Photo courtesy of Susan Allen
“You’re always living in the feeling of your thinking”
Keith Blevens PhD, Clinical Psychologist
For the past few years, I’ve noticed a troubling trend. A person is feeling distressed, sad or bothered in some way, and a well-meaning friend or colleague tells them “You know it’s just your thinking, don’t you?” This comment doesn’t usually help, and sometimes makes matters worse (I’ve met plenty of people who try telling themselves “It’s just my thinking” as a way to try and escape from uncomfortable feelings, but to no avail.) In this article, I’m going to reveal why telling yourself (or others) “it’s just your thinking” doesn’t help, as well as offering you a much more valuable alternative.
We each live in a thought-generated perceptual experience; we’re living in the feeling of the principle of Thought taking form, moment to moment. The formless principle of Thought is what creates the tangible form of our perceptual reality in the moment. Our feelings are a reflection of the perceptual reality that’s being generated. The principle of Thought weaves together a perceptual reality, incorporating a portion of data from our senses and our memory banks. We then get a felt experience of the perceptual reality thought has generated. Our feelings are a reflection of the thought-generated reality we’re experiencing in a given moment.
– If you’re feeling angry, that feeling is letting you know that you’re in an angry thought-generated perceptual reality.
– If you’re feeling peaceful, that feeling is letting you know you’re in a peaceful thought-generated perceptual reality.
– If you’re feeling sad, that feeling is letting you know you’re in a sad thought-generated perceptual reality.
– If you’re feeling happy, that feeling is letting you know you’re in a happy thought-generated perceptual reality.
100% of your feelings are a reflection of the principle of thought taking form in the moment. But here’s the thing: the issue ISN’T that we sometimes have uncomfortable or agitated feelings, alerting us to an uncomfortable or agitated thought-generated perceptual reality. The issue is that we mistakenly believe that those feelings are alerting us to something other than the principle of thought taking form in the moment:
– I start feeling angry, and all of a sudden it seems like I’ve got lots of things to be angry about
– I start feeling happy, and I’m struck by all of the wonderful things in my life
– I start feeling judgemental, and I’m struck by how everyone and everything isn’t coming up to par
– I start feeling inspired, and I’m struck by all the possibilities and opportunities that exist
Your mood is like a pair of glasses that you look through: It colours everything you're looking at (including yourself), but the glasses don't mention themselves.
So what can you do about this? I’ve got some bad news and some great news.
First the bad news: In the moment, there’s nothing you can do about it. If you’re in an anxious thought-generated reality, there’s nothing you can “do” to change that (in fact, any tactics you come up with will be the products of an anxious thought-generated reality).
Now the great news: There’s nothing you need to do about it in the moment. As soon as you wake up to the fact that your feelings are telling you about a thought-generated perceptual reality, and not an actual reality, it frees you up for fresh new thinking. The leverage point for this is greater clarity of understanding. Let me give you a personal example, from when I’m feeling annoyed and irritated. Here are the three options I’m faced with:
A) My annoyed, irritated feelings are alerting me to annoying, irritating circumstances (including past events, future events, personal qualities, etc)
B) My annoyed, irritated feelings are alerting me to an annoyed, irritated thought-generated perceptual reality in this moment.
C) Some combination of the above
When we get ‘stuck’ in a particular state of mind, it’s because it seems like A is occurring. And when people tell themselves or others “You know it’s just your thinking”, it’s implies that C is occurring; that if only they could change how they’re thinking about this, everything would be fine. But the truth of the matter is option B. The fact of the matter is this: we’re always living in the feeling of the principle of thought taking form, moment to moment. That’s not an issue. The ISSUE is when we mistakenly believe we’re feeling something other than the principle of thought taking form in the moment. The moment we mistakenly believe that, we slip out of the present moment, and into a misunderstanding.
But you can wake up from that misunderstanding in any moment. The ultimate leverage point is clarity of understanding. Clarity of understanding is the infinitely better alternative to telling yourself or others, "It's just your thinking".
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