In the beginning

At first there is a feeling. Before there is a thought there is a feeling about that thought. In this way that your feelings precede your thought it is a nice skill to have to understand what a feeling is why we have them.

So why do we have feelings? and where do they come from?

Feelings come from the body. My heart rate increases, I begin to sweat, my breathing quickens, pupils dilate, and my mouth is dry. This sounds like a stress response because it is. Before you can make sense of the monster lurking in the dark, your body has already reacted. At the same time our thoughts can cause a similar effect by imagining the similar scenario. This ability of the mind to create false realities is powerful.

There are many reasons why we feel just like there are many things we have feelings about. From feelings come emotions and these emotions are precisely why I wish to write this post. Emotions are ambiguous, emotions are messy, emotions are irrational yet they are highly relevant when making a decision. If emotions were not involved in the decision making process then you would be a robot, for better or worst.

As I continue to write, I can feel my heart rate and breathing change and my thoughts race to make sense of this change. I know that there are underlying physiological processes that drive my anxiety, primarily the HPA axis (hypothalamus -> pituitary -> adrenal axis) that has been enhanced with a fair bit of caffeine.

The message I want to leave you with is this. Listen to your body while they are still feelings. When a feeling becomes an emotion and thus given a label it is stable and difficult to change. Build your awareness, don’t judge but be curious, by letting go of your thoughts. The important stuff always sticks but it is not your job to determine what is important and what is not, simply be present and take action.

Have a great day!

-Nick Shaffer