Are you feeling overwhelmed by stressful situations? Do you feel there too much going on in your head? This article will help you tell the difference between your thoughts, feelings and emotions, and set you on the path to personal peace.
Thoughts are located in the brain and our what make up our ‘internal dialogue’. We are conscious of our thoughts and despite what many people believe we do have control over them. However, many people get into patterns of thinking, which become subconscious over time, it’s only when they become aware of these patterns that they realize how much they are affecting them.
Emotions are much more physical in nature. They are believed to be situated in the limbic system of the brain – something that all mammals share. We can think of emotions as very primitive evolutionary mechanisms that we share with animals. Experiences such as anger, sadness or fear originate from the body as a primordial response to a physical situation.
We can consider feelings as how we actually experience emotions. We might ‘feel’ fear as a tightening in the stomach, or anger as a hot sensation in the head. Heartache has it’s name because of the literal ache around our heart we experience when we are deep in grief or loss.
One of the problems in managing stress is that sometimes our emotions can actually be caused by thoughts rather than physical situations. Psychologists call these ‘secondary emotions’. When we think of a scary situation we become scared. What stated off as a thought quickly becomes a physical reaction in the body.
One of the major tricks in learning to deal with stressful situations is to learn to separate thoughts, feelings and emotions. The next time you are stressed or feel out of control, go into what you feel. Close your eyes and ask yourself, where am I experiencing this?
If your experience is mainly a sensation in the body, you are probably dealing with an emotion. Explore it, go into the feeling and experience how it feels in your body. You may often find that just by bringing awareness to the feeling it will dissipate.
If your experience is mainly in the head – then you are dealing with a thought. In this case you need to break the pattern of thinking that is causing you distress. There are many tools to do this, but often just becoming aware of what is going on in the present moment will do the trick.
But careful, you may be dealing with a secondary emotion – an emotion caused by a thought, not a real situation. Although you may feel this in the body, you will need to focus on stopping the thought in your head rather than the exploring the physical sensations of the experience.
You can tell the difference between primary and secondary emotions by watching what happens when you stop the thought. If the physical feelings resolve then you are most likely dealing with a secondary emotion. If they remain then the emotion is probably primary in nature.
EFT is one of the best tools around for dealing with thoughts, feelings and emotions.