How Thoughts and Feelings
Determine Our Reality
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Our thoughts and feelings are very closely linked, and at times, it can be quite a ‘chicken and egg’ situation to figure out whether our thoughts are triggering our emotions, or vice versa. Whichever way the connection flows, we can learn to manage our thoughts and emotions more effectively, and as a result experience happier, healthier, and more productive lives.
One important thing to realize is that it is within our power to choose both our thoughts and our habitual emotions. We need to be aware of the difference between habitual emotions which determine the way we generally tend to feel, day in and day out, and situational emotions which are a reaction to a specific event. It is with habitual emotions that the connection between thoughts and feelings can be used to create a happier emotional state.
With situational emotions, such as sadness over the end of a relationship or fear, anger, and frustration over a job loss, simply ‘thinking positive’ is not going to shift the emotions. These emotions need to be felt, heard, and expressed before they will be able to release their hold over us. It is at that point when the feelings have been processed, that we can bring our focus back to lifting our moods by improving our thinking.
When it comes to changing habitual emotions, we need to become aware of the thoughts and beliefs that are behind them and work at changing those thought patterns.
Changing our thoughts is a relatively simple process, although it can take a lot of awareness, effort and persistence. To change a thought simply requires being conscious of what we are thinking, and deliberately replacing the thoughts that are not helping us with new and positive thoughts. One of the keys to being able to successfully change our thoughts is to pay attention, as frequently as possible, to what we are thinking. Often it is the way we are feeling that can give us an indication something is amiss with our thinking.
The next time you notice yourself feeling grumpy, out-of-sorts, or miserable for no clearly apparent reason, stop and ask yourself ‘why?’ There is always a reason for a mood, and the reason is almost always based on our thinking. Very often you will find that your feelings are a result of negative thoughts that spiral out of all proportion when left unquestioned. Often, we are not even conscious of these thoughts, they just buzz around under the surface of our days, pricking at our minds, and stirring up our feelings.
Perhaps you really dislike the job you are doing and feel you are underpaid and unappreciated. You would love to find a job that brings you satisfaction and more money. While the physical action of going to a job that you don’t enjoy every day can definitely present a challenge to keeping in a positive frame of mind, the biggest culprit of your unhappiness is your thinking about your situation.
Some common thoughts in this situation include, ‘this job is a waste of my time,’ ‘I am never going to find a job I like,’ ‘there is nothing that I am qualified for that would bring me the enjoyment and money I want,’ ‘I am stuck in this job forever,’ ‘I’m a failure in my career,’ and on and on. Wow! Is it any wonder you feel terrible? The job might not be great, but the thoughts you are allowing to control your mind and influence your feelings are enough to make anyone miserable! And what’s more, as well as making you unhappy, these thoughts are going to make it hard if not impossible for you to make clear decisions and take positive steps to finding work that is more in line with what you want.
The way to turn this situation around is to start with improving your thoughts and feelings. Try focusing your attention on the things that you do want to experience rather than wallowing in the misery of what you don’t want. Look for what you can gain in your current situation, and put most of your energy into building a picture of what your dream job is going to look like. Start replacing the negative thoughts with some affirmations along the lines of: ‘I am now finding work that is truly right for me,’ ‘I have many skills and talents to bring to doing work I love,’ ‘I deserve to be challenged, fulfilled and rewarded in my work,’ ‘I am learning new things and gaining valuable experience every day,’ and ‘I am an intelligent and valuable person with so much to offer.’
It is such a common habit to allow our thoughts to run amok unnoticed, and only to notice the feelings of discontent, irritability, or anxiety that result from uncensored and unconscious thoughts. An unfortunate fact is that very few of us have a natural tendency to think positively. Statistics show that about 80% of the 12 000 to 60 000 thoughts that an average person has in a day are negative.
Now obviously, there is no way that you can stop and notice each one of these thoughts as they arise. They are often background chatter that occurs while we are involved in various activities. What is important, though, is to notice the negative patterns of thought that we tend to have, and make a conscious decision to start replacing them with patterns of thought that uplift us rather than drag us down. Rather than trying to change each individual thought, we can work on increasing our inclination to think positively.
Since most of our thoughts occur while we are occupied with everyday tasks, one thing we can do is to provide ourselves with an environment that creates more positive energy and promotes more optimistic thoughts and feelings. Some ways that can be effective in doing this are to surround yourself with things and people that make you feel good, play upbeat or soothing music whenever you can, and have pictures or objects that raise your spirit around your home and workspace. Read and listen to as much inspirational material as you can, and make reading, writing, reciting and/or listening to affirmations a priority in your day. Decide what type of thoughts and feelings you would like to have, and start reprogramming your mind to make these thoughts and feelings a habit.
Our thoughts and feelings determine our actions, and our actions shape our reality. With powerful, positive thoughts and feelings, creating the reality of your dreams is simply a matter of time.
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