Have you ever felt overwhelmed with a bad feeling? What is the first thing you do when it happens? Most people try to label their feelings and find a right word that fits. “I am anxious”. “I worry”. “I am nervous.” “I am depressed.” It as if the feelings had a life of their own and just kept happening to you. In fact, feelings are created by your thoughts.
You can imagine thoughts as bags, filled with images, sounds, sensations. Whether you talk to yourself, or think about the future, or remember the past, or worry what other people think about you, they are like bombs that explode into your brain, firing all the neural networks associated with them. Creating sensations. Triggering feelings. Triggering other thoughts. Sometimes, triggering actions. Some thoughts are bags filled with delicious memories and pleasant sensations. Think for a moment about love, kindness, hope, kiss, gratitude. Other thoughts are loaded with dangerous explosives.
Most adults know how to talk. Most adults can describe their feelings and name them. Even though some can do it better than others, we all know how to let others know that we are afraid or in love or hungry. However, most people are not that good at noticing their internal reality – their inner dialogue, images, sounds and specific sensations in their bodies. As a result, they talk about being sad, depressed, happy, excited etc. – with little or no awareness of the internal events which created these feelings.
One day i was in a familiar theater and suddenly noticed the elaborate system of lighting devices under the ceiling and on the walls. If before I was paying attention to the light that lit the stage, now I became aware of the source. Your feelings are the light that you can see (feel) easily. The source of the feelings is your thoughts.
Even people who are trained in NLP or hypnosis and know how to pay attention to inner thoughts, images, sensations and sounds, often forget that every image, every sensation, every sound, every action have a neurological process behind them. Every time you think or speak or read or listen to other people, there are neurons in your brain, firing electrical impulses, forming connections, forming patterns.
Some people are aware of their inner talk, while their non-verbal inner reality (images, sensations etc.) stays out of their awareness. You can imagine yourself listening to a radio announcer, commenting on a football game. You hear the words, but you do not see the players. Some people are not aware of their internal dialogue – they just feel the feelings, evoked by it.
Now I invite you to consider this. What if you stopped talking about “anxiety”, “depression”, “stress” etc. and became really fascinated with what your brain is actually doing – what pictures it creates, what sounds it recalls, how big are the pictures, how fast they are moving, what sensations your body develops.
The more you let go of your need to use labels and diagnoses, the more you take interest in processes, the more you ask yourself – what exactly my brain is doing when I feel sad, depressed or when I stutter – the more you stop seeing your problems as problems and the more you start realizing you have power to change.