The Battle Between Our Thoughts and Emotions

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Thoughts and Emotions - The Battle Ensues

Can they ever get along?  Do you have difficulties putting words to how you feel?  Do you tend to say things you didn’t really mean because you couldn’t find the right words?  When trying to convey your emotions, does the language that escapes your mouth just come out as ‘word vomit’ which inevitably gets you into trouble?  Is communicating your emotions difficult for you?  Well, here’s the dilemma…

We think with words and images, and we feel with… feelings? Our emotions and feelings are formed from chemicals released in the brain, and our body and mind ‘feel’ the experience – we do not ‘think’ it. Thus, it is our ability to be in tune with our emotions that allows us to put words to these ‘chemical releases’ and the sensations that follow.

Thoughts and emotions occur in different areas of the brain, yet they directly influence and affect each other – but at times, it seems like they speak different languages.  The source of our emotions are derived from our subconscious (in the limbic system), whereas the source of thought is formed in our conscious mind (in the neocortex) which gives us our unique ability to think critically and rationally.

Trying to describe a feeling through language is like trying to decipher a code – that is, a code that changes at irregular intervals.  The more you understand your body’s “codes”, the better your communication with others (and yourself) will be.

Emotions Can Lie

Our brain naturally produces chemicals from our diet that affect how we feel day-to-day. Having a well balanced diet is critical for proper brain health and emotional balance. When we are emotionally balanced, our thoughts and feelings are a great source of insight and direction towards what we truly want in life. When we are easily emotionally swayed, our emotions have more control over our thoughts and our thoughts cannot always be trusted. It is a tricky dance we play and very few people give it much thought.

When we feel down, we have a tendency to desire things to bring us back up – and what better way than consuming a mind-altering upper with a high dosage of caffeine to get us going! Does your spirit rise, mood elevate, and attention span increase after a morning or afternoon fix? We have the ability to outwardly induce feelings and emotions which are not inspired from within.

What about downers (depressants)? Of course this isn’t you, but I’m sure we all have a friend that enjoys crying out their love and appreciation for us when drinking alcohol or using opiates (pain meds, etc.) This is primarily because many parts of the brain are slowed down (depressed) and other parts of the brain escape (perhaps their emotions) while also feeling euphoric and lovey-dovey.

What we put into our bodies (including food!) affects our emotional state and our overall feeling of well-being, this being said, our current emotional state may not be founded by rational means. We think most rationally when emotionally balanced and can judge our emotions more adequately. This is the primary reason why we must put out our best effort to base our emotions on concrete reasoning and thought.

Our head is a scary place and it only gets scarier when what we feel and what we think do not align!

Our emotions have the power to be our internal guidance system directing us towards our ideal life, but this systems falters when our emotions are led astray.

Don’t understand why you are experiencing an emotion? Think it out and discover if the emotion is warranted or not – and use self-discipline not to act on it.  To release the emotion, don’t fight with yourself in attempt to rid the emotion, this will only frustrate you.  Simply accept the emotion, note that it isn’t warranted, and wait for it to pass (after all, they are based on chemicals).  If you are around people, especially loved ones, I find it helpful to tell those around me about the mood I am in so they know it isn’t them.

Understanding Our Emotions

This takes time and practice. Understanding our emotions involves the conscious decision to experience the emotion instead of burying it (where it tends to secretly lie dormant) and developing the vocabulary to describe the emotions felt – and of course, not giving up!

Language is fallible and expressing our feelings can be easily lost on others when the proper vocabulary is not equally understood by every party involved. We each attach a feeling to a word, and if this word is not universally understood (or you can’t find a word), you will most assuredly create what I have mentioned above as ‘word vomit’.

My suggestion is simple, and unfortunately, I know that most people will not even attempt it. It is this: get your thoughts and feelings OUT of your head.

When we keep our thoughts and emotions bottled up, they bounce around in our head like a 5-year-old in a jungle-gym. We are lost in a tangled web of multiplying thoughts and emotions because our current thoughts and emotions tend to create more thoughts and emotions based on the ones prior… and this gets messy and very hard to cognitively understand and follow. For most of us, our rational mind is smart, but not smart enough to organize, understand, and make sense of thousands of erratic thoughts.  It’s time to organize them!

How do you get it out of your head? Do what I call, a brain dump. A brain dump includes sitting down, focusing on the emotions, experiencing the emotion and writing out (or typing) every thought that comes to mind. Don’t edit, pause, or fix errors, just get it out and don’t stop until you feel all your thoughts have been given attention. You will know when you got it all out.

