Do Thoughts Cause Feelings?
"Wake" by Colleen Blackard
(Ballpoint pen drawing)
My dear friend and colleague Dr. Theresa Kellam, a licensed psychologist, focuses on feelings in her therapy practice. Eva and I focus more on thoughts and beliefs in our coaching. Both produce life changing results.
I remember Theresa once telling me that thoughts arose from emotions. I couldn't quite wrap my head around that fully, but that possibility has always stuck with me. She is one of those wonderful individuals who is comfortable with her emotions, whereas I had to do a lot of work to even allow mine.
Emotions always seemed mysterious to me (and even wrong) until I discovered that you could track them back to a thought. For example when I'm feeling teary, I track down the thought behind the tears. I look for the specific thought that sends me over the edge.
When I think I've got it, rather than push it (and the feeling) away, I test it out. I recall the thought and repeat it (SAY WHAT YOU SEE) to see if the tears come. If they do, I know I've got it!
After allowing myself to cry it out, I then work through the thought that created it, with this understanding...
...if a thought or belief doesn't create joy, it's not the Truth.
I remember tracking the tears back to a thought after my mother was diagnosed with Alzheimer's, and I learned she would die soon. The tears came from my thoughts of loss. And even though death seemed like the ultimate loss, I knew that something about it wasn't the Truth.
Shortly after that I had a breakthrough that allowed me to embrace my love of familiarity. Because our society celebrates being adventurous as the "right" way to be, I had felt wrong to love the familiar. For my own defense, my subconscious basically interpreted loss (and death) as a painful kind of change in order to justify my love of familiarity, as in, "See, see! Nothing should ever change! Loss hurts! Can I love familiarity now?"
After the breakthrough, when my love of familiarity no longer needed to be defended, I was able to release my adaptive beliefs about loss and death, accept my mother's transition, and see that it was actually just change, which is the Truth of the physical world. When you think about it, change is a brilliant way to bring all possibilities into physical form. Given the limitations of time and space, I really can't think of any other way to do that!
So basically, I recreate sad thoughts until I am able to release the tears and shift the belief.
I truly believe emotions not only can hold adaptive beliefs in place ("I feel sad so it must be true"), but serve as flags to lead us back to those beliefs over and over until we get them resolved and back in alignment with the Truth of the Universe.
That's why in our private coaching, Eva and I listen for the tears, allow you to fully feel the feelings, then coach you through your beliefs. The lightness on the other side of a breakthrough feels like a new day!
My Fear to Fun post takes you through the steps I described above, and includes a body awareness step for fear. Fear was harder for me to recognize as a flag than tears.
Since both Theresa's approach and ours produce similar results, I suspect the truth is that feelings and thoughts have a cyclical relationship like the proverbial chicken and the egg. In the case of thoughts and feelings, which came first doesn't matter, because if they create each other, you can break the cycle from either direction.
So if you would like to do some breakthrough work Language of Listening® style, starting from your thoughts or beliefs, please talk to us. And if you are looking to get in touch with your emotions or clear an emotional block, I hope that you will talk to Theresa. You'll feel the love from the moment you first hear her voice: theresakellam.com
PS The featured drawing is by my daughter Colleen. Originals and prints of this drawing and many more are available at colleenblackard.com