Your thoughts aren’t what make you who you are

WELL_Introspective_Pond_Sunset_6c_0415

The question

Last week, while everyone was enjoying the spring weather, I was in a really bad mood. Everything was bugging me — my noisy neighbors, my kids’ complaining, my allergies, my mounting bills and my endless to-do list. I felt like I should have been happy, but I was drowning in negativity. Is there something wrong with me?

 

Seventeenth century French philosopher Rene Descartes is famously quoted as saying “I think, therefore I am.” But the latest psychological research suggests otherwise – that we are not our thoughts nor our feelings. In fact, the research points more to what Buddhists and meditators have known for years — that our minds effortlessly produce an endless stream of both positive and negative thoughts and emotions that are pretty much beyond our control.

Sad, mad, glad, bad (feeling guilt or disgust) and afraid are the primary colors of human emotions. We can expect to cycle through variations of these feelings several times on any given day, week or month. Just as our thoughts trigger feelings (believing something is wrong with us makes us feel bad), our feelings conversely trigger thoughts (a feeling of sadness may prompt us to find an explanation).

In her book “Radical Acceptance,” psychologist and meditation teacher Dr. Tara Brach talks about the “trance of unworthiness” that comes about when people criticize themselves for experiencing undesirable but perfectly natural emotions. Drawing from Buddhist wisdom, she notes that emotions are nothing but body sensations, which are, by nature, fleeting. Instead of recognizing them for what they are, we make ourselves feel worse when we react to them and give them power to define us, believing that our negative thoughts make us a bad person.

What’s more, Brach notes the more we resist our sensations through distractions, the more they persist. Instead, she suggests welcoming the full range of human experience by assuming a practice of “saying yes,” to whatever thought and feeling sensations arise in the moment – yes, to the noisy neighbors, yes to complaining kids, yes to dread about mounting bills, and even yes to allergies.

Noticing and welcoming our experiences doesn’t necessarily solve the problem of how our bills piled up, or why our children are complaining. But eliminating the layer of resistance allows us to soften into a gentler way of being so that we are less reactive and have more energy to face life as messy and wonderful as we find it.


News
Entertainment
Sports
Lifestyle
Local

Judge holds Amber Hellesten for trial on murder…

Amber Hellesten turns 16 next Wednesday, April 30. It could be her first of many birthdays behind bars.

National

University of New Mexico running back arrested for…

By Joseph J. KolbALBUQUERQUE, New Mexico (Reuters) - A University of New Mexico football player has been arrested on suspicion of raping and kidnapping a…

National

Teen who stowed away on flight to Hawaii…

By Alex Dobuzinskis(Reuters) - A teenage boy who stowed away on a flight from California to Hawaii in the frozen, oxygen-deprived wheel well of a…

Money

Investing is easier than you think

Easy investing: Everything you need to know about investing, you already do.

Television

John Turturro tags in for Robert De Niro…

The cast of the courtroom drama miniseries has undergone yet another shift. Following Robert De Niro's exit, the cable network has brought in John Turturro…

Television

TV watch list, Tuesday, April 22: 'Glee,' 'Agents…

'Glee' Rachel makes her Broadway debut in "Funny Girl." Remember when she was just a high school drama nerd? FOX, 8PM 'Marvel's Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D.'…

The Word

Lindsay Lohan's big, drunk interview

Lindsay Lohan appears to be completely off the wagon now, if Kode magazine's chronicle of her trip to Coachella is any indication. According to the…

The Word

What we learned from the premiere of 'True…

Does watching someone's marriage implode make for great TV? The show runners at "True Tori" think Tori Spelling's heartbreak is hot stuff indeed.

NHL

Lundqvist, Rangers take control as Flyers falter in…

Rangers goalie Henrik Lundqvist turned away 31 Flyers shots to give the Blueshirts the series edge with a 4-1 victory Tuesday nigh

MLB

MLB Power Rankings: Brewers best in baseball, Dodgers,…

MLB Power Rankings: Brewers best in baseball, Dodgers, Cardinals, Yankees surge. The A's, Braves, Rangers, Giants and Rockies are also in the top 10.

MLB

Metro one-on-one: Q&A with Phillies centerfielder Ben Revere

Charlie Manuel used to say that the Phillies go as Jimmy Rollins goes. Well, Ryne Sandberg might have a new Phillies catalyst, Ben Revere, in his midst.

NBA

Breaking down the Sixers top draft options

With the NBA Playoffs now in full force, there’s only one thing on the mind of Sixers fans at the moment -- the 2014 NBA Draft Lottery.

Wellbeing

How to burn off all that Easter candy

Sorry to be a buzzkill, but you can't eat chocolate eggs and Jelly Bellys forever.

Food

Powdered alcohol: 5 things to know about 'Palcohol'

What's the deal with powdered alcohol? Here's what you need to know about Palcohol.

Travel

Travel hacks: 6 tips on living out of…

Lynne Martin shares her travel hacks on living out of just two suitcases.

Wellbeing

Tough Mudder pro gives tips on conquering a…

Learn hacks from head designer Nolan Kombol.