When you are finished, review what you have written and try to formulate ideas or combine common thoughts to gain a better understanding – it’s surprising what you can discover. Try stepping away from your writings for a time and return to them with fresh set of eyes to gain new perspectives.

Here’s why it works:

  • Removes Pressure. Gives your head permission to move forward knowing your thoughts have been captured without risk of forgetting it.
  • Releases the Emotion.  When we express our emotions, even if it isn’t to another person, we release the hold the emotions had on us.
  • Proper Storage.  Discovering the source of the emotion allows us to store the emotion with our definition of why we felt that way into our subconscious.  When an experience happens again, how we handled the similar experience prior will have a huge role in how we feel and handle it today.
  • Analytical Understanding. Allows your conscious, thinking mind the ability to visibly see, read, and understand. When your brain is given the chance for an ‘ah-hah’ moment, a new understanding or realization, your brain reorganizes the emotions and feelings to where they need to be – aligning your thoughts with your emotions.
  • Validation.  We are able to rationally validate how we feel and this gives us comfort (that we aren’t crazy).  We have based our emotions and thoughts on concrete reasoning. (Don’t get me wrong, we can create WRONG interpretations.)

Results may include:

  • New discoveries of why you feel or felt a certain way.
  • Finding the source of a problem and not just a symptom.
  • A feeling of being lighter, less agitated, or less stressed after new discoveries.
  • Finding the right vocabulary to describe how you feel to someone else.
  • OR Nothing at all – if it doesn’t work for you, you’ve only wasted only a few minutes of your time.

When I’m angry with a friend and need to understand why, I do a brain dump. When I am stressed out, have a long list of to-dos, and need to remove them from my mind before trying to sleep… I do a brain dump. When I want to understand my agitation with a person, situation, or event… you guessed it, I do a brain dump. There is something to be said about visibly witnessing your thoughts and emotions and reading them back to yourself to gain a new understanding of oneself.

Helping Out the Homies

On a side note to help out all my emotionally struggling fellas out there – there is a lot of truth regarding the fact that men have more of a difficult time ‘deciphering’ their feelings. Some men choose not to decode their feelings because it proves to be too difficult and it’s easiest to ‘not think about it’. Some do their best to understand, but can’t translate them into words… want to know a few reasons why?

Instead of trying to understand our emotions, men are more socially conditioned to cope with them, and on top of it all, men tend to lack a comprehensive emotional vocabulary to describe what they feel.  This can be painful, and feels like living in another country when you don’t know the language – you can’t communicate! This takes practice and education.

In summary, be nice ladies.

~———–~———–~

Tell us what you think! … or feel 😉

This post was written by

Greg has written 69 articles on Student of Me.

Greg is the creator and primary writer for Student of Me. He probably spends way too much time on the computer writing, researching, programming, and working on his photography. He loves escaping from screen-time to travel, ride his motorcycle, experience the outdoors and spend time with loved ones. You can contact him at greg (at) studentofme.com!

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2 thoughts on “The Battle Between Our Thoughts and Emotions”

  1. Simi says:

    very true. I have a question though, if our emotions are our subconcious mind then that would make them our deepest selves…and the thoughts more conditioned by culture and not always what we need but are taught to want?

    When I’m angry or sad admitting this and saying to myself that “I’m not calm, I’m not happy” makes me calmer. Do you believe that these negative feelings are prolonged only because we deny them? The mind tells us feeling this way isn’t “right”, and the mind listens to culture etc.? It’s like a battle and our mind seems to never really be FOR us, but more AGAINST us and how we feel most of the time. Then eventually we can’t take it anymore and we crack.

    1. Greg Yung says:

      Great thoughts Simi. I think you are touching on many deep issues that may be difficult to respond in a short comment. Our emotions are guide posts that help us align with our deeper selves, but emotions can also be deceiving as they can be manipulated by thoughts, external influences (nutrition, atmosphere), body health (sleep, organ health). I’m a relatively positive guy, and when I notice my mind is cluttered with non-helpful thoughts, I usually know there is something going on ‘behind the curtain’ that I need to consider. I also believe that one of the biggest battles we face is getting the mind to be ‘FOR’ us, as you mentioned. Don’t deny the negative feelings, find the source (before you crack) and re-frame the thoughts that generate the emotion – there is always something to be learned. Easier said than done of course.

      I apologize for the delay, I have not been super active with SoM and would love to continue my studies/writing soon!

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