Social Question

Shippy's avatar

How much does your thinking actually effect how you feel?

Asked by Shippy (9873points) December 15th, 2012

Lately I have become very aware of how my thinking effects physiological changes in my body. Like a racing heart, or just a washed out feeling. Which can later result in tiredness.

Surely then conversely this can work in the positive too?

So on that score, how does your thinking manifest in your day to day life. Are you aware that it can create a better physiology? And subsequently a better day in all? Some people seemed to have a mastered expertise in thinking, while others, such as I have to keep a strict reign on my own mind. Has your thinking at times destroyed your life? Any sharing appreciated.

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22 Answers

hearkat's avatar

There were times when I shut down my emotion and intellectualized everything; then I went through a phase when I allowed my emotions to control me; now I work to keep a balance: I use my emotions as a guide which indicates that the apparent logical choice might or might not be the best choice for me.

Biofeedback proved that we can have some control over our physiology. Through observations I’ve made in life, people who are prone to anxiety can over-think themselves into a frenzy which releases a lot of stress hormones and then the body becomes conditioned to react that way and the fuse gets shorter and shorter over time.

TheProfoundPorcupine's avatar

If something happens that knocks me back mentally, then I do feel sluggish and that my energy has completely gone and I know it used to hit me for a long time so I am with you on feeling washed out and things like that.

Now I try to think of minor victories even when something has gone wrong, so I try to get some kind of positive out of a negative and then try to feed off that although at times it can be difficult. A positive can be….you tried whereas before you would not have even done that so well done.

Shippy's avatar

@hearkat I can identify so much the thinking frenzy plus the conditioning. I reckon that perseverance and changed thoughts would help? Meaning, realistically one would think a thought as it seems unstoppable, then swap it for another thought immediately? @TheProfoundPorcupine It sounds as though you have a firm grip on your thinking? I was also considering in the question though, how it can create a reality. For e.g. I am shy, I am unlovable therefore I suffer social anxiety? Or conversely I am worthy, I deserve only the best from every one I meet creating narcissism for example. Extreme examples I know. But very real I’d imagine.

TheProfoundPorcupine's avatar

@Shippy I wouldn’t say I have a firm grip on my thinking as I still have various areas where it is a problem, but I guess a starting point is knowing that there is a problem in a certain area.

It can create a reality as I have had big problems with social anxiety through negative thinking about people (leading to trust issues and all sorts) whereby I have allowed the minority to make it harder for me to like the majority and I have thought long and hard about how to break down those barriers and I know how I have reacted in a physical sense in different situations. I have felt changes in breathing, nerves, sweating, all kinds of things and it is from my thoughts.

dabbler's avatar

Thinking has a very powerful influence on emotion. I’m including in ‘thinking’ anything you can imagine, not just hard logic/rationality.
You can think yourself into depression.
You can think yourself into arousal (OMG did you see what < > is wearing?!? drool drool).
You can think yourself into peace of mind and body.

Shippy's avatar

@dabbler It’s such a nice thought that You can think yourself into peace of mind and body.

Coloma's avatar

Tremendously! I had a really negative few days last week, I have been sick for a few weeks and very stressed about my finances, with a rash of things breaking all in a row and boatloads of cash flying out the door.
Very unusual for me as I am normally of an optimistic and “can do” attitude. I am pretty self aware and yes, I noticed an undercurrent of anxiety and an overall, “hum” of anxiety.
Like an electric current running through my being.

It’s been forever since I have felt rather negative and depressed so it is very noticeable.

Shippy's avatar

@Coloma I can certainly say I know that feeling. We often underestimate ourselves, in you I see a great deal of inner resources and determination. Pity we cannot often or always see that in ourselves. So with that thought, with me, I am looking forward to making good income from doing things I love. (For a change). Suffering in Corporate Finance for 15 years did nothing for my spirit. We will get through this!

hearkat's avatar

Again, this is just my observations and conclusions… If the anxious thinking is allowed to persist, a person can eventually get to the point where the biological response becomes automatic – which is my theory of panic attacks, and what I meant by the fuse between the spark of thought and the autonomic reaction getting progressively shorter.

Mindfulness is helpful in training oneself to act more deliberately when going through their daily activities. Meditation can also help a person improve their ability to quiet the mind and calm the body. These techniques take a long time to learn, and they need to be practiced regularly to develop and maintain effectiveness.

Coloma's avatar

@Shippy Yay for you! Yeah, sometimes….sometimes…:-/

blueiiznh's avatar

For me it is tightly bound to how my day is and how I proceed through it. I stay away from negative people and negative energy. To me it has no value and if you allow yourself to be caught up in it, it certainly can and will render itself in a negative inward feeling.
I try to approach everything with a positive and full of life energy. These things do tend to have momentum. They carry from one thing to the next. The positive approach allows me to more easily work through things and build on that energy.
It is a great ride and high.

poisonedantidote's avatar

I am my thoughts, 100%

I used to be a very emotionless person, I always admired Spock from Star Trek, and I always found my self worried when watching shows about psychopathic serial killers, cause I could always relate to the lack of emotions.

