F. Uchtdorf





2 Responses to Are Feelings Undependable?

  • Shanta says:

    If you said that emotions are notoriously undependable – I might not agree 100% but would agree more than saying feelings are…

    When I think in terms of “feeling” I think in terms of “gut feeling” “intuition” ” inner knowing” “the small inner voice” ….so my own current real life example:
    I’m sad and currently experiencing anger after the passing of my mother…but if I sit quietly and take the emotion away and ask myself “are you moving forward and will you be ok” – the small voice within “feels” the knowing I will be ok…
    And so I continue to move through the emotion which is difficult, but trusting the process with the feeling I will be ok.
    If I didn’t have that feeling, the emotion would be very scary and would add to my upsettedness.

    So, yes, emotions…all over the place – feeling(s) are our road map and I don’t believe God gives us faulty maps.

  • KCMarilyn Abney says:


    All true religion is a feeling. (Oscar McConkie.)

    Yes, we study the Gospel intensely for true doctrine, but many times our concerns will be answered in the scriptures and through the written word. On occassion, the answers are not clear or clearly understood, therefore, we establish our best answer and then seek the Lord’s confirmation because all of us, for our stewardship, warrant revelation through the Spirit.

    Numbers 11:29… “….Would God that all the Lords’ people were prophets and that the Lord would put His Spirit upon them.”

    We believe that all of God’s children are entitled to that Spirit and revelation. No loving parent would ever send their children away without the opportunity to communicate and receive information from them. We need confirmation often from our loving Father in Heaven, and we can get that through the Holy Ghost.

    D&C 121:33 “…As well might man stretch forth his puny arm to stop the Missouri River in it’s decreed course, or to turn it up stream, as to hinder the Almighty from pouring down knowledge from heaven upon the heads of the Latter-day Saints.”

    Joseph Smith was asked by the President of the United States, President Van Buren, “…what is the one difference between your church and any church on the face of the earth. Joseph Smith said (paraphrased), “The gift of the Holy Ghost.”

    We are directed to D&C 9:7-9.
    Here Oliver Cowdery was trying to translate the reformed Egyptian and he wasn’t able to do it. He became frustrated because he could not translate the language. Then he was admonished as follows:

    7. Behold you have not understood; you have supposed that I would give it unto you, when you took no thought save it was to ask me.
    8. But, behold, I say unto you, that you must studying it out in your mind; then you must ask me if it be right, and if it be right, I will cause that your bosom shall burn within you; therefore, you shall feel it is right.
    9. But if it be not right, you shall have no such feeling, but you shall have a stupor of thought that shall cause you to forget the thing which is wrong; therefore, you cannot write that which is sacred save it be give to you from me.

    When we study any question intensely, we make our own decision and then seek confirmation through the Holy Spirit. We study the scriptures, or the latest research, for the truth’s sake. Our Christian friends have studied the Bible intensely …for hundreds of years… and have developed conflicting dogma because they do not believe in revelation and some do not believe in the Holy Ghost. Thus, we have thousands of Christian churches.

    The Prophets through the ages have always sought answers to their questions through revelation and through the Holy Spirit. It has always been this way in Christ’s Church.

    Oh, that all people ..God’s children…were like the prophets…seeking truth through the Holy Spirit.

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