9/27 Our Thinking Influences the way we Feel

Just as a quick review – We have been tracing the pattern of: Heart —– > Thinking patterns —- > Emotions = Behaviour.  In this post, we will continue with how our thinking influences our emotions.

There are two elements of ‘renewing the mind’ that affect how we feel:

1.  Our ATTITUDE about event often is more important than event

It is not what happened to you in the past that is causing the pain today; it is what you think about the past that is causing discomfort.  The past is gone and cannot hurt us anymore.

2.  Then our feelings about the event are CAUSED by attitudes

Our attitude about an event or person will determine our feelings towards that event or person.  Let us illustrate this with an example of Joe visiting Martha:

Trigger Event  —- > Attitude —- > Emotion

Here is an example:

a.  Joe is late      “My day is ruined.”  —– >   anger

b.  Joe is late      “I can do other things now.”            —- >    gratitude

See the difference in the emotion is determined by what we believe …. not necessarily by Joe’s behaviour.

A few comments about this illustration:

1.  ‘Catastrophic’ attitudes cause negative feelings.

In the example above, the exaggerated value given by Martha to Joe being on time is called “catastrophic thinking”.  Other negative self-talk are: “my world will end”,  “I will never get over this”,  “I am going to have a really bad day”. – If I think negatively, I will feel negatively.

We will cover this common issue in a later post.

2.  We have NO control over other people’s Behaviour.

We have no control over whether somebody is on time to an appointment.  They can be having car trouble, the baby made a mess, they forgot.  There is nothing more frustrating than trying to control the uncontrollable, so it is best to ‘set them free’ to be late.

However you can set healthy boundaries with Joe.  “I’m getting tired of waiting for you when you are late.  So, I’ll be doing my iphone or reading a book instead of waiting for you.”

3.  We have no control over our EMOTIONS

In our example, Martha has no choice over whether she is angry or not, only when and how to deal with her feelings, Ephesians 4:26.  She has control over her angry behaviour, but not over her internal feelings.  The only way we can change our feeling —- > is to change our thinking about the events AND work on our heart attitude about the event.

Feeling ‘just happen’! We can’t chose what we will feel or not feel.  Emotions are really neutral.  It’s what we do with them that make emotions a problem.

An example of the spider:  If I walked into a room of people and opened my hand to show them a spider, what would they do?  Most people would shrink away, run out the door, yell at me, etc.  Maybe a few would say “I’ve never seen a green spider before” and look with curiosity at my spider.  WHAT MAKES THE DIFFERENCE?  Same spider, same situation, same people but some react differently!

I had a grandmother who took me into the garden with her.  She would say to me as a 56 year old, “Some spiders are good for the garden.”  Am I now afraid of spiders…not so much.  (….maybe except for the Huntsman spiders here in Australia when they appear unexpectedly.)

4.  We DO have control over our attitudes

The only place we can change the outcome of this example is in the change of attitude.  Notice that when Martha decided to make her time useful while she waited, she was glad to get the dishes washed.

God is looking at how we respond to others, more than changing our circumstances.  The problem was not that Joe was late, it was Martha’s attitude towards him.  By catching the self-talk that sparks the emotion, we can learn to ‘substitute’ the right thinking patterns.  This will then change the emotional response that will then change the behaviour.

As you can see, our behaviour depends on our emotions.  Our emotions depend on our thinking patterns about events …. but where does it all start?

Heart —– > Thinking patterns —- > Emotions = Behaviour

The Heart is the centre of our being, the ‘wellspring’ of all our thinking, believing, feeling and reacting.  It’s to the Heart we need to keep heading.  It’s far better to do this than to suppress the emotions, ignore the reactions and keep accepting the heart lies as truth.

So let’s continue looking at the Heart in this series.  In our next post, we will see how there are ways to bring order and health to our heart and its way of thinking about things.

Susanne Fengler, Blog Author 

PS.  Remember for more information on the Heart and how it relates to our whole personality, go over to

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