Thoughts, feelings, behaviors. They are all connected and the relationship is transactional. This means that while one influences another, that change will in turn influence another factor. None of the three can exist without the other two.
This begs the question, where do we make the change in our lives if we have suffering? Do you change what thoughts you have, do you change your actions before or after the thoughts, or do you change how you feel about the situation? The answer is ANY of the three will elicit change; however, I will tell you that I believe that it is easier to BEHAVE your way into thinking differently than it is to THINK your way into behaving differently. Feelings will happen.
Think about it: You wake up to your alarm. You are very tired as you didn’t sleep well. You were up late crying, emotional about something that had happened. Is it easier to get yourself to think “gee, I am so glad to be awake early! The fact that I have a headache from crying is no problem! I look forward to seeing people today who may ask me how I’m doing!” OR is it easier to get out of bed, turn on the radio to some upbeat music, and pour a bowl of fruity pebbles? I imagine that if you try to change your thoughts, you may end up with anxiety, dread, sadness (and you may never get out of bed, at least not on time!)…whereas if you try to change your behavior, you may actually feel pride, competence and contentment.
We know it is one of the HARDEST things to do, to act differently than we may feel. Think back to the last time you were feeling depressed, I bet it would have been REALLY hard to get you to go exercise! The last time you were really anxious, I bet it would have been REALLY hard to convince you to go lay down and listen to a meditation. And the last time you were fuming mad, I bet it would have been difficult to get you to go for a walk…and yet this is what I suggest! Why would I suggest something so radically difficult? Mainly because if you do, you will see how quickly it remedies the intensity of the emotion and thoughts. I propose that if you do it a few times in a row, you will begin to trust the process…this is pretty much what all people with good habits say about how they stick to their routines!
So work on doing the opposite of your (ineffective) urge and see if the thoughts and feelings come along in a helpful way!
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