Where do feelings come from anyway? Here is a story to demonstrate:
One late afternoon, in New York, a man and his three children boarded the subway. The father sat down, put his elbows on his knees, his head in his hands, and closed his eyes. His children began to play tag. As they laughed and chased each other, they bumped into the other passengers and even stepped on people’s feet. Their father ignored all of it. The other passengers began to get annoyed. They believed the father should be responsible and control his children. Some passengers began to mumble under their breath.
Eventually, one woman angrily spoke up, “Sir, will you please do something about your children!” Everyone watched to see how the man would react.
The man’s eyes popped open and his head jerked up. He looked around and said, “Oh, I’m so sorry! I wasn’t paying attention. We just left the hospital where my wife, their mother, passed away. They are probably reacting to that.” Then he called his children to come sit quietly beside him.
At his words, some of the other passengers gasped. Their anger and frustration immediately drained away. Their faces softened. Some said, “I’m so sorry for your loss.” One woman even offered the children some cookies from her bag of groceries.
This story is a good illustration of the way feelings work and how they can change. Our feelings, like a fire, start with the FUEL…our attitudes and beliefs. In this example, the passengers had a belief that fathers should not allow children to bother the other passengers.
Next comes the match or the triggering EVENT. In this case it was the rowdy children, while the father ignored their behavior.
Finally come the FEELINGS. Because of their beliefs, the passengers initially felt angry. But their feelings changed when they got new information…the “back story” of the family’s situation. Your attitudes and beliefs can be changed through gathering information (a back story), and this will change your feelings. When you see things from a different view, it is called a paradigm shift.
This is a brief excerpt from my forthcoming book: Gorillas Make Great Lovers, which will launch on March 9th. This is from the chapter on Feelings.
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Image source: Tampa Bay Scene