This Article has been authored by Mr. Aayush Kumar Gupta From Amity University, Lucknow. We appreciate the author for the work that he put into creating this article and helped us to inform people about How to control thoughts and Emotions and also help Manage their emotions.
There is a question that is highly debated in the world of psychology: whether the thoughts came first or the feelings? or Do Thoughts create Feelings?
The reason this debate exists to date is that the thoughts and feelings are very close to each other and with milliseconds of difference with the thoughts generating the feelings or the feelings are generating the thoughts
Science Behind How Thoughts create Feelings
But when we drill down scientifically with the help of equipment and the brain scans it will become clear that the thoughts are the one which will result in feelings. So, scientifically a conclusion is achieved that the thoughts create feelings.
Feelings and Thoughts always Catch each other
The thoughts and feelings will always match each other, it is similar to saying that if you have angry thoughts then that will generate angry feelings and if you will have worried thoughts that will propel worried feelings and when you have happy thoughts you will feel the happy feelings catching up. So, the feelings and thoughts are catching up to each other. They will always match and there will never be a mismatch of the thoughts and feelings.
How to Control thoughts and Emotions?
You can see people attend the anger management program, what they tell us the cause of our angry feelings and that is angry thoughts. What does anger management teach us? It teaches us how to control those angry thoughts.
Just observe what thoughts you are having throughout the day, when you consciously sense any anger thought, your work is to stop that thought then and there but how do you do that? It is by distracting with some other activity, you can start listening to some music or start doing math in your head or even read a book, you have to do something to stop that angry thought to take over and propel the angry feeling.
Also, people who cannot control their anger it is seen that their anger feeling is not propelled by one angry thought but it is the result of the stream of angry thoughts that generates the angry feeling to keep going throughout the day. So, you don’t have to just let your mind run in the stream of angry thoughts you have to consciously pick them.
Thoughts create Feelings – choose your thoughts:
You must choose your thoughts to the way you want to feel because the thoughts and the feelings always match. People will always go to the psychologist and say “because of my family or my friend and I am not feeling good or the way I want myself to feel”. You are the person who is creating your internal state and not someone else. You stay on the thoughts that created that feeling, you have to choose your thought to choose your feeling as thoughts create feelings, and this has to do with the conscious effort to choose the right thought again and again as these thoughts will have to stream again and again to impose those feelings.
It is the most common psychological misconception that the outside creates the feeling but it is the inside that creates the feelings.
How Thoughts create Feelings
People who are going through depression are the people who cannot stop their mind to stop the depressing thoughts, they are not choosing their thoughts because they are not aware that their depressed state is being created by depressing thoughts.
When met with a psychologist these people will go on speaking their thoughts about how bad their life is and how others don’t treat them well, and when you interrupt them with a funny joke they will laugh, and again they will get back to the depressing thought again. In this particular moment, you would have observed how a person can go from a horrible state to feeling funny and then again back to his horrible state again.
They are having the depressing thoughts and all coming one after another thereby creating the depressed feeling and then feeling good from the funny joke and then again the streams of depressing thoughts that follow after that funny thought. Anytime the patient is not thinking about the depressing thoughts he will feel okay.
The experiment of Thoughts create Feelings
There is one psychological experiment that you can do if you want to know what is causing you to feel the way you feel. You have to go inside a room with no one in it and sit without doing anything and observe how you feel. Maybe you feel depressed, or angry, or even happy but there’s no one around you but then how come other people make you feel bad, this experiment can conclude that feelings are created by the internal mechanism that is your thoughts and no one is creating the way you feel. Also, check the difference between thoughts and feelings.
Feelings are Simple
Feelings are very simple. You may have heard that feelings may arise from the deep-seated subconscious and latent subcontext or the government is brainwashing your mind etc. these are just not true!
The things that created how you feel is the whole story and drama that is creating those thoughts and the above part is just part of this drama. Feelings are simple, you have a positive thought you have a positive feeling and it is what it is.
The Story You Put on your feelings are complex and not the feelings themselves.
Sometimes people may reject you and you will not have the outcome you wanted and your feelings got hurt and your ego is bruised, and you’re out in just five seconds. Or you can put this in this way that you are having negative feelings about what happened because what you are currently telling yourself and now these feelings end in 3 seconds.
Remove the stories and the feelings become really simple.
Same situation but different thoughts
Let’s take an example of a situation where you are walking on the street and suddenly you notice someone who has studied with you or worked with you and he/she is walking on the other side of the street. You smile and wave your hand towards them, but they keep walking without acknowledging you.
Let’s examine the various thoughts creating various feelings.
Your Thought – What’s the matter? Have I done something anytime to upset her?
Your Feeling – Anxious and worried
Your Thought – Why didn’t he respond? Doesn’t he like me?
Your Feeling – Sad
Your Thought – What’s her problem? What’s wrong with her?
Your Feeling – Angry
Your Thought – I guess he didn’t notice me.
Your Feeling – Mild disappointment.
The point that I want to make is that the situation does not dictate how you feel but the way you feel depends on the thoughts that you have in response to the situation.
The ABC of CBT (cognitive behavior therapy)
- There is the situation or the Activating Event (A), In our example above it is seeing the person and waving hands.
- Then comes the thoughts or with our ABC model it is termed as Belief(B), these thoughts or belief the connection between the Activating Event (A) and Consequences(C), in our example let’s say your thought was “I guess he didn’t notice me.” and this thought will ultimately link to consequence.
- Now, at last, we end up with the feeling or the Consequences(C), the ultimate result of the whole process, in our example, you had the thought “I guess he didn’t notice me.” and the feeling you may get will not be too strong but you may be slightly disappointed by the fact that you did not notice.
This is the ABC Model or the Activating Event(A), the Belief(B), and the Consequence(C) Model.
Also, the thoughts that come in our mind as the reaction to the situation is also known as Automatic Thoughts. The thoughts in reaction to the situation are so quick that we are not able to realize that they even occur. Automatic thought determines the emotion we feel, and how strongly we feel it.
The cycle of Thought, Feeling and Action
The automatic thought that comes in response to the situation or event also depends on our mood and our feeling. So if you are already feeling anxious there is a higher chance that you may have anxious automatic thoughts, because the thoughts and the moods are propelling one another.
As there is such a close relationship between the thoughts and the feelings that it is suggested to consciously observe our thoughts to know how your mood is responding to the thoughts. It is very easy to get trapped in the cycle of thoughts and feelings.
When these cycles get started it is very difficult to slow them down or reverse them. But if you are able to notice these thoughts as they get started you can stop before the cycle begins or slow down before the cycle gains a lot of momentum.
Also we can expand our model of thoughts and feelings and take into account the actions and body sensation, as these all four things interact with each other and influence each other generating a cycle.
Let’s take an example of how panic attacks start.
Situation: You experience a sensation in your chest.
Thought: Am I having a heart attack?
Body Sensation: Heart starts to beat faster.
Action: Gasping for breath.
The experience of the sensation may create the thought that if it is a heart attack and this creates a feeling of anxiety and worry to reaction of anxiety the heart starts to beat faster and this causes you to inhale more air and also the second cycle begins where the first cycle creates another automatic thought.
Thought: Am I really having a heart attack?
Body Sensation: Heart beats faster.
Action: Start Hyperventilating.
The Cycle 2 initiates cycle 3 with different automatic thought.
Thought: What if I die?
Feeling: More Panic.
Body Sensation: Heart beats faster.
Action: Hyperventilating increases.
And this trap causes you to have a panic attack.