Thoughts/Beliefs Cause Emotions

Are you still not convinced that it’s your thoughts that cause your feelings?  Here is an exercise that you can do to help you see the linkage.

As you go about your daily life you will notice feeling cropping up all the time.

  • Are you feeling good or bad?
  • What are your thoughts at the moment when you are feeling good or bad?

This example depicts both a positive and negative scenario. Take a moment and try this first exercise:

Positive Scenario:  Imagine a place in the world where you would love to travel.  Picture the surroundings.  What are you doing there? What is the weather like?  How does it smell?  Are you with anyone?  When you picture this scenario in your mind you will be generating some sort of emotion about this place as well.  You cannot help but generate emotions related to your thoughts.  What are you feeling?  Write down three emotions that you are feeling when thinking about where you want to travel.  Now take these emotions and write down the thoughts that you were thinking of at the time you were feeling these emotions.  For example if you were feeling warm, comfortable, happy, or joyful, then you will likely have produced thoughts of “the temperature in this place is warm and pleasant.”,  “the people are friendly”, “this place is clean”, “this place is exciting and vibrant” etc…

Now that we have experimented with a positive scenario, let’s look at a negative one to demonstrate the difference

Negative Scenario:  Imagine a place that you do NOT want to go to.  Imagine the surroundings of this place.  What are you doing there? What is the weather like?  How does it smell?  Are you with anyone?  Once you picture this negative scenario you will again be generating a variety of emotions.  What are you feeling?  Write down three emotions that you are feeling when thinking about where you do not want to travel to.  Now take these emotions and write down the thoughts that you were thinking of at the time you were feeling these emotions.  For example if you are feeling discomfort, fear, or irritation, then you will likely have produced thoughts like “this place is cold”, “this place is crowded and unfriendly”,  “this place is riddled with crime”, “this place smells”.

While you’ve examined yourself as you’ve conducted these exercises for both the positive and negative scenarios, did you notice a difference in your feelings?  When you examined your own thoughts, did you notice a difference in your thoughts?

Most likely you noticed positive feelings and thoughts in the scenario where you were picturing a place you would like to travel to and negative emotions and thoughts in the scenario where you were picturing a place that you would not like to travel to.

Truth be told, not every thought will cause an emotion.  In order for a thought to cause an emotion, it MUST be a thought that you believe to be true.  Look back at your thoughts in the previous exercise.  Where these thoughts all true facts about that scenario?  Did you believe these thoughts?

Once you see the link between thoughts/beliefs and emotions/feelings, you can then see a way out of feeling badly.  It is now possible to change your feelings by changing your thought/beliefs.  How does one do that?  Have a look at the exercises laid out on this website and you can start your path to feeling better.