Do you ever wonder why you do the things you do? A common explanation for this is used by various different authors and given various different names, but it goes something like this:
SITUATIONS (outside us) lead to THOUGHTS (within us)
that lead to EMOTIONS (feelings) that lead to ACTIONS that lead to RESULTS
We might even ask “Why am I feeling what I feel?” According to this model, we feel what we feel because of a thought we have. Those thoughts are usually based on beliefs – beliefs about our identity, beliefs about our world and belief about what is right and just. They also could just be random survival thoughts that makes us feel afraid or anxious or even happy! So, those feelings that come from thoughts help determine what we DO!
For example, when my boss says something negative (situation), I think “that is not right” or “that is not fair” (thought). This thought (not his / her action) causes me to feel angry or hurt (emotion) which, in turn causes me to withdraw or act or spout off (action). This may not be the RESULT either of us hoped for. What if I could change the way I think? Would that change the things I feel and, ultimately, the things I do?
What if I could “take every thought captive” and decide to think, in that moment about my true identity? Epictetus said “It’s not what happens to you, but how you react to it that matters.” Maybe that is what he was talking about. It’s not what happens to you, but how you interpret what happens to you that matters. There is very little I can control about what others do – but, if I can change my thoughts, then I can change my emotions and my actions and, eventually, my results.
Having better results doesn’t start with “things going our way.” It’s starts with us changing our thinking which changes our emotions which changes our actions. Changing our thinking isn’t ignoring the obvious – it’s about reinterpreting things in light of higher values. We have to get beyond just reacting and start thinking!
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