How Changing Your Thoughts Leads to Emotional Freedom
Do you sometimes feel like your emotions are getting in the way of your success and happiness? Do you find yourself feeling bogged down by negativity, anger or resentment? Are your fears keeping you from doing things that you might like to try? If so, here are some keys to changing these patterns and being much happier in your life.
Several folks have told me this week that they woke up feeling awful or anxious or something else negative. And that it was downhill from there for the rest of the day. Your Thoughts Not that unusual a conversation starter in my line of work as a therapist. And then I had a day like that myself…first time in a long time.
By 10AM I was well mired in doom and gloom, and then by 10:15 asked myself what was up with this? Several things occurred to me. Asking that question pushed me into Observer Mode rather than Reactor Mode. One thing was for sure: I was in the midst of doing some stinkin’ thinkin’ which was responsible for my glum mood and low energy.
This is how it works; it’s a big chain reaction in which one event gives rise to the next, and on and on, over and over again throughout the day. Or a few minutes if we are paying attention and intercede. Or a week, month, year or lifetime if we don’t.
– The Trigger Event is something that occurs outside of us; something that we generally have no control over.
– The Trigger Event in turn brings up a Thought. There are times when an emotion is instantly triggered, but it’s usually a thought.
– Emotion is then shaped by the thought. And these two factors, thought and emotion can go back and forth either strengthening the emotion or bringing up different emotions.
– Behavior comes next. We choose a behavior and this is the point where we have all the choice in the world, as well as the responsibility for whatever we do.
– Consequence is the last link in the chain. There is always some kind of consequence to the behavior that we do, and while we may predict it, the full consequence is out of our hands or control.
Here is an example of how this chain works. Robert is getting ready for work and half watching and listening to a morning television show while he dresses. He hears some bad news about the national economy (Trigger Event). His immediate thought is something like, “Things are just getting worse everywhere! What’s the use?” (Thought). This in turn evokes feelings of fear and helplessness (Emotion). He goes on for awhile thinking more along these lines until his emotions are amplified. By now he is taking this personally and wondering when his own job might be terminated, probably without notice. When his wife comes into the room to ask about when she should ask for time off the vacation they have planned, he curtly replies that she should forgot about a vacation this year; they can’t afford it! (Behavior). His bewildered wife asks why on earth he is saying this since they have saved for the vacation, and all their expenses are already covered. An argument ensues and as they both drive off to work, they both feel angry and frustrated. (Consequence).