This concept is something I struggled to get my head around and has been so mind-blowing, so please bear with me - as it may hurt your head a little too.
External situations never cause how we feel – our thoughts about it do. And no situation is either good or bad without us having the thought that it is.
For example, if someone breaks up with you - although it might seem like it - that circumstance alone is neither good nor bad, it’s completely neutral. Your thoughts of ‘I don’t want the relationship to end’ and ‘I’m going to die alone’ – are what cause a negative emotion. Someone who thought ‘thank god, I wanted to end it anyway’ would have a completely different emotional response.
You may be thinking, “But what about murder? Or abuse? Surely those are objectively bad situations.”
And the answer is, yes – in our culture, thankfully, we believe murder and abuse are bad – but that’s still a THOUGHT we have about them. Some people, like murderers, probably don’t agree. They probably think it’s a great day when they’ve killed someone. It’s still just thoughts.
What this means:
We get to choose in any situation how we want to think and feel about it
We can take full responsibility for our own minds and the behaviours they create
We can change our negative emotions when they don’t serve us
No circumstance has the power to make you feel any kind of way. You can choose to think differently, you can choose to not attach meaning to experiences, and you choose not to believe the sentences that run through your brain. You get to decide how you think and feel.
What this doesn’t mean:
We should choose to be happy in all situations (Who really wants to feel happy about murder or abuse? Not me!)
We should change our thoughts to avoid all negative emotions
The universe can be all rainbows and sunshine
Although we have control of our minds, the universe is designed to include a balance of both good and bad, and being human unfortunately means experiencing a range of emotions.
In some situations it may serve you to change certain thoughts and feelings, for example - if you've not got the job you wanted, it would serve you to change your thoughts from 'I'm a failure and a f*ck up' to 'this wasn't supposed to be and now I'm one step closer to a role that is right for me'.
Or if your business venture doesn't work out the first time you try, you could choose to think 'I'm still learning and will work it out eventually' rather than 'I'm never going to succeed and this is pointless'.
Those thoughts create different feelings which will create completely different results in your life.
In other situations, what would serve you the most isn't trying to change your thoughts or rush to feel differently. For example, if you experience a loss of a loved one, you probably wouldn't want to change your emotion. You wouldn't want to feel happy about what you were experiencing. Feeling sad is an appropriate emotion, and is unfortunately part of the human experience.
This is where pop psychology and the 'positive thinking' movement can be misleading sometimes, as our aim should never be to feel happy in all circumstances. If we did that, we'd be robots or like those creepy Stepford Wives.
We need to accept that the universe is designed to be a balance of both good and bad, and be willing to experience all emotions. And when a negative emotion arises, have compassion for yourself, acknowledge you're having a human experience and allow it – without trying to numb yourself with things like sex, food, alcohol, or Netflix.
When we allow ourselves to fully feel a negative emotion, it actually passes through our bodies faster than when we try and resist it.
The aim of managing your mind isn’t to feel happy all the time, it's about looking at your thoughts and acknowledging that they cause your feelings, and then deciding if they're thoughts you want to change.
What results are your thoughts creating in your life?
Are they results you like?
What feelings do you currently blame on your circumstances instead of taking full responsibility for?
Remember - no circumstance can make you feel anything. Your thoughts are what cause your feelings. Change your thoughts, and you can change your entire reality.
Comment and let me know what thoughts you want to change this month! x