Yesterday, I was listening to an interview with Dr. George Pransky in which he talked about relationships.
There’s a moment in the interview when he mentions that we don’t know how to get over bad feelings, that we have it all mixed up.
Dr. Pransky gives the example of someone who doesn’t feel happy in a relationship can start thinking: “If I wasn’t with this person, I’d feel so much better.” And that thought makes him feel better. However, he believes he feels better because of the content of the thought rather than the thought itself. In other words: because the thought made him feel good, he mistakenly assumes that being with another person will make him feel better. But it was the thought, and not being with another person, that made him feel better!
He could be with another person in the future and he may or may not be happier. Does that depend on the person he meets? No, it depends on the thoughts he has when he is with that person.
On the other hand, could he be happy if he stays with his current partner? Again, it depends on the thoughts he has when his current partner is around.
What the two questions above have in common is that both point to the outside: with whom will he feel better?
What I like about Dr. Pransky’s observation is that it reminds us that our feelings come from the inside, from our thoughts. They are the final cause.
If our circumstances change, our feelings may change or not, depending on our thoughts.
On the other hand, if our thoughts change, our feelings will change for sure.
So, next time I feel tempted to believe that a change in the circumstances around me will change how I feel, I hope I’ll remember this:
“It’s the thought, stupid!”
And then get back on track.