Thoughts create emotions. It’s a deterministic process. The way you think is the way you feel about things. But many times we fail to realise the inner workings of this. We pinpoint constantly to that inner critic of ours and we think this is all we need to stop to remove the negative feelings. So many articles ruminate in this aspect of the mental bantering that lures us into thinking it’s the only hurdle we need to resolve. But isn’t it true that if it was that easy everybody would have solved all of their problems yet? Could we just point out that maybe there are certain processes that are obscured and missed out holistically?
As I was marching through my work till recently, I found myself dealing with severe negativity, stress and anxiety even towards people and coworkers I was collaborating with. I would caught myself being overly defensive, creating imaginary scenarios of them trying to get me and win things from me or I would indulge into the endless loop of victims mindset. All scenarios of fear, one way or the other. All emotions of hidden vulnerability and reactivity towards an enemy with no face. There is literally nothing to punch there.
But isn’t it true that all these feelings are immensely ignored by us in a constant pace? Aren’t we avoiding to delve into them with any chance we get because they are so dreadful and heavy? Heavy as the weight of 100 kilos sitting on your shoulders, all the while resembling Atlas holding the earth?
And if it is mere thoughts how do they manage to stay in us for so long and affect us so profoundly? If our minds produce so many thoughts throughout the day, why would we get attached to some of them so firmly?
How Negativity Works
The problem with negative thought patterns is that they are designed to provoke a response from us. Through the mechanism of strong emotions, they manage to infiltrate our minds and take hold of us. But the way they grab on and glue in our brain is very different than many people would have expected. Emotions are an expression as well. They are temporary. They are not meant to be created and live forever as is. There is nothing more careless and clumsy than all the books and articles that guide us on how to find happiness. It is an oxymoron. Happiness is not there to stay with you forever. It was never meant to be. It’s only a message to you from your unconsciousness for a job well done. That’s all there is to it. It’s where the finger is pointing to that matters, not the finger itself.
So if both thoughts and emotions are so elusive what is the mechanism these thoughts are using to hold on to us like parasites. We most surely must be missing something here.
Narratives And Mental Images
Thoughts are simplified in our mind as narratives. And narratives are simplified even further as mental images. Little snapshots of pictures we carry along in our back of our head that set the emotional background in our lives. And it would be a mistake to think it’s only conscious thoughts that have this power to create visualisations in us. Any kind of impression conscious or unconscious is translated into a auto-narrated image that has a special meaning. You fear that your co-worker is going to try to undermine you with mean little nuance points. Afraid your boss is trying to minimise your work? Your friend trying to get the frame on you and get the upper hand? How many of these thoughts are really conscious to you? How many of them come from your inner critic? Most of the time they are not even perceived. They are just part of… you. Of your reality. Right?
Eckhart Tolle analysed very accurately in this video the following idea. “Nothing is either good or bad, but thinking makes it so”. A Shakespearean quote. There is a very distinctive difference from the reality you perceive and the one as it really is. Nothing that happens is good or bad on its own. Nothing has an essential core that is categorised as this or that. Things are as they are. We only give them a label after the fact depending on how beneficial or not they are to a corresponding entity. All judgements are a human invention meant to help the species survive. That’s why morals are there to protect society and that’s why you feel good or bad depending on how your life is going.
This is the same recognition that needs to take place not only on our judgements, but our mental images as well. We need to detect these patterns of perception inside us and scrap them out from the root. Because they are heavy. And they are dragging us down. There are three steps you need to follow to deal with them. In order to confront the situation you are gonna have to reverse engineer your way out of it..
How To Eliminate Stress
- The first thing you need to do is to observe how these feelings are created. How they bubble up to the surface. Observe your interaction with a person that triggers some kind of negative emotion in you. It doesn’t matter if it is fear, stress or anxiety as long there is some kind of reaction. No matter what though, do not try to evade the feelings.
- The second step is recognising the narrative behind the emotions. You need to raise your awareness and put some magnifying glasses in your inner workings. Find the story you subconsciously tell yourself about this person that hides behind the emotion. Is he a threat to your wellbeing, are you afraid he is untrustable and dishonest? You’ll need to start from your emotions and go all the way back to their origins of the initial triggers and thoughts. But be sure most of the time all these are well covered and hidden from sight. They have been compacted into a small ball of emotional imagery that accompany you in your interactions with that person.
- Once you acknowledge these images and narratives it’s only a logical conclusion to realise they are just a creation from you. They are just an add -on sitting on top of your reality because you chose them to be there. Removing them is liberating. It can make your shoulders much much lighter and open you up to your presence in ways you didn’t believe possible..