The Focus of Our Lives: Thoughts and Emotions

February 20, 2016

It is impossible to know our exact number of thoughts, but it is said that we have up to 70,000 each day, and the magazine New Scientist gives an average of 10 to the 80,000,000,000,000th power throughout our lives, an amount exceeding the number of atoms that there are in the universe if we calculate this based on the number of neurons and all the connections between them.

Among such a number of thoughts, we learn to select those that are the most consistent with the reality that we form for ourselves throughout our lives. We pay attention to those that generate a concrete emotion in us and lead us to act in a certain way.

Your worst enemy cannot harm you as much as your own unguarded thoughts.


Our thoughts generate emotions

If we think that we will get a good result, we will feel positive emotions that motivate us to undertake a plan of action that is on the right track to achieving it.

If we imagine a catastrophic ending, it is possible that we may feel sad and incapable, and this will take away our motivation to carry things out or we will start choosing less suitable alternatives to deal with them.

Our mind has the ability to imagine, to dream, to create, to invent, to communicate, to discover, and to change realities. However, it is this same capacity which also plays cruel tricks on us.

Butterflies before Green Eyes

We are interpreters of emotions. It is an incredible skill that human beings have. We have to listen to them, welcome them, and manage them to learn about ourselves and thus be able to empathize with others. But it is necessary that we keep in mind that we cannot always rely on emotional reasoning to come up with trustworthy judgments.

Previous experiences have an influence. We have established associations of how an event made us feel in the past. If the experience made us feel bad, we often project it onto the future, believing that in all similar scenarios we will have the same negative feelings.

We learn and make mistakes along the way. We have to keep in mind that life is made up of other variables that influence what happens. If we forget this, we will feel always guilty or blame others.

To build an attitude that is open to learning, it is fundamental to learn from our mistakes or communicate our displeasure to others, but we cannot blame ourselves excessively for them.

Sometimes, thinking is just your mind’s game. To understand this, let us learn to distinguish two concepts through a story:

Martha is going to meet up with a friend that she had a relationship with many years ago. There may be many doubts and she can imagine many possible scenarios that could play out during the reencounter. After this time, Martha has no hard feelings or anger toward him. She has fallen in love again and everything was left in the past.

Clearly it is logical to feel emotions and their activation when she imagines what it will be like to talk to him again. But it is precisely that imagination that can sometimes make us recreate a story that provokes an emotion predisposing us to go on our date with positive or negative energy and which additionally makes us feel good or bad about ourselves.

Egosyntonic: behaviors, values, and feelings that are in harmony with who we are; they are acceptable for our ego and they are coherent with our ideals and self-image.

“I would like to do what I have thought about and it is in harmony with me”

I imagined that we would meet up at that place after all these years without seeing one another and that we would be so happy that we would end up talking for hours.

Egodystonic: behaviors, values, and feelings that come into conflict and that are not in line with the needs and objects of my ego, nor with my self-image.

I imagined myself hurting you, telling you things that would hurt you, and that I was not able to stop saying them. I am a bad person.

“I would NOT like to do what I have thought about and it is NOT in harmony with me”

Brain with Wings

To conclude, it is important to remember the following…

  1. Know that our mind is able to imagine, create, and dream up the best, but also the worst thing.
  2. Keep in mind that emotions are necessary, but they are not always good for confirming what we think.
  3. Distinguish between egosyntonic and egodystonic, we know our thoughts are not reality, nor are we bad because we have had negative thoughts; rather, it means that we can later filter our self-image, morals, reflections, and values.