How our thoughts generate our feelings and how to control this process.
17 Apr 2005
People have discussed what a thought is for thousands of years. I'm going to talk about a characteristic of a thought. I want to consider the idea of a thought as a force.
Science has taught us that everything is energy, and Einstein came up with the equation Energy equals Mass times the Speed of Light squared. This is great until someone asks 'But what is Energy?' In the end our scientist can describe all sorts of characteristics of energy, and how it can behave in different situations, but has to say that it just is, when pressed for a solid definition of it.
If we accept that everything is energy, and energy just is, we can say that a thought is energy, but that is not very useful.
With force we have a slightly more useful definition. To a physics student, force is the ability to move something. The question becomes 'Can we consider a thought to be a force?'
Let's see. Let's look at a couple of characteristics of thought.
Firstly, a thought can only exist in our mind if we put it there, and allow it to stay there. The only place that a thought can exist is in someone's mind. If a thought is in someone's mind, it is there because that someone, either consciously or subconsciously, put it there, and allowed it to stay there.
Secondly we can only think one thought at a time. If we are thinking about the bus that we will go home in tonight, we have a picture in our mind of a bus. If we now think about what we must buy in the supermarket before we get home, the picture of the bus disappears and another picture replaces it.
It is common to hear people say things like, 'He made me so angry', or 'It made me so happy', or 'That made me sick'. The reality is that none of these things actually happened. The person made themselves angry, happy or sick, no one else did it for them.
How did they do that? In these cases the examples I have chosen are all feelings or emotions. We know that thoughts come before feelings. We think of something, either consciously or subconsciously, and then sometimes we experience a feeling as a result of that thought. We never experience a feeling without having a thought first.
So the person in our example, made themselves angry, happy or sick, by simply thinking that they would be angry, happy or sick. The thinking was probably completely subconscious, and was also probably completely habitual. The last time the person was in a similar situation, they thought that they would get angry also. In fact they have probably thought that they would get angry in similar situations ever since they were a child. With that much practice at getting angry it has become a habit to get angry in situations like that.
Is it useful, positive or empowering to always get angry in a situation like that? Probably not, but the thought force has the strength to move us from the state we were in, to an angry state, almost instantly.
If in a particular situation we can produce thoughts that make us angry, and in another situation we can produce thoughts that make us happy, it is not too hard to consider that we could also produce those thoughts in different situations. In fact we can choose to produce thoughts that make us feel any way at all, at any time we choose. Also as we can only think one thought at a time, the new thought we produce, replaces the old thought.
So next time you feel an emotion, try to identify the thought that led to the emotion. Try thinking a different thought and note how the emotion you feel changes. Interrupt yourself several times a day and ask yourself 'What am I feeling, and what am I thinking?'
Soon you will start to see patterns, and then when you feel an emotion, you will be able to consider if that is the emotion that suits you best in the situation that you are in. If it is that is fine, but you now have the choice of deciding that a different emotion would be more empowering, and changing your thoughts and using the thought force to change your feelings.