How much do thoughts really matter?
When you are feeling negative emotions, do you ask ‘What is the quickest way to make these feelings go away?’ OR ‘What are these feelings and where do they come from?’ Our thoughts can be incredibly powerful and how we choose to respond to the feelings we have can lift us up or send us crashing to the ground. If we ask the first question, it can lead to self-medicating. Sugar in particular, food in general, alcohol and drugs are all used to soothe and comfort us. When we ask the second question, we are examining rather than pushing away. If we hold these feelings out in front of us for inspection, it separates them from us in a way that allows us to view them in a different way. When we ask ourselves ‘Where do they come from?’, we are getting to the cause, rather than masking the symptoms.
Feelings left unchecked and not dealt with can be incredibly destructive. The feeling that can be the most destructive of all is loneliness. It has a huge impact on longevity. You may have read social media posts of mine where I talked about Blue Zones. These are areas of the world where people regularly live to 100 years old in good health. One of the remarkable things about these areas, is that older people play an active part in the community. They are valued for their contribution and their wisdom.
The following words are not mine, I wrote them down without the author. If anyone recognises them, please tell me so I can give credit.
‘We believe that the most terrifying and destructive feeling that a person can experience is psychological isolation. This is not the same as being alone. It is a feeling that one is locked out of the possibility of human connection and being powerless to change the situation. In the extreme, psychological isolation can lead to a sense of hopelessness and desperation. People will do almost anything to escape this combination of condemned isolation and powerlessness.’
Psychological isolation is self-imposed, it’s almost certainly based on past, negative experiences, but the past is not the same as the present or the future. Recognising thought patterns that might lead to this terrible mental state, is key to never arriving there. So ultimately our thoughts matter more than anything else. It’s not about ‘positive thinking’, but acknowledging the difference between our thoughts and facts, being aware of the source from which they came and recognising our ability to think in a way which will be so much more beneficial to us.