I think, therefore I am.
This is the basis for understanding emotional reasoning.
We are guided by beliefs, attitudes, values, opinions, and perceptions. Recognize what all of these words embody– OUR individual spin on something. When we look at a person, we are not just seeing eyes, a nose, or the attire he is dressed in. We are automatically attaching meaning, for example, “Gosh he talks with a nasally tone. Reminds me of that high school teacher I couldn’t stand.”
When we were born, and we were without experiences and memories, we viewed everything with fresh eyes. We were unbiased and virtually a “blank slate.” Through the navigation of events and relationships, we learned ways of being and thinking that without taking the time to recognize now, can result in significantly limiting behavior.
A participant attending a recent lecture of mine asked, “How come we do the things we do even when we know we shouldn’t be doing them?” It’s like self-sabotage. We are confined to our small points of view though, and most of us don’t take the time to stop at the “Scenic Overlook”. Your frame of reference is often just your little box of familiar thoughts and feelings. “I couldn’t do that! Are you kidding?” “I couldn’t speak in front of a crowd of 100 people. I’d shut down and not know what to say.” “There’s no way I could get on stage in a bikini.” “I can’t go back to school. Look how old I am!” We often do not see the full context of possibility 1) because we don’t stop to examine that there is one; and 2) because our automatic thoughts lock us into certain beliefs.
Emotional reasoning takes us from “I’m so nervous for this test” to “I am so nervous for this test that this must mean I didn’t study enough” and then “I didn’t study enough; I’m going to fail.”
Nervous does not equate to failure. Nervous is just…..nervous. It doesn’t need to go any further than that. Nervous could mean a lack of confidence, but oftentimes a person will confuse the feeling for fact. Sometimes we can get so far ahead of ourselves that we’re focusing on areas that are completely out of our control. When we back up to where we are right now, in this moment, however, we give ourselves the opportunity to ask what it is we need right here. “I’m nervous….maybe I need to breathe.”
Control means that we trust in our ability to have some measure of influence over our circumstances. Can we influence everything? Of course not. Emotional reasoning gets us as far as possible away from what we can impact.
I’d like to propose a change to the first sentence of this blog. How about we alter it to read: I think, therefore I’m human.
If you’ve ever paid attention to your thoughts, you recognize that they never stop. There is a constant flow of thoughtful energy. Unfortunately, many of us attach ourselves to our thoughts, believing them to be true. Then we are carried away by them. We need to learn to just watch them. Imagine your brain like a marquee sign. Be an observer of what runs across that marquee.
The more you practice the more you’ll surprise yourself by what you automatically think in certain situations.