Emotions are kind of a new thing for me. From ages 0 to 5 I felt nothing, I just was. I just witnessed, and thought without emotion. From ages 5 to 10, I was capable of some times feeling anger or frustration, but that is about it.

From ages 10 to 20, I felt nothing but occasional anger, frustration, or perhaps mild excitement/happiness, as well as an emotionless form of depression.

From ages 20 to 24 or so, my emotions became more and more varied, until I finally got to a point where I could experience all emotions. For the past 5 years or so, I have been more or less fully functional in the emotions department.

I also used to be a very introverted person, right up to the age of about 25 or 26, and would hardly talk to others.

I think because of this, I have the understanding of thoughts controlling emotions that I have.

I find I am capable of reasoning, thinking, and some times hyping or depressing myself in to any mood or emotional state that I like. The two are totally linked up, to the point that I can even ignore certain degrees of physical pain.

I think for me, in my case, I have a brain that is lead by thought first, and emotions second, and because of this I can control it.

If I am happy, I can start dwelling on things that piss me off, until I can produce real anger.

If I am angry, say having an argument with my girlfriend, I can use thought alone to remind my self of what is important, and turn my feelings in a positive direction.

I can get over depression just by deciding I’m not depressed anymore, and likewise can use thoughts to depress myself intentionally, for example if I want to spend a couple of days sleeping, I can just depress myself in to a kind of hibernating rut.

Some things I can’t control with thought alone, usually anything instinctive. For example fear is very hard to control or stop with thought alone, if anything it usually just makes it worse.

That is about all that comes to mind for now.

JLeslie's avatar

How we think is huge, we are our thoughts. @hearkat already mentioned biofeedback, which is what came to mind also.

In my experience we can undo to some extent the vicious cycle in our brains that can create depression and anxiety. Science has shown we can lay new neuropathways, we continue to learn, our brains are not all set by age three like some have said. This is not to dismiss those who have seriously mental illness, I am not saying they should or can just get over it, I am just talking about the average mind and the ups and downs we go through in life.

In my own life I went through a very anxious time, lasted about 8 years, constant low-moderate level of anxiety, it was horrible. I like to think that would not happen to me again, I feel like I understand better how my thoughts and how I coped affected my anxiety level. I did go through one time of accute anxiety, I don’t have confidence I could stave that off if something devastating happened to me. A big loss of any sort; bad injury, loss of a loved one, terminal illness; I think my mind would be out of control and quite honestly I would take medication temporarily probably to calm it down so I could function. I hate taking meds of any sort, but accute trauma is so abusive to my physical body, not just my mental state. What I know now though, is that I would get passed it, I could handle it better. Just those thoughts of knowing it will be better would be helpful, I didn’t know that when I was young, did not really believe it.

Shippy's avatar

@JLeslie I’ve been reigning in my thoughts all day. It’s hard work. But I am determined. I didnt even think of biofeedback. So even more interesting how Positive Thinking can really change ones life.

gailcalled's avatar

I don’t think that reining in one’s thoughts is necessary, or, for that matter, possible. We all think; we all feel; it is hard to unbraid them.

The issue may be in learning the tricks of tamping down anxiety or worry.

The traditional modalities of various forms of therapy, hypnotherapy, acupuncture, tai chi -chi gong, exercise, mind-body work (see Dr. Jon Kabat Zinn)

I own and regularly have used the series #1 CDs of Kabat Zinn. for mindfulness stress reduction.

Having tried all these things, I find the most useful is the knowledge that all the worrying I used to do in the past has changed nothing. The second most useful skill is being able to say “no” when I need to.

flutherother's avatar

You can overthink things and worry yourself into a state of paralysis where you don’t function efficiently, like a centipede that thinks so hard about moving its legs that it can’t walk. I used to be a bit like that and I would so worry over what to say that I would keep quiet and then worry about my silence.

I envied those who didn’t think useless thoughts but acted in a natural and spontaneous way. Like dancers whose movements are not dictated by their thoughts so much as by the music. But if you have been laughed at for your dancing then you become self conscious and awkward.

gailcalled's avatar

@flutherother: No one can eliminate non-productice or unhelpful thoughts. The trick is to notice them and then encourage them to take the A train, far far away.

Plenty of clumsy dancers still dance happily. Again, the trick is to condition your response.

JLeslie's avatar

@shippy, You have been through a tremendous amount at once. For me I would probably be more in that accute type mental state, at least for a few weeks. I think it is like there is a difference between accute sadness and intense depression. Both happen at once often. But, the sadness, mourning, we need to go through the stages usually.

Blondesjon's avatar

What @gailcalled said minus the I don’t think that reining in one’s thoughts is necessary, or, for that matter, possible. We all think; we all feel; it is hard to unbraid them. part.

It is hard to unvelcro them.

gailcalled's avatar

Edit once again for spell-check…“non-productive”

dabbler's avatar

@gailcalled “non-productice or unhelpful thoughts. The trick is to notice them and then encourage them to take the A train” Good point.
Classical meditation practice trains one to simply witness the thoughts without reaction.
You’ll allow them to be in the mind, and let them leave, without giving them any unnecessary attention. This allows one to break the instinctual connection to creating emotion, and taking action, based on incomplete thoughts.

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