Programme: Learning to think differently

5. Thoughts and feelings influence each other

Reading time: 4 minutes


You have looked closely at your thoughts. Now we are going to look at how thoughts and feelings influence each other. In card 3, you filled in the thought record and you learnt how the way in which the thoughts we have during an event can determine how we feel.


This task will illustrate how thoughts influence feelings.

Event: You are at work when you receive a message from your neighbour to say that there is a leak in your house. During your break, you ask your boss if you can leave work to deal with the problem. But you can see that your boss is not focusing his attention on you as you ask the question. He is not looking at you. His phone starts ringing, and he answers it while you are speaking to him 

Here are three different thoughts that you could have in this situation. What feelings do you think would accompany each of these thoughts about your boss’s behaviour? Share your answers with your online psychologist or a friend.

1. Thought: My boss does not think I am important. I am not worth anything.

Feeling: How would this thought make you feel?

  • Angry/irritated

  • Sad/upset

  • Scared/nervous

  • Ashamed/shame

  • Happy

2. Thought: My boss is rude. He is offending me by not looking at me.

Feeling: How would this thought make you feel?

  • Angry/irritated

  • Sad/upset

  • Scared/nervous

  • Ashamed/shame

  • Happy

3. Thought: If my boss will not listen to me then I’ll just go.

Feeling: How would this thought make you feel?

  • Angry/irritated

  • Sad/upset

  • Scared/nervous

  • Ashamed/shame

  • Happy

This exercise shows how one event can provoke many different thoughts and emotions. These thoughts and emotions influence our behaviour, so it is important to be aware of what you are thinking. 

Thoughts determine emotions and emotions determine thoughts, regardless of the circumstances. Once you are experiencing an emotion, thoughts will start to flood in and these thoughts may further establish  that emotion. Somebody who is feeling angry will tend to think about things that conform with their angry emotions. People who are depressed often think about the dark aspects of life, and anxious people are likely to think about frightening things that may have happened to them or might happen to them in the future. This means that the stronger our emotions are, the more powerful our thoughts become. When we are feeling strong, we are less likely to be influenced by our thoughts in this way; we create our own  narrative inside our heads. 
 


Reflect & connect

Answer these questions with your online psychologist or a friend:

1. Can you think of some examples when your thoughts influenced your emotions?

2. Can you think of some thoughts that have a positive effect on your emotions?

3. Can you think of some thoughts that have a negative effect on your emotions?


 

Scales diagram:    THOUGHTS & EMOTIONS

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