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Thoughts vs. Feelings...So Whats the Difference?

I often find myself in session asking someone how they are feeling and receive the following response, “I feel like I am not sure if…” What was the feeling there? Well there actually isn't one because this is a thought.

Unfortunately society speaks in thoughts and not feelings.

It is easy to confuse thoughts with feelings.

How do I know if I am sharing a thought or a feeling?

My general rule of thumb is if your sentence or explanation is longer than 3 words, yes 3 words, it is a thought.

Feelings are simply “I feel sad”. Anything beyond that is a thought.

What are my feelings?

Stick with the basics…Happy, Sad, Mad, Fear

You really don’t need more than this to get into a healthy practice of sharing your feelings. Keeping it simple at first can help alleviate any pressure to “get it right”.

What are my thoughts?

Thoughts are explanations. They expand on what you are thinking cerebrally, they can be an expansion of how you feel or a different topic all together.

“I feel like having salmon for dinner tonight” Ask yourself what feeling is in this statement. Go through the basics, happy, sad, mad and fear. If you can’t find it in the sentence it’s a thought.

Rewrite – “I am thinking of having salmon for dinner tonight. I feel happy and excited to enjoy my meal.”

Catching on?

Almost, I just need a couple more examples....

Of course that's no problem It took me some practice and observing to learn this as well. It was fun and I loved the results. People knew exactly what I needed and what I felt in the moment. There were no more misunderstandings!

I will let you in a little tool I use to help clarify this for me.

I Notice

I Think

I Feel

I Want

I Will

I love this tool and teach it to all of my clients because it helps differentiate between thoughts, feelings and observation. It also has the added bonus of what one is wanting from the conversation and what one is willing to do to have a healthy exchange.

An example of how to use this tool is:

"I notice that writing my first blog is causing some stress, I think its because I am new at this and unsure of expectations, I feel concerned and hopeful I will pull it off. I want for this to be enjoyable for my readers and am willing to receive feedback for improvement"

Phew...and there it is the Wheel of Mindfulness in action!


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