Our thoughts influence our emotions

Pay attention to how your mood is affected by the things you are thinking about

 The power of our thoughts is incredible and sometimes misunderstood. Do a little test yourself – sit quietly and begin thinking about a wonderful memory. Engulf yourself within the sights and sounds of that memory. After a few minutes, take note of how your mood feels. You might notice a lighter sense on your spirit and have a small improvement in our attitude. Now do the opposite, sit quietly and think about a memory that was unpleasant. Again, engulf yourself in the sights and sounds of the memory. You will probably notice that your muscles begin to tense a bit and your mood is not as cheery as it had been. You might also be aware of how much easier it was to enter into the negative emotions of the memory than it had been for the positive memory.
It is a sad fact that we as human beings are more “successful” at experiencing a negative memory than we are a positive one. We often will do our daily routine while re-enacting conversations that we had or wish we had with people who frustrated us. Seldom do we re-enact wonderful experiences within our memory. We might, but only for brief moments. We have the ability to spend a tremendous amount of time on the negative.
Thoughts precede our emotions. That is a fact. What I think about will dictate how I feel in any given situation. This is not to say that I can merely think away an emotionally negative response that is appropriate for a given situation. If a person just received bad news, it is appropriate and healthy to have sadness, grief, etc. We are human beings not robots. The challenge is to be aware of the negative dialogue that goes on inside of our heads everyday.
This week pay attention to your internal dialogue and see if you would categorize it predominately negative or positive. Feel free to report back any interesting findings that you notice. I can be reached at shannon@southlakecounseling.org.