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What comes first? Thought or feeling?

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Idiotic
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What comes first? Thought or feeling?

Post by Idiotic » Wed Jul 03, 2019 3:34 pm

So I've been trying to be more aware whenever Im in a shitty mood and can't get anything done. I noticed that changing my feeling is wayyy harder than changing my thoughts. Do negative thoughts create a negative feeling or does bad feeling create negative thoughts. And when you're trying to change it, what do you go after first. I feel I have no control over my feelings. Like I was trying the whole ' snap out of it, it isn't so bad' , but my insides just didn't follow you know. Also, I was never a student of psychology, so what is feeling? Where is it located , I mean when I feel shitty , I feel it around my imagined centre somewhere inside, but I don't know.
Any thoughts and ideas.
Now I've tried breathing exercises, and they work sometimes, when I want to manage my anxiety. But generally when I'm feeling low, I don't even feel like doing them.
I keep dancing on my own - Robyn

daydreamer
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Re: What comes first? Thought or feeling?

Post by daydreamer » Wed Jul 03, 2019 5:03 pm

CBT teaches us abnormal thoughts cause abnormal feelings. i think this is at least partially correct. life taught me not to take abnormal negative feelings at the face value and realize that they are fakes, that will go away later. this is the basis for meditations too. in the last month, i started grading my energy/emotions/conscientiousness/LE levels on daily basis hoping to discover some trends.

the "Feeling Good" book is a cheap and easy way to get started on CBT.

JohnDeux
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Re: What comes first? Thought or feeling?

Post by JohnDeux » Wed Jul 03, 2019 6:49 pm

daydreamer wrote:
Wed Jul 03, 2019 5:03 pm
CBT teaches us abnormal thoughts cause abnormal feelings. i think this is at least partially correct.
Partially.....yes. But I think this is a classic "which came first, chicken or egg" phenomenon. On the one hand I certainly agree that the mind and our thoughts is a powerful modulator of mood. For example, If we get into mental catastrophizing, there is high likelihood that this will generate and anxious state. In recent years I've come to realize, however, that additionally our minds probably make up scenarios that are congruent with our mood..... a mood which may have existed, say, from the time we woke up in the morning. In this case, a negative feeling may have been there running under the surface for some other reason....and then our mind actually starts churning on bad thoughts as a way to "join in" with the emotional state. For that reason I do think it good not only to examine the immediate 'churning' thoughts that we feel are making us feel bad, but also to dig under a bit more to see if there are other, deeper issues that have been nagging in the back of our minds for some time. Often these will not be apparent until some other venue that triggers us, .... and THEN we might see a tie-in between a past mood and some 'theme' in our lives that is associated with that mood.
"Pay no attention to that man behind the curtain...."~ The Wizard of Oz

MrSpock
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Re: What comes first? Thought or feeling?

Post by MrSpock » Wed Jul 03, 2019 6:54 pm

Idiotic wrote:
Wed Jul 03, 2019 3:34 pm
Also, I was never a student of psychology, so what is feeling? Where is it located , I mean when I feel shitty , I feel it around my imagined centre somewhere inside, but I don't know.
Any thoughts and ideas.
With the disclaimer that I don't think anyone really knows the answers to all your questions in this post, my personal take is this:

Feelings, or emotions, are fundamentally "behavior compelling signals". It is the vehicle by which we are driven to do, or stop doing, something necessary. The simplest examples are the emotions that result from biological needs, like pain or hunger. Without them, we wouldn't be aware of the need to fix or feed our bodies, nor would we be urged to do something about that.

In that sense, emotions are externally originated and involuntary. There is no way you can stop feeling hungry if your body needs food, and the only way to shut it up is to eat something.

I like to think of (a spectrum with) lower-level emotions signaling lower-level needs, like survival needs, and higher-level emotions signaling high-level needs like having a purpose in life.

Even though emotions compel a behavior, they do not directly exert it, and it is the subjective experience of the emotion (the becoming aware of the signal) which ultimately drives the actual behavior. "Emotional Intelligence" would then be the ability to decode and interpret those signals and manage the urge properly.

Clearly, emotions (or feelings) defined like that are impossible to change and control. It would be like trying not to feel rain coming down. If it is pouring all over you, you'll feel it, and there is nothing you can do about it.

