Our thoughts and feelings function together, as part of the same system. They feed each other. The way we think impacts the way we feel and the way we feel also generates certain thinking styles.
When we experience challenges and hurdles in life we can fall prey to habitual thinking patterns that keep us stuck and really do not serve us. These thoughts are accompanied by particular feelings which can be unpleasant or painful.
When clients come to me with an issue they want to change, they, not always but often describe this in terms of either an unpleasant felt experience or else a thought driven process. So although thoughts and feelings bounce off each other, often we are more aware and more troubled by one than the other. This has also been very true of my own experience.
For a long time I’ve had a deep interest in the way feelings are made and experienced. I found myself absorbed by the question of what comes first- thoughts or feelings, and what that might mean for the way we understand them both.
A book called ‘How Emotions are Made’ by Lisa Feldman Barrett sheds a lot of light on this topic, I’ve read it several times and each time, understood a little more.
Feldman Barrett describes brilliantly how our thoughts and the concepts we use form an interplay with the physical feelings created in our bodies and what we end up with are our emotions- the good, the bad and the ugly.
When a client describes to me an issue in terms of unpleasant sensations that are tight or gripping or fluttering or heavy, then this is where we begin. When a client describes a predominant host of unwanted thoughts or critical internal voice, then that is where we begin.
We all experience life in a way that is unique and personal to us. Every client is different and the unravelling of every issue takes it’s own unique form.