by: Skye Thomas
Are feelings and attitudes the
same thing or different? Does one cause the other to happen? Which one has more
power over how we respond? Does the person experiencing them have any choice in
the matter? What if they are in conflict?
Feelings are what they are. We
can’t force them. The phrase “I can’t help how I feel” keeps rattling around in
my head as I write this. There is no magical way to change how we feel. They
aren’t right or wrong, they just exist. Feelings are very powerful and
definitely have a control over how we make choices and how we move through
life. We will do almost anything to avoid feeling bad. Think about the money,
time, and focus we put into trying to feel good and avoiding feeling bad. That’s
not a bad thing, it’s the nature of feelings. It goes against human nature to
want to feel bad.
Feelings are based in emotions.
Emotions come from the heart. Therefore, I don’t think we can change them from
within our logical minds. If your favorite pet dies, then you feel sad. You
cannot be expected to simply stop feeling sad. You will feel some level of
sadness until you have finished feeling sad. It is possible to distract
yourself for awhile, but the feelings will just lay dormant until you allow them
time to fully run their course. There’s nothing wrong with wanting to distract
yourself from the bad feelings of missing your pet, but it will slow down the
process. There are constructive things you can do to aid the processing of your
feelings. Regardless of how you handle your feelings, you’re going to feel what
you feel until it works it’s way through your heart. You might always miss that
pet and feel a slight tug at your heart when you think back, but the
overwhelming sadness will eventually pass. It always does. That’s why they say
‘time heals all wounds.’ You can’t maintain any one feeling indefinitely.
Emotions by nature are shifting and uncontrollable. They simply are what they
What about our attitudes? An
entire multi-million dollar industry has been built around the power of a
positive attitude. The industry wouldn’t have survived and thrived as it has if
it wasn’t a valid and real concept. Our attitudes are rooted in our belief
systems. Our belief systems are chosen by our logical minds. Therefore, it is
possible to make a conscious decision to change it. Our minds have complete and
total control over what we believe. I don’t think I need to bore you with
another longwinded speech about the powers of a positive attitude. If you’ve
ever tried it, then you have proven for yourself that it is possible to make an
internal adjustment regarding your attitude.
So, which is stronger? Which has
more influence over our choices and behaviors? Does one overpower the other?
Let’s say that you find yourself falling madly head over heals in love with
someone. That’s a feeling, an emotion. It comes from your heart. However, at
the same time, you are entertaining a very pessimistic attitude towards love
and relationships in general. The attitude comes from your mind. Which will win
out, the feelings of falling in love or the dark attitude? It's hard to say. If
you change your attitude, then the feelings of being in love can grow and
perhaps become a wonderful source of joy for you. If you hold on tightly to your
attitude, then eventually it will wear on the loving feelings and you will
eventually stop loving that other person. What if the feelings of love were so
amazingly powerful, that they caused the attitude to change and your core
belief system about love and relationships changed too? Your feelings can
definitely have an effect on your attitude, but your attitude wins out more
Your attitude is not more
powerful because it’s more important than your feelings. It’s more powerful
because it’s more stubborn than your feelings. Let’s look again at our example
where the feelings are positive and the attitude is negative. We’ve seen people
fall madly in love with someone who loved them in return. These same people had
bad attitudes about love and relationships in general. Their feelings were not
able to overpower their attitude. They believe ‘it’s never going to work out
anyway’ and create a self-fulfilling prophecy. By not believing in love, they
destroy their good relationship and then feel hurt by the failed relationship.
Their minds take that as evidence to further continue with the negative
attitude regarding love. The same dynamic holds true regardless of topic. The
reason the attitude wins the battle more often then our feelings is because
feelings are ever-changing and flexible while attitudes are often locked into
place and become an unmovable force.
What if the feelings were bad
and the attitude was good? If you felt afraid that you might fail at your
goals, but you had a positive attitude and deep down you believed in yourself,
then you could choose to keep moving forward despite your feelings of fear.
Your attitude would win out over your feelings once again.
If your feelings and attitudes
match, then you have an inner balance and harmony within yourself. Isn’t this
the age-old battle between heart and head? Attitude comes from your head and
feelings come from your heart. When the two agree you are able to focus and
move forward with confidence. When the two are at war you have to decide which
is right… the heart’s feelings or the head’s attitude? Perhaps in sitting
quietly and looking inward at our feelings and attitudes from a detached
perspective, we can evaluate and chose for ourselves on a case-by-case basis
which one should lead us, our feelings or our attitudes.
Copyright 2003, Skye Thomas,
About The Author
Skye Thomas began writing
books and articles with an everyday practical approach to spirituality,
motivation, and inspiration in 1999 after twenty years of studying spirituality,
metaphysics, motivation, and parenting. More of her articles can be found at www.tomorrowsedge.net as well as free previews of her
NuPathz.com – Your affordable source for self improvement and self help books & materials
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