How to Fight Negative Thoughts, Feelings, and Actions
So You Can"t Fight the Feeling? Neither can I!
Sometimes you just can’t do it. You know, fight the feeling.
I was sitting here processing the fact that I struggle incredulously with the task of ‘fighting the feeling’ when a major emotional event takes place. I usually go on my merry way but have a constant battle making the thoughts go away. I can be doing great and then WHAM, the reminder hits with a vengeance and attacks from within to reach out and grab that feeling/emotion (usually negative or hurtful) back again. It’s almost like glue sticking in my brain reminding me of the action. I guess it’s part of OCD (obsessive/compulsive thinking) without the compulsions. Good grief, is this too deep? Does it go way back to the “inner child” who was forgotten? I don’t want to go back there. But I do want to go forward.
Do you want to move forward?
According to Peter McWilliams in the book You Can’t Afford The Luxury Of A Negative Thought, we each possess a thought pyramid consisting of three major things: THOUGHT, FEELING, ACTION. This gets complicated and difficult to understand but there’s truth in the theory. The three must work together to produce a positive outcome. If one is missing, then the outcome is either 1) negative 2) not at all or 3) dysfunctional. So what the heck does that mean? Here’s a simple way of putting it. You feel like you want to ride your bike. You're thinking about going out to ride your bike for a brisk run. Yet, you do nothing. No action follows the thought and feeling. So you don't ride your bike, you don't get the benefit of the exercise, and you don’t benefit from the activity. That’s a negative consequence. So what if you have a strong feeling about something that you really want and desire because it’s so wonderful and full of warm fuzzies? What if you impulsively jump into action without the third element, thought? Without any regulated thoughts to guide you, you could end up in a heap of trouble. Here’s a good example. You're feeling down and depressed, having a ‘pity party’ and begin to want something to elevate you mood to self medicate. So your feelings and emotions tell you to get a bottle of wine to give you that warm fuzzy feeling that will make it all go away. The thought process isn’t engaged because the desire and need for that ‘quick fix’ is so strong. You then jump into action , drive to the liquor store, purchase a bottle of wine and drink the whole thing, thus blowing 12 years sobriety. There’s the negative result. Your thought-action-feeling pyramid was broken so you paid the consequence. Rats.
What to do?
So what’s this got to do with obsessive thoughts that keep coming back to haunt you? Hurtful thoughts of feeling lost, being sad and experiencing anger? They are only thoughts , that’s all. Without the other elements, they’re useless. What you do with them is up to you. Here’s the reality: the thoughts, feelings, and emotions keep coming back to torment you. They are present. You tell them to go away, ask God to remove them, and they leave for a while, but then come back to haunt you. You have a choice about what to do with the thoughts. You can either linger in the feeling, continue in the thought, and do nothing (no action) about making yourself feel better except think about how much you feel hurt, sad and angry…you know the deal. OR, you can get in action and try to do something about the recurring thoughts and feelings to turn them into a positive. Get it? You don’t deny the feelings and thoughts. They are real. So here’s your plan for a positive outcome to balance the Thought-Feeling-Action pyramid:
Your thoughts : Negative. Why do you always set yourself up for hurt? What’s wrong with you that others don’t want to share with you? Why do you get rejected? What did you do wrong to disappoint others? You want others to pay for what they have done to you. You want others to hurt for hurting you!. You are a victim because others hurt you.
Your feelings : Sad, angry, rejected & hurt. You want others to care about you the way you care for them. You want to feel loved. You want to feel cherished. You want undivided attention & acknowledgement. You want the warm fuzzies back to make you feel good again.
You plan of action : (EXAMPLE) Write, express, share, acknowledge your feelings/emotions, give to others. You're going to write an article about what you're thinking & feeling so it will help others who may be experiencing the same thing. You're going to express how it really makes you feel so you can feel better about yourself. You're going to share this with thousands of other individuals to create a learning experience for them. You're going to acknowledge and not deny that you're experiencing these thoughts and feelings at this time in your life, but you're going to turn them into a positive by ‘being with it’. You refuse to allow the thought/feelings to own you! You're going to continue to help other people through sharing with others and by seeking a positive experience.
How about that for a plan of action! you're going to attack those negative thoughts like a rat on a Cheeto!
Here’s your thought for the day: Fighting the feeling; can’t fight the feeling, can’t fight the thought, but won’t quit trying.
“You can’t heal a wound by saying it’s not there!” Jeremiah 6:14 (TLB)
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