How your thoughts create emotional pain.
Hi there again!
So good to see you here. Today is a super hot day here in London, so I decided to pop here in the coolness of The London Library. They have many old books here (some even from the 1700's) and so to preserve them for another couple of 100 years they have to keep the temperature nice and low.
I must say, nothing beats the silence of a big library and the smell of old books. Very inspiring place. I love coming here and disappear in between the endless rows of bookshelves and write my blog right here, surrounded by the spirit of the great minds.
Today we'll be tuning into my favourite subject again, the thoughts and emotions. Ah, why I love this subject so much is simply because EVERYTHING starts there.
What you think and how you'll feel will determine how the rest of your day, rest of your year or the rest of your life will go.
In my last blog "What's causing your emotions never comes from outside of you" we learned that
- in order to start reducing anxiety, you have to first separate your thoughts from facts. This will help you to see what is real and what's imagined - which in return will help you to feel less anxious and reactive.
- your thoughts are making you feel something - not what happened, not the other person, not what you saw.
- truth never exists outside of you
- because you are always 100% in control of your mind you are always 100% in charge of your thoughts and hence 100% in control of your emotions.
The most important takeaway from that blog is that
even if your eyes are seeing the world as it is your mind will turn everything into a meaning.
Living with unsupervised, anxious mind is not pleasant. If you are an anxious person and you leave your mind on its own devices it will think thoughts that will hurt you. Over and over again.
Because it's used to it.
Whatever brain knows how to do very well - due to rigorous practice over many years - it will not be happy for you to suddenly change it.
And that's why you are here my friend.
Together we'll start to learn to heal the mind so that it won't automatically create pain for of you.
I love analogies so I will use one of them here again.
Imagine that you have little, judgemental person sitting inside your head. He is watching the world through two big windows, your eyes. Let's say this little person looks like an old-fashioned judge with the white wig, banging his hammer. He is seeing the world through your eyes, judging literally everything he sees, all of the time.
"That is BAD!" (bang the hammer).
"This is GOOD!" (bang the hammer).
"This is REALLY BAD!" (bang bang).
"That is a no-no, it's death sentence that, PANIC!" (Bang bang bang!)
"We're all going to die! Nothing will ever work!" (Bang! Bang! Bang! Bang!)
The little judge is going crazy inside your head from all the judging but because he is so little there is nothing much he can do about the rage that he is dealing with.
So he will therefore send an emotion through YOUR body so that you'll definitely FEEL his message.
And that feeling, my friend, is an emotion.
And this is why we have to learn to separate thoughts from facts. So that we don't automatically bang ourselves into believing that anything outside of us is causing how we feel.
Whatever the world is presenting to us we have the choice to decide how we want to feel about it.
But why do we have to have a this little judge dude living inside our head, sending painful emotions into our bodies?
Why can't we have a compassionate, loving and kind angel sitting in there instead?
"That is lovely".
"I'm good and capable"
"She is a kind person".
"That's not so bad".
"This is really good, well done, me".
"Life is beautiful, and everyone loves each other".
"Everything will always work out".
And then feel her sending all these lovely, calming and serene emotions through of your body so that you can really FEEL her message instead.
Wouldn't that be amazing?
Good news is that you are always in control of your mind.
This means that you can start learning how to alter it. You can create any emotion inside you that you want. Whether you want an angry judge or a compassionate angel judging the world around you get to decide who is looking through those eyes.
But it's not that easy.
The bad news is that your mind doesn't want to change.
It wants you to keep thinking the same thoughts that its been thinking since forever.
Learning to change requires time, commitment and real-life practice. Especially if you've been anxious for many years.
If this is you, I want to congratulate you because by reading this blog you're already taking a step towards learning the basics of mind management.
You won't be able to get rid of your judge entirely, ever. For the rest of your life, you'll always be going to feel 50% negative and 50% positive.
Eternal bliss is not real, even if the advertising industry wants you to believe in it.
But why not?
there is no good without the bad.
What you consider good or bad is something you can alter, always. You always have a choice.
And here's the thing:
To start recovering from anxiety the first rule is to learn to see the world as it is, without judgement, and align yourself with the reality.
This is from where all recovery starts from. It will reduce the amount of negative emotion being sent into your body, so that you can have space to think, pause, breath and only then respond how you want to respond - instead of just reacting to things. This kind of work is life-changing.
After aligning with reality our goal together is to start moving towards the compassionate mind.
Hear me out on this one: your mind - the Judge / the Angel, whatever - is not only judging what your eyes are able to see.
They are also judging and making meanings out of EVERYTHING you see through your mind's eye.
That's the crazy bit.
You get sent emotions through your body from just thinking thoughts. It doesn't have to be anything you see in front of you. It doesn't have to be real. Just imagined stuff that doesn't even exist in the real world.
