Learnings on emotions and thoughts

Last month I wrote about emotions and that we can choose our feelings. Research shows that our thoughts can control our emotions, feelings and behaviours, not external stimuli like people, situation or events.

So I decided to try it out and see how and if it truly works. I challenged myself and chose three emotions I wanted to have during this past month (joy, gratitude and love).

I found the prep work more difficult than expected. I thought I had a good understanding of how thought-behaviour-emotion relationship worked for me but I had to observe myself for over a week to just grasp the surface.

Once I managed to complete the prep work, at the end of each day (when I did not forget) I reflected on my emotions. Did I feel my desired emotions? What caused them? Why did I react in that way?

As a researcher myself, I found it worked best for me to do a short online google questionnaire. I set automatic reminders to complete the questionnaire after dinner. Once I did that, I was more consistent and reflected more regularly on my emotions.

It does also help to have reminders around to keep you on track. I have post-it notes around the house and a phone reminder goes off around lunch time with the list of emotions.

What have I learned from this challenge?

It works and it is powerful.

The beauty of it is that results are deep and fast (if you are diligent). There is also some kind of physical change. I am unsure of what it is but I noticed this because people would tell me that I looked different (over videoconference).

I feel more mature, I feel more in tune with my inner self. The days I didn’t feel my chosen emotions I made plans to feel them the following day. And I found patterns that hinder these emotions, so I can now be better prepared when I see these situations coming, making me feel more confident in my day to day.

Towards the end of the challenge, I realised that it was not enough to focus on myself. I shifted my self centred focus and expanded it outwards, seeking to express those feelings with those around me, hoping them to also feel the same emotions I do. So I am now also reflecting on my impact on those I interact with (something I am keen to explore further).

I have made this challenge more interesting and added extra emotions to my list. Emotions that I want to define me as a person, and emotions that I do not want to define me.

Now, every night I am completing my questionnaire and reflecting on what I can do tomorrow, and what is under my control to make these emotions happen every day of my life.

This challenge has not given me more control over my emotions and feelings, but over my life as a whole.

Have you tried it? Share your experience!

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