Most people think that their thoughts arise from external events and circumstances. Here are examples of how most of us talk about events, as though the event itself is the cause of our feelings:
- “The traffic jam made me angry.”
- “My cancelled flight really frustrated me.”
- “You make me upset when you don’t do your homework.”
- “The beach makes me feel calm and happy.”
Speaking in this way makes it appear that thoughts and feelings originate from outside yourself, and that external events have the power to stimulate your emotions. That could not be further from the truth.
If you believe your thinking and emotions originate from external circumstances, it’s natural that your focus and energy will go to changing the circumstances. That is why it is so easy to get stuck in the Dreaded Drama Triangle (DDT), using all sorts of reactive habits to change or fix external events that you assume are the cause of your discomfort.
But that simply is not how your mind works. Without an appreciation of how your mind works, you will waste energy ruminating about how to change events or other people that you have no control over.
There’s only one way that your mind really works: from the inside-out. It doesn’t look that way because your thinking makes it look outside-in. The only way to change your thinking and emotions is to change your awareness—that you are the source and of your own thoughts and that you have the power to influence them.
Understanding how your thoughts and feelings are generated from within your own mind is one of the most valuable insights you will ever have. Likewise, even if you understand that outside circumstances are not the cause of your thoughts and emotions, it’s easy to forget when under pressure or feeling pain. And yes, there are times when you feel like a Victim to the delayed flight and blame outside circumstances for how you feel. When frustrated by life’s events, it stands to reason that you would try to resist or control them.
When you shift your focus away from external circumstances, and keep the power within yourself to choose your response to life’s challenges, your creative mind naturally emerges. With this new ease, your mind becomes like a nonstick Teflon surface that that does not get triggered and caught up in unnecessary thinking about outside events. It becomes more curious and able to notice what is going on without trying to fix others or situations that you can’t change.
As you do this, your language begins to shift. Challenging events still happen, but now you keep the responsibility for your thoughts and emotions within yourself:
- “I feel angry when I sit in a traffic jam.”
- “I feel frustrated when my flight is delayed.”
- “I experience frustration when you don’t finish your homework.”
- “I feel calm and serene when walking on the beach.”
Hear the difference? You have taken your power back by owning your emotional response. Life still happens and sadness, frustration, and anger are still a part of your life. But the responsibility for these thoughts and emotions remain with you!
When you understand how your mind works, you know that outside circumstances do not dictate how you feel, and this insight gives you immense psychological freedom. Even more important, outside events don’t rob you of your power. You keep the power within yourself and your ability to choose and are no longer a Victim to outside events. This is the all-important shift from Victim to Creator.
And that, is how your mind really works!