Your Feelings Are Where You Live

Whether you know what they are or not.

Getting into and remaining in an UpSpiral of healthy living cannot be sustained only by thinking positive thoughts. It cannot be done only by positive cognitive affirmations.

Being in the UpSpiral is not a “head trip” where you are trying to stamp out every negative thought you get. Changing your thinking alone will not change your life.

If positive thoughts and affirmations lead to a change in affect, in what you are feeling and what you are experiencing on a “gut” level, then they are helpful.

If you can’t get what you’re thinking to a felt “heart” level of experiencing, your UpSpiral is going to be a sham. It’s a pretense, it’s a pretend, a “smash the negative thought until it wears you out” kind of experience.

What starts as thought will become “experienced” or felt if that is the intention. I can spend an hour listing what I am grateful for, but unless the process leads me into the experienced emotional place of feeling gratitude on a “heart/gut” level, I am deluding myself that the benefit of this exercise will last beyond the time it took me to do it.

Our hardest work at ANI, whether with individuals, groups, or classes, is teaching this realization:

Thoughts are thoughts; feelings are feelings.

Do you know the difference? Can you identify when you are thinking a thought and feeling a feeling?  Most people cannot.

That is why we have two different scales of measurement. Your UpSpiral Score is expressed in what you are thinking. Your Emotional Scale is expressed in what your are feeling. It is what you are feeling that will most get you all of the benefits of being in the UpSpiral. Sometimes changing what you are thinking can change what you’re feeling; a lot of the time it cannot.

There are a lot of people spouting the importance of positivity today and even talking about practical application. Practical application means that you know the difference between thinking and feeling and that you know what you are feeling.

One popular seer on the self-improvement circuit today says, “Good feels good, bad feels bad.”

The problem with this is the assumption that people know the difference, that they can feel their feelings long enough to know which is which or even take the time to find out.

We are an intellectualizing culture. We think, think, think, and convince ourselves that we know, know, know.

The benefits of an UpSpiral of positive emotion exist precisely there –in positive emotion. The biological changes to the brain and the body from greater openness to lowering cortisol levels exist because of a change in EMOTION and genuine emotional connection.

What we work on here is a change in your emotional life. With a thousand techniques and strategies, we ask you in one way or another, “can you connect with what you’re feeling?” In our 12 step groups, you share in such a way that the people listening can track you emotionally and identify with you on both a thinking and an emotional level and then identify with that- we call it “ID-OK.”

So, ask yourself, what are you thinking and then ask yourself what are you feeling?

They are not the same. Identifying what you are feeling is an important marker for where you really are in your UpSpiral; what you are thinking will tell you where you are as a result of those feelings. That difference will lead you to making connections with yourself and others that lead to the “openness” the characterizes a true UpSpiral.

Welcome to positive emotional education. This is not just controlling your negative emotions so you don’t say what you’ll regret. That is only a piece of emotional education. It is about creating the emotional states that will cause you not to regret that you have missed loving and living your life.

About the author

Dr. William K. Larkin

Copyright © 2015 The Applied Neuroscience Institute