Be honest. Have you ever said anything like, “You make me so mad,” or “It makes me scared when you do that,” or “I’m so sad because you…”? It is written right into our daily vernacular and is so embedded into our culture that we usually don’t even see it. We blame others or our circumstances for the emotions that we feel. But the truth is, no one and no circumstance out there ever does cause us to feel anything.
I get it. Someone says something cruel, or betrays us in some way, and we immediately interpret that situation negatively as a rebound to the pain we feel. So rapid are our thoughts in reacting to what is going on in order for us to have a quick understanding and a determined response, that we completely miss the part where we had a whole string of thoughts rush through our minds telling us how wrong the person was who hurt us; that they did those things on purpose; that they hate us and just want us to be miserable; and that they probably have waited for years to do and say those things. So rapid, in fact, that we fail to realize that the anger and resentment we feel actually does not come from the behaviors of the other person, but rather directly from our thoughts ABOUT what that person just did.
In order, it goes situation, THOUGHTS, and then emotions. Our thoughts cause our emotions, not our circumstances and certainly not other people. To blame others for what we feel is tatamount to handing them total control over our emotional experience. If I assume that you had enough control to make me upset and miserable, then by default I will believe that I must also wait for you to do something in order to remove my pain and make me feel joy, happiness, or peace. And I don’t know about you, but I’m not good with that.
Imagine that you have a conveyor belt of constant thought in your mind. Something must always be on that conveyor belt of thought. That is the only requirement. It doesn’t matter what the thought is, there just has to be something flowing through your mind. Well, there is an inherent problem with that. If you don’t tell your brain what you want to think, then it will just chuck something on that conveyor belt. Psychologists tell us that we are only purposeful in our thinking for about 45% of the day. The other 55% of the time we are not paying attention to our thoughts, much less in charge or regulating them intentionally.
Given the fact that it is our thinking that creates our emotional experience, that tells you something about what is creating moodiness, crankiness, irritability, depression, anxiety, etc. We are not managing our thoughts and, left unmanaged, our brains will remain efficient at putting out thought, but it will grab whatever is easiest and most convenient. Scary part? That is usually just habitual thinking, and that all too often is negative or self-deprecating. Whatever your “poison” might be in thinking, that is what your brain will grab to throw on the conveyor belt of thought.
So, I have this really good idea. Control your thoughts!! Make decisions MUCH more often about the kinds of thoughts you want to be thinking. Be more intentional about what you hope and desire to feel emotionally in your life and choose on purpose to think realistic thoughts that will produce those emotions! It is entirely possible to take over your thought habits and turn them into something much more positive in your life, thus turning chronic negative emotion into a whole lot more happiness.
Quite blaming everyone and everything else for what you feel. Choose your thoughts, choose your emotions. Choose a happy life.