Having said that..

Some non-mainstream views propose the following: There is something entirely different, even if co-related, that is often confounded with emotions. I called that "disposition".

For example, Love, Hope, Forgiveness, Pessimism, Resentment, etc... would not be emotions but dispositions. What happens is that all dispositions carry an associated emotion, such as Joy or Fear.

The fundamental characteristic of a disposition is that it something we choose and as such it is under our control and we can change it. I can choose to Love, to Hope, to Reject, to Resent, to Oppose, etc.. even if I cannot chose to feel Joy, Despair, Anger, Surprise.

You won't find this distinction between emotions and dispositions in the usual theories. The common "emotion wheel" shows both as if they were all the same. I won't get into an argument whether which view is right, specially since, as usual, the differences are rooted in much more fundamental conceptual stances that the particular subject like emotions in this case.

I'll just say that I found this distinction highly instrumental because it separates what is and what is not under our control.

Now about thoughts....

That is complex because "a thought" is best defined as a mental process, but these come in different forms.
There is the "linguistically-centered association of ideas", that is the simplest form of "thought" (the "voice in my head"). That is what we (usually) mean when we consider the act of thinking. Let me call these "linguistic thoughts" (because they are form with words).

But, for example, the image formed from sight is also a "thought", but of a different form.


Additionally, and here's why I'm saying this: the mental activity that results from, or correlates to the subjective experience of an emotion is also a "thought" of a certain form, but it is independent and separated from the "usual form of thought" that might also result from the emotion, such as when I think "I am happy".

Furthermore, there is the mental process that is often called "before, pre, or instinct thought".

Just like distinguishing emotions from dispositions, I find it important to distinguish linguistic-thought from pre/instinct-thought because of the way they separately participate in decision-making. For example, our "involuntary limerent actions" are, ultimately, "decided", but they use little to none "linguistic thinking".

It seems to me that we have much more "conscious" control in the formation of linguistic-thought than in instinct-thought, yet both take part of decision-making.
Idiotic wrote:
Wed Jul 03, 2019 3:34 pm
So I've been trying to be more aware whenever Im in a shitty mood and can't get anything done. I noticed that changing my feeling is wayyy harder than changing my thoughts.
From the ideas above, you wouldn't indeed succeed in changing your emotions. All you can do is try to change whatever they are signaling.

That in itself can be external, with biological and "psychological" factors such as a disease, and chemical brain imbalance or a trauma, counting as external. If it is external, you just cannot directly change it. But you can "impact it". For example, try to heal it.

Or it can be internal. The emotion can signal a dysfunctional disposition. For example, intolerance could trigger anger. Resentment could trigger despair. But you are in control of your disposition. You can Accept rather than Reject. Forgive rather than Resent.

Idiotic wrote:
Wed Jul 03, 2019 3:34 pm
Do negative thoughts create a negative feeling or does bad feeling create negative thoughts. And when you're trying to change it, what do you go after first.
I strongly believe negative (linguist) thoughts can indeed trigger negative emotions. And it makes sense, for emotions are "behavior compelling signals". So just as if I'm walking into a dark alley I'll experience fear, so that I can be urged to walk out of there, if I'm thinking life makes no sense and I rather end it, it might trigger Depression (which compels "inaction" and is a mood that, in my opinion at least, can be instrumental when we need to stop doing something).

Conversely, the point of any signal is to communicate, and the point of communication is to elicit a response. Thus, emotions can in turn drive thoughts.

In other words, emotions and (linguistic) thoughts are inter-dependent.

But having said that, since you cannot control emotions, only dispositions and voluntary thoughts, the way out of a negative emotion is always to manage one (or both) of these.


[there is way too much to write about this, but I'll stop here]

L-F
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Re: What comes first? Thought or feeling?

Post by L-F » Thu Jul 04, 2019 6:47 am

Some thoughtful replies! I always like JDs posts because they get you thinking. Plus I have a secret non-limerent crush on JD.

JD! You're my hero [insert superhero emoji]

I've learned a lot from JD, David, Spin, Iddy and others. So much so it sped up my healing. Thanks, guys! You rock.

Feelings. Idk what comes first, I'd say both plays different roles at any given time. There are many different therapeutic strategies for identifying and processing feelings.

