FEELINGS ARE NOT THOUGHTS
DIFFERENTIATING BETWEEN THE TWO WILL HELP TO
CREATE MORE EFFECTIVE COMMUNICATION
A CONFUSION OF TERMS
But we misuse and mix these up.
"I feel this is right" is not a true statement. The corrected statement would be "I think this is right" or "I believe this is right", if it not a certainty. And one could add "I have a good relaxed feeling in my stomach for some reason, so I am interpreting that as an indicator of something, but I know I must interpret, using my higher brain if I am to have a chance of determining what is true and logical..."
Now, how many people would say that last statement??
Very few, methinkest!
But it is accurate and you must realize the truth of it in order to avoid misunderstandings from the misinterpretations of what is happening.
USING A "FEELING" TO INDICATE THAT ONE IS "RIGHT"?
If a person has a "feeling" about something, they use that to justify that it is "right" - when that is preposterous! But somehow the "feeling" is believed to validate the belief.
A feeling is not something one can use to justify an attack on your partner. A feeling is simply a feeling – but it is, for sure, not the same as a thought!!!!
Basic psychology encourages one to differentiate between the two as it makes thinking (and communication) more effective to do so.
The reason one might want to understand this is that it will
1. Eliminate a lot of self harm or suffering plus
2. Eliminate the source of most relationship problems.
Glance at the definitions for now and then refer to them later as you are reading the body of the piece.
DEFINITIONS TO USE FOR REFERENCE
A sensation. An emotion or an emotional effect (e.g. it feels good to be complimented).
Under synonyms: Feeling, when unqualified in the context, refers to any of the subjective reactions, pleasant or unpleasant, that one may have to a situation and usually connotes an absence of reasoning.
It is also used in the context of an opinion or sentiment, but, technically, that is a thought the represent the outcome of an evaluation.
A result of thinking (a process of): an idea, a concept, an opinion, etc. Involves some form of accessing “data” (false or true) and processing it in some way to create a “conclusion”.
One cannot accurately say one "feels" another person is being “mean.”
Instead, it is appropriate to say that one forms a belief (or thinks) via the thought process, and that that results in coming to the conclusion that the other person is mean.
This thought (not feeling) process involves the use of “data” from memory and from “perception” (an inexact process) and some the use of some form of reasoning to come to the conclusion.
However, much of the data can be inaccurate - as well as the perception! Plus, they can be manipulated to justify a current belief or strategy used frequently or to defend oneself against some falsely created threat!
In addition, the reasoning can be poor or not complete.
The result of these weaknesses in the links in the thought chain can lead to a poor or inaccurate conclusion that is not “the truth.” Although many people are lackadaisical about the use of their language and the preciseness or truth of their thinking and just indulge in it, it is not justifiable in terms of the effects it has.
The emotionally mature individual recognizes the high chance of inaccuracy and exposes such conclusions to further scrutinizing and does this before reacting to it.
Also, the actions the emotionally mature individual will take will be better reasoned and much more likely to be positive and constructive.
However, many people, acting largely from the viewpoint of a “victim” mentality, believe that saying one feels that a certain thing is true (or that other people will agree with it) somehow legitimizes the accusation, projection, or assumption.
But it does not, in any way, shape, or form justify the thought or make it true. It is, here in this example, solely being used as a weapon against the one that appears to be the victimizer.
As humans we “feel” a feeling and then we note (as the body is designed to do) whether it is unpleasant or pleasant, then seek to get relief if it is unpleasant. Many times the “relief” is in the form of a very primitive (not wrong or “bad”) striking out at anything related to what is thought to be the cause (but the thought is relatively unsophisticated and often not reasonable or soundly based!).
Striking out at something or someone is a way of avoiding the unpleasantness often associated with knowing that one is “at cause” over what has happened or is responsible in some way. The primitive or child thinking converts this to the idea of being at fault, at blame, and being “bad”. A child, or an adult in the role of a child, desperately seeks to avoid responsibility, as it could seem calamitous if it caused the adult to not love him/her and (incorrectly of course) to stop feeding the child.
As children, who are powerless, we “learn” that we better avoid anything that might make us look wrong or weak or “bad” since we would lose the love of the Big People, who we depend upon for survival. The threat of that, when the lizard brain sees anything that resembles an old memory, is overwhelming for those who haven’t learned to handle it as an adult – most of us, unknowingly still continue to misinterpret, exaggerate, and then overreact to such a threat.
The thought creates a signal that is interpreted by the lizard brain part of our brain to represent a threat, then the brain communicates to the rest of the body in something called an “emotion” – a signal that goes along the wiring circuits of the body. Each emotion is designed to cause some response – and at the primitive level most of those are responses required for survival (such as flight or fight). The point to be understood here is that, if we don’t process this through knowledge and adult reasoning, these not-real threats are, almost always, thought to be real and frequently the responses are not appropriate and are often harmful to others.
This is important to understand fully.
The benefits of understanding this are that you will avoid a huge amount of damage to yourself and also to others (which hurts relationships also).
Thoughts are not feelings. Feelings are not thoughts.
When one feels it is a “sensation”, one that is either unpleasant or pleasant (a signal from the body). When one feels, it is appropriate to say “I feel…” and then express what the feeling is. Feelings are only the following (which includes sub-categories of feelings): Mad, sad, glad, or scared. Anything outside that is a thought.
When one has a thought, one believes or concludes or “perceives” that something has occurred and it has some meaning. “I believe you were being mean” is a thought. “I think you meant to be mean to me” is also a thought (and one that should be checked out!) You cannot “feel” a thought, you can only “think” a thought. It is not accurate to say “I feel you are being mean.” There is no such thing.
Based on this, one would, once this is understood, only communicate in the following form:
COMMUNICATION USING FEELINGS AND THOUGHTS APPROPRIATELY
An emotionally mature, knowledgeable adult would say:
"When this (fact) occurred, I thought that it meant that… and I felt scared."
Then the adult will typically make a request of another if there is a way that a change would make a difference. (It is appropriate to recognize that one’s perception could be inaccurate and say something like “I could be wrong” before saying the “fact.”
A specific example (these greater details are only provided in an intimate relationship):
"When you said, though I could have misunderstood, that I was not keeping my promise, I thought that you were attacking me. I felt scared, scared about losing the relationship, being abandoned. I realize now that I should check this out with you about how you are feeling and if there is a barrier in our relationship. Can we do that now or as soon as it works for you?"
__ I agree that the inappropriate and often harmful, to me and/or others, primitive,
“unthoughtout” reactions are something that are unnecessary and undesirable.
__ It makes sense to put out the effort to overcome reacting as an animal or child.
To that end, I will
__ Read the pieces on the website that pertain to it.
__ Read the explanatory footnotes in this piece if I haven’t already.
__ Read a communication book, specifically on this topic.
__ Read a book on cognitive thinking or rational emotive thinking, so that I fully
understand the process.
Just from the understanding in this piece,
__ I promise that
__ I will stop myself when I am upset.
__ I will look at what is going on with me, instead of assuming it is “out there.”
__ If this has to be done quickly, I will remember that it is most likely a
projection, “assumption, or inaccurately based thought that is at the
foundation of it and I will not “put it on” the other person.
__ If I do an inappropriate reaction, I will, to the best of my ability, clean it up,
by acknowledging to the other person the inappropriateness, apologize if
appropriate (and make any necessary amends to repair the damage) and then
promising, sincerely, that I will not do that again.
__ I promise that I will master this sufficiently to avoid most of the inappropriate
reactivity and the harm it causes.
SIGNED: ___________________________________ DATE: ____/____/____