Exploring The Connection Between Thoughts And Feelings

This post was developed via a partnership with BetterHelp.

From a young age, many people learn skills like self-care, emotional regulation, problem-solving, effective communication, and critical thinking. However, one skill that parents may not teach their kids is how to analyze and understand the impact of their thoughts on their feelings and behaviors. Parents may not even be aware of the connection between thoughts and feelings, making it difficult for them to explain the concept to their children.

Exploring The Connection Between Thoughts And Feelings

When people come to understand how their thoughts affect their feelings, they can develop greater self-awareness and self-control while developing their ability to express themselves in healthier, more constructive ways. Keep reading to learn more about the link between thoughts and feelings and how knowing this information can benefit you and your life.  

How Are Thoughts And Feelings Connected?

A helpful analogy to understand the connection between thoughts and feelings is to view your thoughts as being in the driver’s seat of a car, taking your feelings along for the ride. In essence, it’s your thoughts that determine how you feel, which then affects how you respond. 

If your thoughts are giving you negative messages about a person or situation, you’re likely to feel badly in response. You may act on these feelings by saying something hurtful or doing something impulsive. 

Given that your thoughts influence your feelings, behaviors, and choices, it’s vital to learn how to exercise control over your thought patterns. Developing self-awareness is key in this process, as you must understand what you’re thinking before you can change how you’re thinking. 

Changing your thoughts might involve making peace with memories from your past, working through traumatic experiences, or having conversations with certain people to find closure. Once you begin noticing trends in how you think and feel, you can start making changes as needed to feel happier and healthier. 

Choosing Healthier Thoughts And Feelings

If you tend to view life or yourself through a negative lens or feel as if your emotions dictate how you live, it could be useful to learn how to choose healthier thoughts so that you can experience more positive feelings and gain control over your emotions. Below are some tips that may help you grow in this area: 

  • Develop self-awareness: One of the most critical first steps you take on the journey to healthier thoughts and feelings is growing in self-awareness. Without self-awareness, it can be difficult to identify how your feelings are being influenced by your thoughts, which may cause you to be stagnant in making any necessary changes. If you are regularly thinking negatively, this is something you’ll want to be aware of so that you can begin to adopt new habits.
  • Consider therapy: Therapeutic approaches like cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT) and rational emotive behavior therapy (REBT) can help teach you how to identify your negative thoughts and replace them with healthier, more productive patterns of thinking. Changing these habits can help you embrace more rational beliefs, allowing you to manage your emotions more effectively and feel more positive about life. BetterHelp offers online therapy with providers skilled in techniques like REBT, which you can read more about here: https://www.betterhelp.com/advice/therapy/how-rational-emotive-behavior-therapy-can-help-you/
  • Surround yourself with uplifting people: The people you’re around regularly can have a major impact on your mental well-being, as they often influence how you think and feel about yourself, the world, certain topics and situations, and other people. It’s important to choose relationships that are encouraging instead of those that tear you down or cause you to look at the obstacles in your way instead of the opportunities in front of you. 
  • Find a hobby: Hobbies can fill you with a sense of motivation and purpose while giving you an outlet for emotions like anger, sadness, and anxiety. It may be easier to change your thinking patterns if you’re in a happy mood and feel positive about yourself and your capabilities. 

By putting yourself in encouraging situations, eliminating negative influences in your life, and growing in self-awareness, you can set yourself up for success as you seek to adopt healthier thought patterns. 

Making The Most Of The Thinking-Feeling Link

Those who are aware of the link between their thoughts and feelings may be at an advantage, as they understand that their emotional state is largely tied to how they think about people, situations, and life in general. Once you understand that your thoughts have a significant influence over your feelings, you can begin to take steps to think differently and change how you feel. 

Taking the time to practice self-awareness, consciously shift your perspective, and challenge your negative thoughts can promote greater resilience, well-being, and quality of life. While this is often easier said than done, with time and consistency, it is possible to adopt more constructive thinking patterns and approach life with greater self-assurance.