Problems are only opportunities in work clothes.
-- Henry Kaiser

 

   

The MONTHLY Motivator - August 2002

Thoughts and Feelings

Every waking moment of every day, you are thinking. Some thoughts stick with you for years, for decades, even for your entire life. Other thoughts come for a few moments and then fade out of consciousness, never to reappear again. Then there are thoughts which come and go, and come back again at regular intervals.

Your thoughts are vitally important because they are the basis for your actions, and your actions are critical to making things happen. Thoughts alone cannot accomplish anything outside your own mind, yet those same thoughts absolutely direct and control the processes which do indeed get things accomplished.

Feelings are a bit different than regular thoughts, though closely related. Your feelings can affect your thoughts and your thoughts can affect your feelings. A feeling is, in many ways, a special kind of thought. Though feelings are not as logical or linear as we would normally think of thoughts as being, still they reside within your mind as thoughts also do. So when we look at thoughts in general, we must also consider that feelings are closely related and play an important role.

The really powerful thing about your thoughts and your feelings is that they are under your control. It doesn’t always seem that way. When the phone rings with news of a crisis, your thinking immediately switches to the urgent matters at hand. In such a case, it would seem that the crisis itself has taken control of your thoughts, and indeed it has. But just as true is the fact that you’ve chosen to let that crisis occupy your thoughts. The process is often so automatic you don’t even notice it.

Think, for a moment, though, of what would happen if the phone rang with news of a crisis, but it was a wrong number and the crisis was something that did not concern you at all. You’d listen politely for a moment, let the person know they had the wrong number, and then get back to what you were doing before. The other person’s crisis might occupy your thoughts for a minute or two, but it would not be in control of your thinking. Why would the “wrong number” crisis not take over your thinking? Because you would not choose for it to do so. It would have no effect on you and you would choose to devote you thinking to something else.

So, when there is an urgent situation of some kind that does seem to take over your thinking, it’s because you have chosen to let it dominate your thoughts. You have evaluated the situation, and determined that it is important enough to you to warrant the commitment of your thoughts to it. The situation, in and of itself, has not taken over your thinking. You’ve made the decision to give your thoughts to it.

Those special kinds of thoughts known as feelings work in a similar way. When you feel one way or another toward a particular person, place, event or situation, it is because you have crafted a personal connection with that object of your feelings. Feelings do not simply overcome you and overwhelm you on their own. They are ultimately under your control and direction. You decide who and what you have feelings for, and what kind of feelings they will be.

Success in any endeavor is largely a matter of exercising the control, control you already have access to, over your thoughts and feelings. Perhaps that sounds a bit sterile, overly logical, uncaring and insensitive at first glance. After all, many people might appear to be imprisoned by their thoughts and feelings, seemingly through no “fault” of their own.

But fault, or lack of fault, is not really the issue because fault deals with the past. What has happened in the past cannot be changed and therefore is of little consequence except as an experience from which to learn. What really matters to everyone, wherever they may be and however they may have gotten there, is the process of going forward. And no matter who or what may be at fault for a particular situation or circumstance, the way forward is always by exercising focused and directed control over one’s thoughts and feelings.


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—Ralph Marston