In our last issue we talked about the “Thought Cycle”. The diagram illustrated how thought, feeling and behaviour are related. What it didn’t describe accurately however, is the closeness of the relationship between thought and feeling. In truth, it’s as if the two are laminated. We cannot have a feeling without having a thought behind it. Every feeling is generated by a thought.
Historically, in the field of psychology, the focus has been on our family of origin or early childhood traumas and the painful feelings that we carried as a result. It was assumed that if we explored our feelings deeply enough, they’d lead us back into the past to the traumas or events that had created our discomfort and insecurities. This was assuming life to be an “outside-in” experience.
Within the last decades, there’s been a paradigm shift of monumental proportions. It’s been proposed, and subsequently scientifically proven, that the experience of life is an inside job. That is, we create our perception of reality and hence our experience. We have choice.
This idea has been suggested by wise men since the beginning of recorded history: “As we think, so are we.” Now, however, we’re able to discuss it and understand it in much simpler yet profound terms.
Every thought comes with a feeling attached to it in the moment. Although it may be a habitual thought whose origin lies in the past, it has no life except what we give it in the present.
But for our thinking and the feeling that comes with it, we would live in well-being more of the time, we would tap into our innate resiliency more frequently, and we would choose the high road more often.
How is it then that given a choice, we choose to live in mental discomfort, feel stuck in habitual thinking and often take the lower road of judgment, worry or fear?
Maybe we’re imagining the feeling that comes with each thought is telling us the truth about the world around us. Could it be that we’re taking the thought/feeling very seriously and personally? Could it be that we’re seeing life through old lenses. . . as an outside-in experience? “Losing my wallet made me furious.” “He made me so mad.” “I’ll never get over failing that test.” Outside-in doesn’t feel good.
Why would we settle for an experience of mental pain, insecurity and frustration when a life of gratitude, grace and calm is available to us?
As we see the true value of our feelings as a barometer of our thinking, we can be truly grateful for them, though they make us uncomfortable in the moment. We can begin to see that thoughts and feelings are the early warning system of our state of mind.
When we see the innocence behind our thinking and the logic of our feelings, we can step back—a step towards a more neutral stance. We can then begin to appreciate the power of thought and the possibilities available to us for a richer more profound experience. Like Sydney Banks says, “It’s just a thought away.”