1) How Do You Feel When You Think About The “Bad” Thing?

An exercise:

Let’s take a look at the first of six ways to discover that your unwanted emotion is created by a thought, and not by a circumstance or event. To start the exercise, I would like you to just take note of how you are feeling right now. Please take a second and look for yourself.

Now please take a moment to pick an unwanted emotion. More specifically, I would like you to pick an emotion you want to stop experiencing which you think is created by something “bad” that happened in the past or may happen in the future.

For example, you might want to stop feeling anger towards someone for what they did to you in the past, you might want to stop feeling sad about something “bad” that happened, or you might want to stop feeling anxiety about something that you don’t want to happen in the future. Really, take a moment to pick this unwanted emotion for yourself. This exercise is only going to help you discover something new if you actually engage with it.

Start thinking about the “bad” event

I would now like you to start thinking about whatever happened that was “bad” or whatever might happen that would be “bad”. For example, if someone did something “bad” to you, then think about how “bad” what they did was, the “bad” effect that it had, and how they shouldn’t have done what they did.  Tell yourself the story in detail and give it your complete attention. Picture the situation in your mind. Envision the scenario with all the relevant details. Look at everyone’s facial expression, look at the background details, and give it all your attention. Take a few seconds to stop reading, close your eyes, and imagine this now.

How does thinking about the “bad” event make you feel?

How do you feel when you think about this “bad” event? Does thinking about this story create an emotion? A moment ago you likely weren’t feeling any emotion. Then, just by thinking, you began to experience an emotional reaction.

If the event created your emotion, you wouldn’t be able to re-create the emotion just by thinking

It may seem as if a “bad” circumstance or event is responsible for creating your unwanted emotion, but there is no “bad” circumstance or event happening in this moment to create your emotion. You are just reading, but yet you experienced an emotional reaction nonetheless.

If a specific event created a specific emotional experience, it would only be able to create that emotional experience while the event was actually happening. A specific event or circumstance might have happened in the past, but it is not happening now. Therefore, the event can’t be creating your emotional reaction right now. If you experience an emotional reaction right now, it must have been created by something that’s going on right now. Since you were giving attention to thoughts, your emotion must be a direct reaction to the thoughts you just had, not any circumstance or event. You might not have been able to have thoughts about the event if the event had never happened, but it is still your thoughts that are creating the emotion and not the event.

Could you create wet hair just by thinking about your last shower?

In comparison, if you took a shower last week that made your hair wet, could you make your hair wet again right now just by thinking about the shower you took? No. This is because the water created your wet hair, not your thoughts. If you could create wet hair right now just by thinking, then you would know that thoughts alone create wet hair. In the same way, since thoughts can create an emotion right now just from thinking about a past event, we know that thoughts alone are creating our emotion.

Could you create wet hair by thinking about your next shower?

If your thought is about the future, since no “bad” event has actually happened, the emotion can’t be created by an event. The emotion can only be created by a thought. If you think about taking a shower next week, could this make your hair wet right now? No. This is because water creates wet hair, not thoughts. If thinking about taking a shower next week made your hair wet right now, you would know without any doubt that thoughts caused your hair to be wet, and not water. In the same way, since thinking about a future event can create anxiety, worry, or anger right now, we know that thoughts alone are creating these emotions.

If the only thing happening now is thinking, then it must be thoughts that are creating your emotion

Even if you didn’t get to feel the emotions from these exercises, you can probably admit that we often seem to experience emotions as a result of circumstances that happened in the past or may happen in the future. We may grieve for years after the death of a loved one. We may be angry at our parents twenty years after we have left home for things they did in our childhood. Similarly, we could experience fear and anxiety over the prospect of having a meeting or a job interview go badly well before the meeting or interview even happens. If we are experiencing the emotion now when no event is happening now, or no event ever happened, then an event can’t be creating the emotion.

Try the exercise on your own

If you ever want to try this exercise out on your own, all you need to do is ask yourself the following questions.

The Questions: What emotions or physical sensations do I experience when I think about this “bad” circumstance or event? If an event itself created my emotion, then wouldn’t the event only be able to create the emotion while it was actually happening? If no “bad” circumstance is actually happening right now but yet I can create an emotion right now just by thinking, then can I admit that thoughts have created my emotion rather than circumstances?

If you would like to disbelieve the thought that is creating your unwanted emotion, you can click the following link to try The 5 Steps to The Present Moment … or you can contact me for help.

Thank you for reading my first discovery post! Please let me know what you discovered in the comments area! I would love to hear from you!

Noah

5 Comments

  • […] If you would like to discover what’s causing your unwanted emotions, check out the 1st of 6 ways by clicking here […]

  • KarenTaylor says:

    I’ve heard this before, but somehow your wet hair example made me understand this on a much deeper level than I had previously. Maybe I just understood it intellectually before, or theoretically. But now I think I really got it! Thank you!

  • Jeff says:

    I enjoy your insights. I have noticed that when there is no thought going on to tell you who you are, you are simply awareness. If there are no thoughts telling you a negative story it’s hard to feel bad. For me sometimes the thoughts become overwhelming and I am unable to NOT believe or ignore them. This can be days of quite desperation to quote PINK FLOYD>

  • NoahElkrief says:

    Hi Jeff, thanks for your comment. Yes, that’s exactly what happens. When thoughts are quiet, or we are able to just witness them, we are free. But when we identify with thoughts and they are very loud and busy, it can be very hard to take a step back and see how they are not true or not relevant.

    There are 2 ways to stop this from happening: 1) The more thoughts you disbelieve, the less busy your mind is, and the easier it becomes to watch & disbelieve your thoughts… rather than getting overwhelmed and caught by them. 2) The more time you spend “present” (whether that is through meditation or any other means), the less busy your mind will be or the less you will identify with thoughts.

    I hope this helps! If not, please feel free to send me an email at Noah@liveinthemoment.org

  • NoahElkrief says:

    You’re welcome KarenTaylor! Thanks for sharing!