Lucas Brenner » Articles » Feelings Are Only Triggered by Thoughts

If you feel stress or any other strong emotion, you feel sucked deeper and deeper into the negative feelings. It seems as if you cannot escape this vicious circle, but this is only an illusion.

George Pransky describes in his book “The Relationship Handbook” that all emotions are triggered only by thoughts. When we have a negative thought and focus on it, for example, it triggers stress.

Thoughts therefore control how we feel, but also how we perceive other people and how we think of ourselves. If you can steer your thoughts in the right direction, you feel better.

But how do you control your thoughts?

Feelings Are Linked to a Certain Perspective

You should first perceive your thoughts just as suggestions and possibilities. They are spontaneous reactions to internal or external stimuli. A screaming child on the train, for example, triggers annoyance as a first reaction. But when you realize that the child is hurt and screams because of it, you suddenly feel compassion and concern.

You can also change your other feelings with the same speed when you take on a new perspective. What are you missing about the situation, and how might that change how you feel?

Emotions are just as real as dreams, according to Pransky. Your feelings can only affect you if you actively think about them.

Thoughts Need Attention

For thoughts to trigger negative emotions, we need to focus on them. If you let the thoughts pass instead, they can't do any further damage.

If all you can think about is your next deadline, try to block out those thoughts and focus on the present. It's easier said than done, but you'll notice that the stress eases.

Of course, this is not to say that you should ignore your problems. But if you've done everything you can and still can't get away from the issue, it's best to push thoughts of it aside.

All Feelings Pass

Even if it doesn't feel like it in the situation, all feelings and moods pass. It's normal to feel more stressed or unhappy some days than others. It helps just to sleep on it for a night.

In his book, George Pransky describes five types of thoughts that evoke different emotions.

If you realize that your feelings are only triggered by thoughts, you can control them better. The next time you have negative thoughts, try these techniques.

No one manages to block out every bad thought, but you'll get better at it over time. You are not at the mercy of your emotions, but have the power to control them in your favor.