Where do your emotions come from?
Some people are under the assumption that your emotions come from your thoughts. That would be wrong. It is a bit more involved than that. It’s not just what we think about, or put our attention on that determines our emotions. Contrary to some current self-help philosophy, your emotions don’t come just from your thoughts.
Ever listen to a comedian tell a tragic story in a funny way? Comedians can talk about their relationship breakups, economic collapse, and war, in a way that makes us laugh about it. They get us to think about tragedies and laugh with joyful emotions about them. There is obviously something more than thoughts or subject matter to creating emotions. Something in their point of view affects the emotions we create.
In other moments, we can think about a relationship break up, economic challenges, and that same war, and it is not funny at all. We quickly feel sadness, anger, injustice, and despair. If we believe that it is just our thoughts or what we put our attention on that create emotions, then we’ve accepted a simple answer and given up on the truth.
Let’s begin with the obvious that people often overlook. You create your emotions. I say this is overlooked because people often say or think things like, “He makes me angry,” “That is sad,” or “She makes me happy.” Listen to this type of talk, and it sounds like other people and circumstances are creating your emotions. There is no mention of you being responsible for any part of the process. Believing these kinds of thoughts or comments causes us to overlook our role in creating emotions.
If someone is angry and scolds us we might feel fear or guilt. Fear and guilt are our reactions to them and their expression of anger. If they were making us feel emotions, we’d feel their anger. We don’t. We feel the emotions we create as a reaction to them.
For the most part we generate our emotions, and then we feel them. There are emotions that we can feel that are not created by us, but this is a small percentage and best dealt with later. How we create the emotions we feel requires a bit more introspection to understand.
Point of View has affects our Emotions
Having a thought in the mind is not enough to create an emotion. We also have to consider the point of view used to observe the thought. A comedian has a perspective of humor about tragic events that can makes us laugh when we see it from their perspective. A politician will talk about the same situation of war or conflict with a point of view that invokes a feeling of patriotism or righteousness. A person in a victim point of view can view the same material and fill him or her self with sadness. The point of view that you perceive events or your thoughts from affects the emotions you create.
It’s not just what you are thinking about, it is the point of view you think about it from that has an impact. Depending on your point of view you will make different interpretations and believe different assumptions. Believing these interpretations and assumptions form beliefs, or activate existing beliefs. These related beliefs also have an impact on which emotions you create and how strong they are.
Where do emotions get their power?
Emotions can be a powerful form of energy, or power. That energy, or power, has to come from somewhere. The force that powers your emotions is faith. Faith is a type of personal power that turns a thought into a belief. A thought has no power, but a belief has the power of your faith. Everyone has faith and exercises their power of faith in some way or another. Some people put their faith in a religious or spiritual understanding of God. Atheists put their faith in the belief that there isn’t a God. Some people put a lot of faith in scientific evidence. The power to believe in something is a power that everyone has.
When you invest faith in a thought it becomes empowered and can generate emotions. The more faith you put into an idea or thought, the more emotions you create. If you have only a little faith in a thought or interpretation, then your emotions, or emotional reactions will be mild. When you retract your investment of faith from a belief it returns to being just a thought and you no longer have an emotional reaction to it.
As I said earlier, not all emotions we feel require that we have a certain point of view, or faith in an idea,,, just most of them. There are emotions that we can feel that come from our natural response to experience. A real physical threat can cause us to feel genuine fight or flight fear. Perceiving something beautiful like a symphony, nature, or a sunset, can cause us to respond with genuine love and gratitude. Natural emotional responses to experiences are some of the other sources of emotions we feel.
Where do Emotions Come From?
Thoughts aren’t enough to create emotions. We can have some thoughts pass through our mind and find them funny at times. Later, when we are looking at things from a different point of view, we feel differently about the same thing. The most embarrassing moment in high school is the worst nightmare of our lives that week. From the larger perspective of time, twenty years later, it becomes a source of joyful laughter. The history of the event is the same after 20 years. However, our perspective has changed over that time, and therefore so does our emotions.
The quality of the emotion in terms of pleasure, or pain, that you create depends greatly on your point of view. The intensity of the emotions you create in that moment will depend on how much faith you have invested in the beliefs and assumptions supporting that thought. Faith in certain beliefs is the source of power behind your emotions. Recover your faith from the beliefs you have around a thought, and you can change the emotions you feel.
Emotions stemming from our thoughts are a product of our point of view, underlying beliefs, and how much power we’ve put into them in the form of faith. If you are attempting to change your emotional state by changing only your thoughts, you are not going to have much success. Attempting to change emotions without changing your point of view, underlying assumptions, or investment of faith is likely to fail. That would be like building a chair with one leg and expecting it to support you.
If you intend to change your emotional state, emotional reactions, and develop more happiness in your life, you will have to develop skills in changing point of view and recovering your faith from your false beliefs. Exercises for learning both of these skills are included in the Self Mastery Courses.2