Tuesday, January 17, 2012


One sign of an emotionally healthy individual is that they respect the power of human emotion. Most people are acutely aware of their thoughts. Many are unaware of the root cause of those thoughts. In most instances, thinking comes from feeling. We think because we feel. Our feelings form the basis for our thoughts. The more we are aware of the emotional root cause of our thoughts, the better we understand ourselves and our behavior.

Here is an example of how we can get lost in our thinking and end up in a state of depression. A child who is raised with little nurturing or attention will reach their own conclusions about life without the aid of an adult's perspective. Children are egocentric and believe they are the cause of all the life events around them. If mom or dad is unhappy, then the child wonders what they did to cause that reaction. If a parent does not reassure them that it has nothing to do with them, the child will walk away damaged from that event. If this occurs on a regular basis, the child will learn to blame themselves for everything that goes on. In the absence of an alternative explanation, they will internalize the fault and blame.

A child raised with neglect will grow into an adult who has little trust in themselves and blames themselves for everything. The self-blame will take the form of character attacks on themselves. They will describe themselves as weak, lazy or unmotivated, all character traits that explain why they do what they do. They will try to fight the thoughts of being lazy or weak with motivational self-talk that starts a battle of thoughts within their own mind. When they don't win the battle to try to believe in themselves, they become unable to function well and use this inaction to support the idea that it was their fault in the first place. This process becomes a prescription for the hopelessness and helplessness that we call depression.

The missing ingredient in this mental battle of thoughts is the fear that is the root cause of the original doubt. The fear is based on the pattern of childhood failures to please or succeed that is only understood as evidence of stupidity or inadequacy. The fear is based on a misunderstanding of the failures and has no truth in it. It is an irrational fear that was never reduced through the reassurances of an attentive parent. The adult who does not see the fear or who believes the fear will engage in the mental battle of thoughts and never look for the root cause. Even as adults, they will blame themselves for any failure despite all attempts to overcome their problems. They will never face the fear that runs their life and learn to ignore it's representation in thinking and acting.

The solution is to understand emotions as the root cause of all thinking and acting. A person cannot fight emotion with thinking. You can't think your way out of your feelings. You will only end up kidding yourself. When you can identify the root cause, you can learn which emotions to trust and which emotions to ignore (see prior blog on Family vs Natural Self). When you can learn to doubt your doubts, you will learn to trust the emotions that represent the truth and feel more in control of yourself and your life.