Do Random Thoughts Control You?
“Feelings are much like waves, we can’t stop them from coming, but we can choose which ones to surf.” I saw this message and the photo to the right and I am sure is meant to support us by saying that we might have at least a little control over those pesky feelings we all fall victim to. At face value it even seems true, but really it is far from the truth. While the message tugs at us in a bittersweet stand of unity, it is a false assumption painting a picture of us as victims of our humanity. Actually, we have absolute control over our feelings. Why? Because feelings are driven by our thoughts, so if we change our thoughts, we either won't feel something or feel differently about what was a happening in life. This is what is called a "reframe" because when an internal message is reframed, it also changes how our world is perceived! So as a recap: 1) we have a thought, 2) we feel the thoughts affects as feelings, and lastly 3) we take action with behaviors. For those interested, from a psychological perspective, changing the thought is considered a cognitive restructure or simply a "reframe!" From a law of attraction perspective, it is a positive affirmation, magnetically drawing in what you want to see happen. Affirmations must be present tensed to make a difference.
Consequently, feelings are important clues to both inner and outer life. Feelings keep us safe, provide us with great information, direction and they tell us that we are human. If I feel angry, I want to know why. Sometimes it is a clue that what is going on is something I need to deal with, by taking action. Didn’t get that promotion? My children left that bike on the drive again? My husband or wife or friend did ____________ (fill in the blanks). Maybe what is going on has occurred repeatedly or perhaps it is threatening my self-esteem; and maybe I want to look at that in more depth? Could it be that the person you are pointing at is a mirror reflection of some hidden aspect of oneself?
I remember one day working with a couple of managers, when I was a management coach. They were sent to me by their supervisor, because they seemed to argue a lot and simply didn’t get along well. I wanted to avoid the whole he said, she said thing, so on a hunch I gave them a Myers-Briggs to see more about their personal style. This had to be the easiest coaching session I ever performed. They completed the inventory, transfered the assessment to a score sheet and handed it to me. I worked it over, circled a few things and handed it back to them. Sitting at a table, side by side they looked at the scores and then at each other, the scores were identical to each other! The managers looked at each other and broke out laughing. They were mirror images of themselves, and it showed in their scores clearly. They operated basically the same and neither was able to see that until the saw the numbers, which they trusted. The rest was easy-peasy, so to speak. They left chattering away to each other like newfound friends, seemingly enjoying a new understanding of each other. I know they used the unique perspective to their advantage as they were successful. The morale of the story is to feel everything that is important to you as long as those feelings have purpose, to get right action from new information.
Rule of thumb, when feeling stressed, hurt, anger, sick, (yes, your words even opens the door to physical illness) or anxious, stop! Grab a piece of paper and write out what you are thinking. Look at the message objectively. What does it really say? Will it give you what you want? Will it cause you problems down the road? Will it hurt others? Now rewrite the message to yourself and others in a way that states what you want to see happen. The thought might be: Everyone takes advantage of me. The reframe would be: I set limits and boundaries. Again: There are no jobs out there. Reframe: I now create the perfect job for me. Notice I didn’t say there are tons of jobs out there, but there are those too. What I am focusing on is “my perfect job for me” exists and will come to me. Especially when I think about what I want to see happen.
Use your thoughts wisely; they will bring you either peace or turmoil. But what if I just select the feelings I want to ride out and stuff the rest as the message above suggests? This could work for you, but it may just lead to playing out dramas that keeps life stuck, in turmoil, and mostly without benefiting our life. Sometimes it just keeps us stuck. Rule of thumb, a little drama goes a long way and getting closure to an aspect of life that is not working is important to a well-lived, successful life. An important aspect is stuffing feelings causes as much damage to the body as the dramas that play out do to life. Even if what causes the feelings needs action, the objective is still neither to stuff nor get angry, sad or depressed, but to reframe how we see the issue. Once a new perspective has been seen, it may need no further action but to smile and allow us to flow with it. Regardless, reframing let us see the world in a new way, offering resources that were not there before and remind us always that we are powerful beyond belief!
Shirley Ryan, PhD, CCHt is a practicing counselor, coach, hypnotherapist and spiritual mentor. Email me from my the contact page above.