How Conscious Thought Leads to Beneficial Feelings
Do not be a slave to your passions. Make them work for you!Strict Jane
In my previous article [HERE], I explained how our thoughts create pathways that the mind will default to, and that it is just as easy for the brain to foster a network of supportive thoughts as it is to foster a myriad of unsupportive thoughts. The point is that YOU get to choose which thought pathways you’ll build and strengthen.
The same applies in respect to your FEELINGS. You have the ability to consciously encourage a series of emotions that will encourage you, rather than discourage you, when facing any situation. In other words, you can have feelings that are pleasant and beneficial rather than suffer through feelings that are unpleasant.
Our thoughts lead to the emotions we feel. As energetic beings (electrical beings made up of atoms, which are made up of electrons whizzing around a nucleus), we vibrate according to our thoughts. Whatever it is we are thinking, we are sure to have feelings that directly correlate to those thoughts. Your mind and its thoughts are the precursors to your feelings.
YOUR THOUGHTS >> lead to >> YOUR FEELINGS
A Fun Little Analogy…
Let’s watch how your thought/feeling connection plays out with an analogy about a child. We’ll sit this child in the middle of a nice, mossy forest. Then, we’ll see what emotions emerge in the child after sharing some ideas with him/her.
Let’s tell the child that the forest is a dark and dangerous place, full of wild animals; and that behind every tree is a hungry bear or a cougar, waiting to attack. How do you think the child will react if you leave them alone for 10 minutes? Unless that child is unusually robust, you could expect fear, terror and panic in one screaming child.
Now, let’s redo our scenario. This time, we’ll tell the child that the forest is a wonderful place to explore, with shy but friendly animals and amazing trees and rocks to climb. How do you think the child will react if you leave them there alone? The child will be so busy playing and having fun that they won’t even notice. They will be feeling a mix of joy, curiosity, boldness and whatever else a happy child feels.
Being in a forest is a circumstance. It is the same forest (circumstance) in both cases, but it appears differently to the child, according to the thoughts that we fed into his/her head, and these thoughts directly affect the feelings the child has about the forest. As adults, we operate in the same way. At any given moment, we have a circumstance to deal with. Our thoughts determine how we feel about each circumstance. The trick is to curate your thoughts in order to generate the feelings that will best serve you in any given circumstance.
Let’s break this down into the various elements…
A circumstance is always neutral. The circumstance is made up of facts. It is the situation in which we find ourselves. Things happen, or they don’t happen. Either way, it’s a circumstance. We project our thoughts and feelings onto a circumstance and make it seem good or bad as a result. The circumstance is neither positive or negative. It just is. Life is made up of circumstances that we must deal with in our own ways.
We have thoughts about a circumstance, or, in other words, a circumstance prompts us to have thoughts. Either way, it is your mind doing the heavy lifting here. The circumstance simply exists and our thoughts happen in relation to a given circumstance. Our thoughts lead to judgements, feelings and actions in relation to a circumstance. Our thoughts are not facts. They are the connection of ideas, and they originate from the experiences and learnings that our brains have so far absorbed in life.
Emotions are the result of neurological arousal in response to something. They are biological and can be pinpointed to specific areas of the brain. Basically, emotions are neurological reactions to an emotional stimulus. There is a set of universally-agreed upon emotions that we, as humans, are able to experience, such as sadness, happiness, fear, anger, surprise and disgust. Emotions are different to feelings, although related.
Feelings are the conscious experience of emotional reactions. Your feelings are triggered by your emotions. Your feelings are uniquely shaped by your own experiences, beliefs, memories, and thoughts and how they link to that emotion.
We feel a certain way about a circumstance because of our emotional reaction to it, how we think about it and how we interpret both our emotional reaction and our thoughts.
We can manipulate how we FEEL about a circumstance, and we can even reduce the impact of the underlying emotions when we are conscious about it.
You might be asking what it means when I talk about ‘conscious thought’ or ‘raising your consciousness’?
It means to be aware of the thoughts passing through your mind. To do so, you must increase your self-vigilance. It’s like being a fly on the wall of your mind, watching what goes on in there. Instead of being caught up in each scene of your daily life, you become the director watching the actors from afar. When you see something you don’t like, you have the opportunity to edit on the spot. That is how you manage the thoughts that pass through your mind. You can only do this by being conscious about those thoughts.
When you are facing a circumstance that would normally be challenging, you always have the opportunity to step away from your usual conditioned thoughts and try something new in their place. Again, you must first be conscious about them. That’s how we intentionally create new ‘thought roads’ and that is how we create the feelings we want to feel.
