I am going on a canoe trip down the Whanganui river this coming weekend and I am really excited! Ever since we had a cottage in Taumarunui I have wanted to paddle down the river. There is something very special about this beautiful part of New Zealand. When you ask me where I lost my heart, I will answer without hesitation: “Taumarunui” – not Paris, London, Berlin, Rome, Athens, or other places of ancient culture and great beauty. There is something untouched, old and raw, tranquil, unspoiled and scary about the Ruapehu district that touches something in me and makes me melt inside.
With these kind of thoughts its only natural that I feel very happy and peaceful about this weekend. My breathing is slowing down and my eyes de-focus. I am in the zone. Happy. Content. The world is a good place. The Whanganui river is not causing my feelings. I dare say the river just flows towards the sea as it has done for thousands of years with no concern for my feeling states. It is the specific way I am thinking about the trip that is causing my feelings.
This is a different story for my husband. He thinks very differently about my river trip. He is worried about any accidents that could happen. The canoe could tip over in one of the rapids and I could drown; the river could be very wild and difficult to manoeuver due to the recent downpours; he is not coming along so he can’t keep an eye on things. He thinks about all the things that could go wrong and is worried and stressed. With these kind of thoughts he feels anxious for us and is worried. How he thinks about my trip is a threat to his peace of mind. It’s not the river trip that causes his feelings but the specific way he thinks about it.
Like every other human being both my husband and I are living in the feeling of our thinking. Nothing in our environment is causing our feelings. Never ever. The way we are built is that we always feel our thinking. Always, whether we are conscious of it or not.
How is it helpful to understand the thinking=feeling connection? If I know that my feelings are caused by my own personal thinking and that I have the choice to think about any circumstance or event in many different ways, than I realise that my feelings are not information about the circumstances or events in my life but about my personal state of mind. And because our state of mind changes all the time, from moment to moment, I am bound to feel differently about any circumstance or event in my life in a wee while. I can be less reactive to events in my life because the source of my feeling is my thinking. It’s just a matter of understanding that a thought is just a thought – nothing else – and we can change our thoughts at the drop of the hat!