Your mind doesn't know what is real and what isn't. It automatically believes that everything it sees through the eyes or through the mind's eye IS REAL.
Hence the emotional turmoil.
Think about this. If I’d ask you to think about something really sad, you’d begin to create images with your thoughts that automatically start to making you feel negative emotion.
Now, advertising industry knows this very well. They know how to make you feel something and then buy things. Even the stuff that you don’t need!
How do they do that?
By manipulating your thinking.
They present you with images or ideas that make you associate it to something. They tell you a story — that makes you feel an emotion.
Notice: nothing is really happening in an external world.
You are just looking at the pictures, hearing the radio, seeing a billboard, looking a double page spread ad on a glossy magazine, seeing a TV commercial, watching a promotional video on social media, that’s it.
But how are you feeling so much of emotion then?
The reason you are feeling so much emotion is what you are thinking- not what you’re seeing.
And that’s precisely what happens in your life. You look at life like it’s a set of images, like a movie.
It’s funny I went to see the “Warhorse” play in a London West End theatre a few years ago and I had my 15 years old step brother with me. The play made most of the people in the audience cry. While myself and the majority of the audience were bawling our eyes out my little brother was just sitting there and laughing like Nelson from The Simpsons. HAAHAA!
But how is that possible? We were watching the exact same play!
Answer: what we thought about the play was very different.
Some facts are part of the deal of something you have to do or want to do.
Another funny example, I have friends who get very angry seeing advertising in a cinema before the film starts. They mutter, whine and squirm in their seats, exhaling loud and moan URGH. They just cannot accept the fact that there are always adverts before the film.
As if they'd have a choice about it.
But this is the thing: ads in cinemas are part of the deal of cinema experience. Yet every time they go to a cinema they are willing to experience a negative emotion — for a good 20 minutes — before the film starts.
Circumstance: Advertising in cinema (neutral fact)
Thought: “There shouldn’t be ads.” (judgement) Bang!
Feeling & Emotion: Angry, frustrated
There they are, sitting in the cinema and hoping for things to be different. Feeling annoyed and frustrated. And yet, YET, it won’t make the ads go away — not even when they put so much time, effort and energy in thinking this way.
Where in your life do you apply this same — funnily insane — way of thinking?
When do you fight with realty, a part of the deal and yet feeling resistance, annoyance and willingness to go through a negative cycle inside of your mind?
What is a place for you where you feel negative emotion yet it’s a place where you have to keep on going on a regular basis?
People either get or don’t get frustrated because the way they interpret the world. So regardless of what’s going on in your life, what you THINK will either make you feel better or worse.
I’m using this cinema example because its light, (and a bit hilarious to be fair) but in all seriousness, the ads in a cinema (part of the deal) could represent
- the difficult people at your workplace
- your in-law’s
- public speaking
- writing a book
- gym that you want to go to but avoid.
What is the part of the deal, the things or people that comes with it, the stimuli that makes you think anxious thoughts — already here and now - without even physically being in that place?
Stay focused what you are thinking about those facts.
Find the thoughts from inside of you.
You have just found the cause behind your negative emotions.
Here’s the good news:
You are able to change the cause of your emotions, even if the facts will never change.
Let’s go back to my friends who hate commercials in cinemas.
I’ve, of course, explained all the above to those friends, that ads in cinema don’t cause their feelings but they do it themselves and all the yada yada, but they still choose to continue thinking in this negative way.
Choosing to hate cinema ads means they will automatically feel negative emotion EVERY time they go to a cinema.
Let’s say cinema ads goes on for 20 minutes. If they go to cinema let’s say, once a week, it means 20 more minutes of negative emotion added in their life. Voluntarily!
A) avoid the facts in order to feel better (No cinema, no commercials, no negative emotion)
B) learn to alter their thoughts about the ads in order to feel better?
To change your life B is always the right answer.
Well, they could always avoid cinemas, of course, that is a choice. But what if they like movies? What if they like going to cinema — A LOT?
Similarly, what if you do have to go to work, what if you are married and have to regularly visit your partners parents, what if you do want to lose weight and exercise, what if you really want to write that book?
You can’t always change the external world, but you can learn to alter the way you experience it.
- Your thoughts creates your emotions. Whether what you think it's real or imagined. You'll feel the emotions associated to it regardless.
- You are always in control of your thoughts and hence you are always in control of your emotions.
- What you THINK will either make you feel better or worse.
- You are able to change the cause of your emotions, even if the facts will never change.
- Eternal bliss is not possible because there is no good without the bad, hence you'll always going to feel 50% positive and 50% negative at any give time.
See you in my next blog!
If you are feeling like you’re going through challenges that you aren’t any longer able to brush aside, wipe under a carpet or think positively about it, it’s time to take advantage of our free consultation that you can apply for here.
I will be happy to help you to tackle them 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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