Finn is about to go on a first date. Here are his thoughts: ‘I think this person is The One. First impressions count and I can’t afford to mess this date up like I normally do. I just hope I’m good enough. I must be on my best behaviour at all times so I don’t say something stupid. I have to be funny, even though I’m not funny, because girls like that. I mustn’t look nervous.’ Following these thoughts, you might not be surprised to learn that Finn felt nervous during his date. He was so busy thinking negatively about himself that he appeared to be self-absorbed and awkward. The date did not go well and Finn felt even worse about himself after it, which meant he spiralled into further self-defeating thoughts that came with feelings of shame, self-disgust, embarrassment, hopelessness and loneliness.
Now, let’s redo the situation and give Finn some new thoughts before his date: ‘I’m going to settle in and enjoy getting to know this woman. It’s all about making sure she has a good time. I’m looking forward to a nice dinner out with someone I’m curious to get to know. Whether we are meant to be together, or not, is up to fate. I’m just going to show up and be myself and see whether we like each other.’ This time around, Finn felt relaxed during his date. This meant he was able to remain in a state of good humour and curiosity about the woman he was seeing, and they made a strong connection by talking about the things she was into. Later, Finn felt good about himself and he had feelings of optimism, pride, confidence and joy.
Can you see how the circumstance was a first date? The fact was that two people, who did not know each other, were going to eat a meal together in a restaurant. In both cases, Finn’s thoughts shaped his feelings about the circumstance. See how Finn’s thoughts led to the feelings he was to have, as well as the outcomes he had? This is often the case, where our feelings about something create the outcomes that we get. Remember that the feelings are always preceded by thoughts!
Circumstance: You come home from a long day at work. Your house needs to be tidied and cleaned. There is clutter on most surfaces and it smells weird in the kitchen.
The same thoughts as usual go through your mind: ‘What a dump. I can’t find anything in here, it’s so messy. I hate it. There’s no point cleaning it now, I’m too tired. What’s that smell in the kitchen? Oh well, I’ll deal with it tomorrow. I wish I could afford a cleaner. I’ll wait til the weekend to do it. Maybe I should just move to a bigger place.’ The feelings that follow are those of being tired, defeated, frustrated, cranky, unorganised and ashamed. A lack of action is the result, which leaves the house in a messy and smelly state.
Let’s put some new thoughts in there: ‘Hello, messy house! What can I do about this situation tonight? Hmm, I’ve got 30 minutes to spare after dinner, so I’ll use that time to spruce up something. I can get the kitchen tidied and cleaned in 30 minutes and I’ll even mop the floor at the end. I can survive 30 minutes of cleaning, even if I am tired! Tomorrow, I’ll work on the living room. With a bit of effort each night, I’ll soon have this place sorted. That will leave my weekend free for the fun stuff.’ The feelings that follow will be of optimism, determination and motivation. Energised action will follow and the house will be cleaned and further positive feelings will follow with a clean house to live in.
Circumstance: You have a work deadline to meet and you are behind schedule.
Original thoughts: ‘I’ll never get it done on time. I’m going to fail dismally and get fired. It’s my own fault, too. I should have started this earlier. I can’t tell anyone how behind I am, it’s too shameful.’ Feelings that follow will be of shame, fear, panic, overwhelm, hopelessness. The result is that the deadline will most likely not be met.
New thoughts: ‘Okay, so this is tight, but it’s not impossible. What is the most important thing to get done first? What can be left a little later? I’m going to work in a focused way and get it done. It is possible to get this done on time. Who can I ask to help me? What can I delegate? What can I do to NOT get interrupted while I finish this? First thing I’ll do is create a plan for getting this done…’ Feelings that follow will be of determination, optimism, organisation, and do-ability. The result is that the deadline will be met.
Recap and Parting Thoughts
Now that you’ve read through these ideas, you should have absorbed the following:
A circumstance is factual. It may be a series of factual things that create a situation (circumstance) we are dealing with. We project our thoughts and feelings into each circumstance. The same circumstance might be terrible for one person and wonderful for another. It all depends on how we relate to it.
Thoughts can either be supportive or unsupportive about a circumstance. We can change the way we think about things; anytime, anywhere. We do this by raising our awareness to our thoughts and by changing our thoughts in each moment.
Feelings will follow on from the thoughts we have. Unsupportive thoughts will lead to negative (unpleasant) feelings. Conversely, supportive thoughts will lead to positive (pleasant) feelings. It’s up to you to choose how you feel about things.
How we feel about things will lead to the action we take, or not take. Again, we can choose to feel a certain way and act a certain way. It all starts with our thoughts.
Thought-roads can be changed in your mind. The old, unsupportive ways of thinking can be left to grass over while the new, supportive ways of thinking will build into bigger and faster roads. The more we travel these supportive roads with our supportive thoughts, the more functional and able we will be in our complex world.
Can you now see how a thought leads to the results you get in life? It starts with our thoughts, and that is why a life coach will help you to work on your thoughts. Once you get your thoughts aligned with what you want in life…well, that is where the magic occurs.