You Can Command A Feeling

Feelings are not just an internal thermometer giving you a read on the state of your mood, no more than thoughts are an indicator of your state of mind.  They can be an indicator (even a bad indicator), but they are also much, much more.

If you are not directing your thinking, your brain can take you to any of hundreds of places you’d rather not go, and to places you don’t belong.

The same is true of your feeling state.  Your brain will take you in a thousand feeling and mood directions if you let it go there.  Just because you feel a thing doesn’t make it true or right or morally good. 

Emotional reasoning is a negative way of seeing the world based on feelings that are inaccurate readings of what is true.

Internal feelings can be highly erratic.  They may be indicative of inner states if we learn to listen to some of them (without discernment and consideration, feelings can be deceptive measures), and they can be as directed as the state and strength of your physical muscles.

Peace, for example, is a feeling you can feel not because it indicates an inner state that you have come to possess, but because you have learned to be agile and because you have developed some skill and practice in having this feeling.

Think about it. We like to believe that we can feel “love” when we choose to.  Actually love is the hardest of feelings to feel.  It takes a lot to pull a little bit of love out of people who don’t want to feel it.

Ultimately, love is connected to all of the feeling states like peace, joy, hope and gratitude.  They are all of one nature and they each pull on the other.  Love can be more stubborn and resistant to our command of it because we can be afraid or because we just don’t want to make connections.

If you can train your thoughts, you can train your feelings.

We just never think about training our feelings.

Your feelings are “you.” You live where your feelings are.  We describe our lives to ourselves and to others in terms of what we are feeling.  How many times do you ask someone how they are feeling and how many times are you asked, “How do you feel?”

Oftentimes we are asked, “How are you today?” and the intent behind the question is asking how we are feeling.

Try finding three cues to use to feel peace several dozen times a day.  For example, right now, three of my cues are:

1. Turning off a light.
2. A red traffic light where I have to stop and wait.
3. Every time I see a picture of food.

I have reasons for each of these cues.  I want to condition in a response of peace to save energy.  I want to turn a period of unrest, like a red light, and the agitated waiting for it to turn, into a positive, and I want to feel peace and not anxiety or desire every time I see food.  I want more emotional control over what I feel when I see food.

But even more basic than these reasons is that I want “peace” to be at my disposal and for my use when I want to feel it.  I want to be able to get to peace immediately.  I want that kind of emotional muscle.  Zap!  Feel it. I want to be there.

On a scale of 1-10, I am not always able nor do I desire to be at 10 (the max on my scale).  Sometimes I want just enough peace to calm down and not respond erratically to a situation.  Sometimes I have had an uncomfortable thought and I just want to calm down.  Sometimes peace at a “3” will do.

But I can have much more command over this feeling state than I used to think was possible.  I don’t have to meditate myself there from a lotus position. I can though, on command, and so can you with some practice.

It is part of our Emotional Gym.

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About the author

Dr. William K. Larkin

Copyright © 2015 The Applied Neuroscience Institute