How thoughts can become feelings

Last time I talked about the difference between thoughts and feelings.  Let’s take a closer look at how thoughts can become feelings.


I will give in and agree that there is something to be said about intuition, but that usually involves some form of evidence or evaluating (thinking about) something that just happened, not just a feeling you have that your spouse has done something wrong.  There could be some change in your spouse’s behavior that you noticed and now you suspect cheated. After that you start looking closer for something negative or more evidence that he/she is cheating. Typically, you will end up finding evidence that confirms what you were looking for.  


To illustrate this, go out to any busy road near you and count the red cars going in one particular direction (north).  count the red cars for 30 minutes. So after the 30 minutes, go tell someone your findings. However, this person asks you how many green cars you saw.  You won’t have any idea because all you were looking for was the red ones. In this example, the red cars represent the flaws your husband or wife have. The green cars represent their good qualities.  If you look only for evidence of their flaws, cheating, you will find evidence of it.


To expand on this example, what if a car passes you that is maroon, do you count it?  Most would or at least consider it. We tend to do this with people, also. “You almost flirted with that waitress, so if I wasn’t here, you would have gone to a motel with her.”  I know I am exaggerating, but I hope you see what can happen if you look only for the bad qualities we have and don’t look for the positives.


All of these observations will lead our thoughts/evaluations to become ‘feelings’ or strongly held beliefs.  So, be ready to question yourself, your interpretations, and your ‘feelings’, especially if you do enter counseling, unless you really want the relationship to end.  


Your thoughts about your spouse will not change unless you look for things that are contrary to what you are looking for.  Nothing changes unless something else changes first. And both have to make a change if you want to save your marriage. To understand the difference between a thought and a feeling, you have to listen to yourself and hear your own words and acknowledge when you mistake your thought for a feeling.  You can change your mind, your thought, with new evidence. When you have the courage to look at new information, your feelings may change with your new conclusion.


To be sure, it is more likely that you will notice your spouse mixing the thoughts and feelings before you noticed yourself doing it.  When you notice your spouse doing this, don’t point this out in the middle of an argument. That will make it worse. You have to pretend that they said “think” rather than “feel”.  This will move you closer to understanding and, thus, a resolution. Later, when you both are calm, you might point it out, but you do not have to make accusations. If it is pointed out to you, please just agree and say that you will get it right the next time.


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