To many, it may seem that things happen to us and that’s responsible for our feelings. You may recognise phrases such as:
I’m nervous because my boss called me into his office but I don’t know what for
My partner made me so angry because he didn’t get the groceries I asked for
My holiday away to the beach for two weeks made me so relaxed
There’s an underlying assumption here that external factors, something other than ourselves are responsible for the feelings we have. This leads many to feel at the mercy of the world around them and that they have no control over the emotional roller coaster they feel they are put on each and every day.
An additional step
Whilst most think this way, there is actually a step between. Before our feelings on any given matter, we think about the situation first. This is such a natural process so much so that we aren’t consciously aware of it. The thoughts we have, our perceptions of a situation dictate how we feel about it.
Lets try a little thought experiment. You’ve come into work and found out that you are being made redundant. Now in this situation, you may think:
This is terrible news, I don’t know how I’m going to pay the bills!
or you may think:
This is great news, I’m going to get a large severance package and know I can get another job fairly quickly so in fact it’s an unexpected bonus!
Take a moment to think about each of these responses and how you would feel in that scenario. If anything like me, you would have been terrified if the first thought popped into your head but ecstatic if the second thought had popped into your head. However, we should remember that the situation of being made redundant remains the same.
What does this mean for you
Many people feel like they are at the mercy of their feelings. As you start to see that your feelings are merely a reflection of your thoughts in a given moment, the feelings themselves start to hold less sway over you. When you are feeling down, you should pay attention to what you’re thinking about in the moment. This is where your feelings are coming from, not the outside world.
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