“We are feeling creatures that think vs. thinking creatures that feel.” —Jill Bolte Taylor
Dr. Taylor’s statement is so important to our understanding of how life works, especially in a time when so many self-help gurus claim that your thinking creates your life. “You create by thinking” is one of the misconceptions that I constantly remind my clients isn’t true.
Here’s why I know that. First of all, your thinking brain doesn’t even begin to operate until you are 2 1/2 years old. Before that, your brain is a sensory sponge, absorbing how everyone around you feels. Your brain’s job in this absorbing period is to put into place your sense of self, how you feel about being human. Your brain does this by using the feeling it absorbs to expand the kernel of energy that you began in the womb with, which I refer to as your natural well-being.
Your natural well-being is all about feeling good, and your brain’s sensory sponge time from conception until age 2 1/2 was meant to just expand that—to make more of you feeling good about being you, just as you are. However, because the people around you feel bad sometimes, you absorb the sense that there is something wrong being human. And, it becomes personal: “There’s something wrong with me being human.” I call this feeling Learned Distress. Because sponges have no choice in what they absorb and because your thinking brain hadn’t yet begun to operate, you were unable to process and throw out any of this negative feeling, so it became embedded in your sense of self.
When you reach the age of 2 1/2, your sense of self becomes the generating force in your life. Per Newton’s Third Law, “for every action there is an equal and opposite reaction,” your sense of self uses the feeling it absorbed (the action) to create each moment of your life. This outward flow of energy that you live your life with is the opposite part of “equal and opposite reaction.” Your life’s moments are generated in a way that feels the same (equal) to what you absorbed.
So, the automatic work of energy means that your brain just keeps generating moments that feel the same as you did when your brain was a sensory sponge, before you were 2 1/2 years old. And therefore, your life becomes a mixture of what feels good (your natural well-being) and what feels bad or difficult to make good (your Learned Distress).
But what about the times you have worried about something and then it happened in just the way you were afraid it would? Well, your sense of self generates your thoughts, just as it generates the events of your life. So, it may seem like your thoughts and your events match up so well that your thinking must be creating these moments. However, that’s just because they have a common source, your sense of self.
If the Law of Attraction or positive thinking have worked well for you, maybe you think I’m wrong. Changing your thinking can work for some people, but it is a mechanism for either controlling or leaping over Learned Distress to get something done. My clients who have seen some success with it usually come to me when it stops working for them. They’ve said things like, “I used to be able to manifest anything, but I just can’t, anymore,” or, “Everything that has worked for me in the past just stopped working, no matter how hard I try.” Learned Distress actually rises in intensity over time, so at some point, it gets to be too big to control or leap over, and the “change your thinking” method stops working.
What does work, in my experience and that of my clients, is removing layers of Learned Distress, which triggers natural well-being to expand and take its rightful place. Well-being becomes the generating force behind more and more moments, and just like the negative moments used to happen without making any special effort, the good moments begin to happen effortlessly. Clients start to say things like, “Wow, I can’t believe how easily that happened. I’ve been trying for years to accomplish it, but I hardly even noticed, because I didn’t have to put any effort into it.”
Have you ever been frustrated that changing your thinking hasn’t worked or has become more difficult? I hope you’ll share your experiences in the comments below.