My emotions come from my own thoughts. I am always feeling my own thinking.
I feel fear when the world I create inside my head seems like a dangerous place.
All kinds of thoughts pass through our minds, and as a part of the human design, those thoughts get experienced as feelings.
Imagine that the mind is like a train station. There are trains leaving all the time to any destination you can think of. Some trains will take you up into the mountains of ecstasy; others will take you down into the depths of despair. Some leave the station quickly but then lose steam and drop you off in the middle of nowhere. Others are slow to start but over time take you exactly where you want to go, even if you didn’t know where that was when you first got on board.
Now, imagine there was a foolproof way to instantly know whether a particular train of thought was taking you somewhere good. You wouldn’t have to ride the train all the way to its destination to find out where it was headed; you could simply hop off at the next station and wait for another train to come along.
This is the role of fear in the human system:
Whenever you feel fear (or despair, or hopelessness, or anger, or any of the variations on that theme), it’s the design of the human system letting you know where that train of thought is heading.
It’s telling you to be still – to hop off that train as soon as you can, and wait for a new stream of thinking to come along.
It’s not telling you anything about the world or even about your capability – it’s simply telling you there’s nothing good waiting for you at the end of this particular train of thought.
It’s like pain – you feel a little bit of pain when you accidentally put your hand too close to a flame to prevent you from feeling a lot of pain if you continue on towards the fire. The discomfort of fear is there to warn you of the larger pain you’ll feel, if you continue on down that same thought path.
When I feel unwelcome emotions, and I remind myself that I am feeling my own thinking, it actually does reduce the intensity of that unpleasant emotion. I’ve learned that If I remember to do this when I feel afraid, my fearful thoughts do become less frightening, and they go away more quickly.
We live in a world of thought. Every thought we have will eventually pass and will then be replaced other thoughts. Thoughts come and go at random, and the more we focus on any particular train of thought, the longer it will stick around.
A great deal of human suffering is caused
by two misunderstandings:
1. that our thoughts are meaningful;
2. that we can do anything about them.
This article contains paraphrases
of a post by Michel Neill,
author of “Inside Out” (2013)
This article was originally posted in 2016, and was bumped up for new viewers.
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