What's causing your emotions never comes from outside of you.
In my last blog, Your mind and the external world are two separate things I introduced you to a concept that is a founding block for helping you to start learning to feel less anxious and start feeling better.
I highly recommend you to read it to better understand what I’ll be teaching you today.
- Our mind and the external world are two separate things.
- How you view the world through your mind and your thoughts doesen’t represent how the world really is — simply because we can change our thoughts whereas the facts will still remain the same.
- External world (facts) doesn’t cause your feelings. Your thoughts (meaning) do.
- You are always 100% in control of your thoughts.
- Emotions don’t just “happen” to you. They are self — created, always.
- You are able to alter how you feel emotionally by altering your thoughts, no matter what.
The most important takeaway from that blog is this:
Facts are always neutral.
It is easier to think about thoughts that are neutral than thoughts that consume lot of your energy. Thought that come with resentment, anger, fear and judgement.
Anxious people are familiar with this. Carrying anxious thoughts can consume so much energy that it’s sometimes impossible to even get out bed.
When you start deliberately seeing the world as it is — rather than automatically filtering the world through expectations your experience of the world will become much more peaceful.
Now, watch out. I did not suggest positive thinking here as an antidote!
That, my friend, might be too advanced if you are just recovering from anxiety and first need to learn how to see the world as it isin order to feel neutral.
This is an essential step so that you can start using the residual energy for doing things that you’d typically do without your energy being drained into anxiety and being exhausted.
After publishing that blog, I went home and started reading a book Robert Dilts, Sleight of mouth,where I came across with this sentence that really resonated with what I wrote earlier and sums it all up nicely:
“People who are successful and enjoy life have the ability to experience more of the world directly, rather than dilute it through the filters of what they should experience or expect to experience”.
Let that sink in for a minute.
Why are the people who experience the world directly are successful and happy, you may ask?
Because when our energy isn’t automatically drained into anxious thoughts, we get to 1. feel better (calm, happy), 2. get stuff done (end procrastination) and 3. go towards doing and achieving things that are complicated, challenging and that requires mental strength and focus (Success).
What is success?
Not everyone is after the expensive car and the millionaire beach lifestyle. No! Success can be anything from being able to leave the house, go outside in public and buy a bottle of milk, being able to focus, study and graduate, apply for jobs and face interviews, go to a party and talk to someone, stop smoking and losing the weight and starting dating after a decade since their partner passed away.
Most of my clients want to confront the difficult people in their lives, be happy again, connect with others in a deep level, stop procrastinating, enjoy creativity and recover from social anxiety. They want to do scary and difficult things that requires focus and energy.
Whatever success means to you it’s available to you — it lives right there, behind your anxiety.
It all starts with being able to see how the world is, as it is. Feeling neutral towards it instead of automatically negative. Positive thinking can wait until later.
Aligning yourself with reality is not easy if you’ve been thinking about your life in a certain way for a very long time.
That’s why we’ll first have to learn to break this mental construct into separate, digestible components — and not relying just on positive thinking only — especially if you are suffering from anxiety.
So let’s say you’re feeling bad. You just came home, and you’re about to hit the refrigerator, looking for that emergency tub of ice cream or that leftover wine from yesterday. Something happened at work that still somehow lingers in your system and you just want it to stop.
This is how our work starts. Before you hit the fridge, I highly recommend that you first understand why you’re feeling bad.
What is it that’s causing you to feel bad?
Now, stop here. Think.
Hear me out.
It’s nothing outside of you.
It’s nothing in the external world that’s causing you to feel that way.
It’s not that person
It’s not what was said
It’s not what happened.
It’s nothing you saw, read or heard.
Because everything outside of us is a fact.
Facts don’t cause your feelings.
This means that by trying to find the cause from outside of you will not be helpful to you. Never.
What you need to do instead is to find the internal cause.
We are only able to interpret the world WITH our mind.
There’s just no other way. That’s why you have to find the cause for your emotions. Only you can do it because no one else has access inside your mind.
Emotions are never caused by anything external. What you THINK about the presented stimuli will either make you feel better or worse.
The cause of how you feel is what you think. Thoughts that only lives inside of your mind.
How you feel now is caused by a sentence that you have in your mind right now.
This thought, this sentence is the cause for how you feel. Not the facts.
So rule number one:
Learn to separate the facts from thoughts.
How to do it?
Let’s say someone looked at you in a way that YOU interpret being negative.
You may have a thought like “She gave me that look”.
You may feel anxious and bothered.
So let's separate:
Fact: A person looking at you (neutral)
This is what really happened.
Everyone can agree on it if shown video evidence from security camera for example.
Thought: “It must mean something negative.” (meaning, story)
This happened in your mind.
Only you have access to the information in your mind. Not everyone would agree what the look means. However this is what causes the emotion in you.
Remember facts are always neutral. They don’t make you feel anything.
Thoughts will make you feel something.
So go there. Look at the thought. And notice:
Just because you have that thought it doesn’t automatically mean that what you think is the reality.
Because our mind and the external world are not the same thing.
That’s it. Start from there.
Find the thoughts, meanings and interpretations that are causing you to feel negative. Don’t look for the cause outside of your mind because it won’t serve you, it will only make you feel worse. That’s the first step.
All our emotions are self-created.
How our mind works and how our emotions are created always follows this formula:
Circumstance (Fact) -> Thought (About the fact) causes -> Feelings & Emotions
Always in this order. Never the other way around. Facts don’t cause your emotions. Your thoughts do.
Circumstance: A person looking at you (Neutral fact. Non-judgemental stimuli that is being presented to you).
Thought: “It must mean something negative.”
Feeling & Emotion: Anxious, wanting to escape and hide.
So go there. To the thoughts. Not to the facts.
So before you open the refrigerator ask yourself what is your thought that is separate from the fact and is causing you to feel that way?
Truly understanding that nothing outside of you causes your emotions -but your own thoughts- gives you your power back. This means that your emotions are no longer dependent on what happens around you.
So to recap,
- Step one: we have to understand that our mind and the external world are notthe same thing.
- Step two: we have to separate the thoughts from facts to find the real cause that’s creating our feelings. Truth never lives outside of us. And that’s a good thing.
- Step three: understand that you are always in charge of what goes on in your mind.
See you on the next blog "How your thoughts create emotional pain"
If you are feeling like you aren't able to cope with what goes on in your life and can't find a way out from the stressful work or personal situation you are in I highly recommend taking advantage of the free consultation that you can apply for here.
I will be happy to help you to tackle and break down the intricate thought patterns that are keeping you stuck in an anxious state. Reading free advice online, buying more self-help books and living in denial can only get you so far. When everything else fails, we are here for you.
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