There has been considerable debate on what comes first in response to any stimulus, thought or emotion? Some argue that how you feel dictates how you think. If I am sad then this emotion will cater to more somber memories and thoughts, and vice versa if I am happy. Others argue that if you choose to think certain thoughts, you can change your emotions from whatever they are to what you want/need them to be for any given situation. I wonder if we have been debating a moot point. Feelings or emotions are labels we have been using to describe what thoughts are being narrated by the brain. New neuroscience is strongly suggesting that emotions and thoughts are in fact the same, neurologically. How we feel can only be described by thought. If you have labeled an emotion you are feeling as sad, then you are in fact using thought to come up with the ‘sad’ label. Your thoughts, neuropathways, are dependent on stored memories, not on objective labels, to make those labels. What is sad to one person might be just mundane to one and traumatic to another. I presented this argument in my first book in 1995, Clearing Your Path
, coining the ‘Theory of Emotional Relativity’ concept. Why is it important to re-examine our labels and emotional language? Because the center of out labeling machine, our brain, is an inherently biased and flawed organ. It uses only experiences stored in it, not objective rationale, to label.
Stating the obvious, labels and language provide us with the necessary code for comprehension of just about everything. Language has evolved as our evolution and maturation has. Every year dozens of new words are added to both a formal dictionary and our colloquial vernacular. In college, I never “googled” anything nor as I kid did I “binge watch” any show, for example. I’ve been writing for well over a decade now on Emotions, Emotional Intelligence (EQ) and Neuroscience. Our understanding of these has dramatically improved in the last ten years alone, more so arguably than previous centuries combined. We know now that our human body is over 90% fluid, filled with all kinds of chemicals whose total composition is dictated in large part by instant reactions to constantly-changing stimuli from key glands in our body. A certain combination of chemicals (hormones) forces our neurothpathways (thought pattern) to go a certain direction to decipher the stimuli and other combinations go to different places for the same reason. We have been using a bronze-age language to describe these feelings, such as anger, sad, happy, glad, frustrated, joyful, excited, bored, etc. These labels were at best honorable attempts to makes sense of what our glands and thoughts were doing and provided our ancestors with comprehension for decoding visible human behavior. But make no mistake, these are outdated and even inaccurate labels. It is time to learn a new language.