I can’t believe I said that. I can’t believe I did that. I can’t believe I let that happen. I can’t believe I did not see that coming. I can’t believe I got fooled again. I, I, I, I…
When I began pay close attention to such statements it became apparent to me there are two distinct “I’s” in every one of them. There is the one “doing” (the first “I”) and the one watching (the second “I”). Over time the realization came that these are two distinct elements of my consciousness each being represented by one of the “I’s”.
The first “I”, the doer, is the thinking part of me where ideas are formed into action in my brain through my thoughts. My ego lives here and has many facets and names by which it is known: personality, traits, individuality, persona, temperament, disposition, etc. My perception is this part of my consciousness resides in my head.
The second “I” is the feeling part of me where my actions are judged though my emotions and sentiments. My conscience lives here and has many facets and names that it is known by: instinct, gut, spirit, heart, intuition, character, soul, etc. My perception is this part of my consciousness resides in my chest.
Seeing my self this way had been a big help in sorting “me” out. My mind or the thinking part of me is always spinning and throwing things like a blender with the lid off. Constantly spinning and whizzing around my brain is spewing things out day and night. This is the more dominant part of my consciousness and actually a big bully that can abuse me into doing things that my feelings know I should not do. This thinking part of me is also a lair a times and will create whatever it needs to in order to have its way with me.
My heart or the feeling part of me mostly just tucks itself away quietly unless called upon to show emotions applicable. Rarely will I hear this soft voice of my conscience unless the intensity of the situation presses it to come forward or I intentionally rouse it and listen. Feeling is the more passive part of my consciousness and can be bullied away by my thoughts. Then I usually end up doing something deep down I know I should not do. This feeling part of me always tells the truth, but the voice is passive unless awakened. I have to be paying attention to hear it.
Thinking and feeling lie at opposite ends of the spectrum wrote Charles Gustafson, M.A., MFCC. Human Beings are capable of either thinking or feeling, but usually not at the same time. Many people tend to confuse the two processes. It is not uncommon to hear feelings couched as thoughts and thoughts presented as feelings. Although there are obvious exceptions, thoughts maybe seen as arising from the brain (above the neck) while feelings arise from the body (below the neck). A thought is something that one generates while a feeling is something one experiences. Thoughts are appraisals or opinions of what we perceive or experience. They act as explanations to help us understand our world. Not understanding what is happening around us leaves us feeling helpless, vulnerable and frustrated, which we find unpleasant. Understanding gives us a sense of competence or mastery that is comforting.
Gustafson goes on to say Emotions happen in response to thoughts or perceptions. If I think that I am a worthy person who is loved and valued, I will feel good about myself and the world I live in. If I think that I am unworthy and have nothing to offer others, I am apt to feel unhappy and hopeless and may become depressed. Although the process is largely automatic, our feelings follow our thoughts. The good news here is that we are, in fact, in charge of how we feel. As either a thought or a feeling becomes more intense, the other function fades.
Thus, when feeling anything intensely, it becomes difficult to think or concentrate concludes Gustafson. One can learn to notice when one is thinking and when one is feeling. Each is appropriate in different situations. Identifying our thoughts and feelings accurately is part of living a full and satisfying life.
To break down the line of thinking I began with: I (the thinking part of me) can’t believe I (the feeling part of me) did that. That manner of perception works for the way I want to live.
My brain never shuts down and long ago I learned I can not stop it… ever! What I can do is not pay so much attention to it. It is not always right and actually is often wrong. When I am able to shift my perception from my thinking to what I am feeling I usually find a more accurate view. Then it is not what I am “thinking” that matters most, but what I am “feeling” that I pay most attention to. When “think” is in conflict with “feel” going with the latter is not always correct, but more often than not it is. When the two are in harmony (what I think and what I feel) is when I know something is absolutely correct for me. I am grateful for this knowledge learned the yard way in the school of hard knocks called life.
My mind told me to give up, but my heart would not let me.