Thoughts & Feelings
Your feelings come from your thinking. We all have a system of beliefs, they are in grained and there are triggers in these belief systems that generate anxiety. When we aren’t aware of our belief systems and accept them as fact, they go unchallenged. These beliefs can lead to counterproductive and self destructive behaviour.
To start on the path to healthier thinking, it is necessary to identify the underlying system of beliefs that we have. You don’t question the fact that the wooden chair you sit on is real and will still exist even if you leave the room, and in the same way, many of us have beliefs that are responsible for deep-rooted, unconsidered assumptions and we accept them as fact, just as we see the wooden chair.
Often, these beliefs start with a “must” or “should”. It is harmful to place unnecessary pressure on ourselves, especially when it doesn’t need to be there. Statements such as “I must be strict to maintain control” or “I should go to that party or I will never be invited again” create tensions and anxiety.
Virtually all emotions come from evaluative thinking. If you just observe rather than evaluate you will not feel emotion.
Let’s consider the following statement: ” Jason admires me”. That’s an assertion of fact only, no emotion involved. If you add an evaluation: “I like Jason admiring me”, or “I dislike Jason admiring me”, it produces emotion.
Whether you want Jason to like you or not, there will be a preference involved either way and these produce appropriate or reasonable emotions.
On the other hand, inappropriate/unreasonable emotions come from demands rather than preferences.
for example: “Jason MUST admire me and it would be awful if he doesn’t”. “musts and shoulds” lead to dysfunctional emotions – emotions that get in the way, eat away at you and lead to anger, self pity, anxiety, depression and guilt.
So, it is perfectly rational to have preferences but it’s irrational and harmful to turn these preferences into demands.
There are three kinds of “musts” or irrational demands:
1) demands on oneself
2) demands on other people
3) demands on the situation
To help reduce the “musts: in your life, write a list of all the “musts” you may have and then write a reason as to why these demands are unreasonable and groundless. It is important to challenge your “musts” actively.
A. (Activating event): Jason doesn’t admire me
B (irrational Belief): Jason MUST admire me
C (emotional Consequence) – Anger
The “musts” make us angry, not the lack of admiration. If instead of a “must” you had a preference, you would feel sensibly sorry and displeased, not angry. So how do you eliminate the “musts”?
Proceed to D: Disputing the evidence – what is the evidence for my “must”? Why MUST Jason admire me? No reason exists for this must, however desirable it might be if Jason did admire me.
E: Effective new thinking. I would prefer it if Jason admired me but I can survive if he doesn’t.
It’s true that you find it unpleasant that Jason doesn’t admire you, that you would like it better if he did admire you, and perhaps even that it is wrong of him not to admire you. But the universe is not so constructed that people will always do what’s right or what other people would prefer them to do. Therefore it;s unrealistic to expect that this occur and unreasonable to demand that this MUST occur.
Furthermore, when we demand something to occur, we tend to expect that something bad will happen if it doesn’t occur.
Keep repeating and practicing the steps above and you will soon be feeling less anxious and angry with the world and others. You will also become a better ‘mind manager’ which invariably leads to greater contentment and peace of mind.