Maybe we could all post links to different approaches?
Have conquered limerence. I'm no expert but have learnt enough to know where to look for answers.
Limerence Net helped to heal my heart which led to forgiving my abusers ❤

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Lim
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Re: What comes first? Thought or feeling?

Post by Lim » Thu Jul 04, 2019 9:29 am

When I was in an intensive outpatient program for mood disorders, we were taught that feelings come “first” in the sense that they are fundamental bodily reactions, not subject to (direct) conscious control.

However, it’s complicated because our thinking patterns, which can be consciously controlled, influence our emotions a great deal as well.

In that sense, then, we do have some control over the intensity of our feelings.

Cognitive distortions and negative thoughts “add fuel to the fire” so to speak and can intensify and legitimize bad feelings. They key is to become aware of and correct cognitive distortions and to acknowledge feelings without identifying with them.

Easier said than done. I myself can never spot my cognitive distortions until after the feeling has passed. When I think “I am a rotten person” for instance I realize my therapist and others might disagree with me but I feel they are just mistaken and I am right. I can’t help but believe it is true. Even when I think of all of the good things about me they seem insignificant.

I feel like my nervous system itself is dysregulated in a way that only some sort of somatic therapy or medication can heal, but maybe that’s a cognitive distortion.
I’m a 21 year old female (single).
My LO is a 54 year old male (married w/ kids).

Cookie
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Re: What comes first? Thought or feeling?

Post by Cookie » Thu Jul 04, 2019 4:54 pm

JohnDeux wrote:
Wed Jul 03, 2019 6:49 pm
daydreamer wrote:
Wed Jul 03, 2019 5:03 pm
CBT teaches us abnormal thoughts cause abnormal feelings. i think this is at least partially correct.
But I think this is a classic "which came first, chicken or egg" phenomenon.
Yep, they are intertwined. The gut and brain are connected when we are in an embryonic state, and they separate as we develop. But they don't really separate, which is why we feel things in our gut and immediately think about them. Or start thinking about things and feel our stomachs sink. I think something like 90% of our serotonin is produced in the gut.
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Idiotic
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Re: What comes first? Thought or feeling?

Post by Idiotic » Sat Jul 06, 2019 3:33 pm

Thanks for your replies everyone.
As some of you have said, I also feel that feeling kinda 'comes first', whatever that means. Its hard to explain, it's like looking at things through colored glasses, it's the whole atmosphere, and everything else seems secondary to it(maybe this is where there is a high genetic influence component). Like what JD said, sometimes the mood might be present since the time you wake up, and everything else is overlayed on that.
@Mr Spock,Its interesting about dispositions, I guess someone who actually chooses their disposition must have a pretty good handle on their emotions as well.
When talking about 'feeling' I think I basically divide it into the binary of good and bad. That's it. I don't have the words to describe their complexity. Maybe I mean mood?
If I'm feeling good, negative emotions can be 'managed', like if you feel supported and loved , maybe you can manage your fear of doing a certain activity and put yourself out there, but if you're under this grey cloud everything feels like death.
I keep dancing on my own - Robyn

Idiotic
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Re: What comes first? Thought or feeling?

Post by Idiotic » Sat Jul 06, 2019 3:34 pm

Cookie wrote:
Thu Jul 04, 2019 4:54 pm
I think something like 90% of our serotonin is produced in the gut.
Thats insane. Do I need an overdose of happy bacteria in my gut =:) =:) :o3
I keep dancing on my own - Robyn

daydreamer
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Re: What comes first? Thought or feeling?

Post by daydreamer » Sat Jul 06, 2019 4:16 pm

Idiotic wrote:
Sat Jul 06, 2019 3:34 pm
Cookie wrote:
Thu Jul 04, 2019 4:54 pm
I think something like 90% of our serotonin is produced in the gut.
Thats insane. Do I need an overdose of happy bacteria in my gut =:) =:) :o3
i don't believe all that serotonin from gut gets to the brain. pretty much none of that (does not pass the blood-brain barrier). it's a common myth. i'm not saying that there is no connection between gut and brain, but serotonin is not the one.

besides, serotonin in the gut promotes diarrhea, so be careful what you wish for.

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