The Thought / Feeling Paradox and how you can master it.Apr 05, 2021
Let’s talk about feelings. Let’s just go there, just for a bit. Does this make you uncomfortable? You are not alone. I find this all the time in my coaching. I ask someone how they “feel” and they can’t answer me.
As a coach, I spend a lot of time teaching parents about feelings, why they’re important, how to tune in to their own feelings, and how to help their kids navigate their negative feelings too.
Feelings are key to so many things in our lives, but most people don’t understand the role that they play or why they are so important, starting with where they even come from.
Before you read further - what do you think comes first, the thought or the feeling?
Most people think that feelings are due to the circumstances occurring in their life, and that feelings just happen. Have you ever heard you or someone else say - “I can’t help it, that’s how I feel”? The feelings “happen” and THEN they have a bunch of thoughts about it.
Most people think it goes in this order:
The circumstance occurs, feelings happen, and then you have thoughts about it.
Unfortunately, that is like being in a boat without a rudder during a storm. You are at the mercy of what is happening in your life, and you are giving control of your feelings and all of your power away to everything that happens outside of you.
That – my friends is like putting the cart before the horse, because in reality that’s not how it works, and this is a really good thing. Knowing that your thoughts are creating your feelings, and truly understanding this concept, has the power to give you ALL of your power back.
It actually goes in this order:
Circumstances occur, we have thoughts about the circumstances, and our thoughts create our feelings.
That can be a lot to wrap your head around, so I’m going to give you a couple of examples to help this make more sense.
Imagine that a dear friend or loved one goes to the doctor for a regular check-up and receives an unexpected and negative health diagnosis. You would think that something like that would make you feel worried, anxious, and afraid.
But what if you were on vacation when your dear friend went to the doctor, and she decided not to tell you until you got back because she didn’t want to ruin your vacation. The health diagnosis already existed, but you didn’t know anything about it. You didn’t have any thoughts about it yet, so you didn’t feel anything about it one way or the other. When you find out about the diagnosis, you may have thought something like “I don’t want to lose my dear friend” and that thought creates fear, anxiety, and worry.
Now, imagine that it was a very controversial public figure that received a negative health diagnosis. This public figure is loved by some, and hated by others. So imagine when news of the health diagnosis is released, some people end up feeling sad, anxious, and worried, but other people may have felt justified or even happy because they had a thought that this public figure deserves it.
Same circumstances, but totally different thoughts, which created totally different feelings. This big idea is a lot to think absorb, but trust me – when you understand this and begin to apply it to your life it can be a game-changer.
Take a few minutes and think about the circumstances in your life, and try to separate the facts from your thoughts about it. Do you have situations in your life where you are giving power over your emotions away to the circumstance? Look for ways to take that power back just by realizing that it’s your thought that is creating how you feel. You may feel justified in your thoughts which is totally fine. You don’t have to change your thoughts or how you feel, just know that it is your choice to feel that way because of what you are thinking.
Now, if you're one of those people who have been ignoring their feelings for a long time (or always) it may be a struggle to get started. In the process of helping others with this, I find that the easiest way to start is to ask yourself What Am I Feeling, choose a single emotion like anxious, angry, frustrated, or scared, and then ask yourself “why?”.
A number of reasons should come up - and those are your thoughts.
Please take note! You may believe that these thoughts are facts, but typically, they are not. A fact will be unilaterally true for everyone in the world. Everything else is just your thought!
Becoming aware of your thoughts and the feelings that they are creating is the first step in becoming a conscious parent. This work can be uncomfortable but it has the potential to change your life and the lives of your kids so please hang in there.
This is the first of a series of articles that I will be writing on Feelings. I’m also going to be teaching a free masterclass on understanding feelings and helping your kids navigate negative feelings in April 2021. If you’re interested in learning more about it or registering, click on the link below!
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