I used to get angry.

I’m not talking about getting cross; I’m talking about a red mist. The whole nine yards.

But I never get that angry anymore.

It isn’t that my life has changed so much that robins come in through the window to fold my laundry, and there are reasons I could get angry, but I get mildly irritated at best.

How come?

Everything changed when I asked myself, ‘where do I think this feeling comes from?’

My Feeling isn’t Coming from My Past
We’re often encouraged to trawl back into the past to discover why we feel something in the present, but how do we know how we felt in the past?

When you think about the past, it feels as if you’re experiencing what happened at that time, but you can only experience the past via thought at this moment; you’re viewing the past event through your current reality goggles, which is why memory is unreliable.

I once worked with an addict who had previously been told by well-meaning counsellors to go back to when he’d been put in care aged 3 to see what feelings might have caused his subsequent addiction.

But this guy could only say how he thinks now, at this moment, how he imagines he felt when he was three.
This means that you may not feel, at this moment, the same feeling that you had when the past event happened, but you imagine you are because of your thought at this moment.

My Feeling isn’t Coming from Someone Else
How often do you think you feel a certain way because of someone else?

You might feel upset because someone has hurt you.

Or you might feel love when you think of a partner or child.

But your feeling is never coming from anyone else. It’s impossible. Your feeling can only come from your thoughts about someone else.

If you believe that your feeling comes from someone else, you’re a victim to their moods, but when you see that you experience what you think rather than what they say or do, you’re free to have new thought and feelings.

If I feel upset with my partner and jump on the thought, train about what he didn’t or should do, asking myself where I think the feeling comes from creates a shift.

It doesn’t mean that I’m not upset anymore, but I have to admit that the feeling isn’t coming from him, which means I can continue to be upset or leave the feeling alone.

My feeling isn’t Coming from Outside
We’re conditioned from an early age to believe that our feeling comes from things outside us; we attribute feelings to things, people and places.

As a child, you may have been asked, ‘are you excited that it’s nearly Christmas?’, ‘are you happy to get a new baby brother or sister?’ or, ‘don’t be upset that your toy broke’, ‘don’t be sad that you can’t go out to play because it’s raining’ and on and on.

So it makes sense that you feel that your feelings come from outside.

But this is never the case.

If you think sunny days make you happy, you’d always feel happy when the sun shines, and I bet that isn’t the case.
If you think walking on the beach clears your head, this only happens when you don’t take what is inside your head with you.

If you think you’re feeling low because you hate your job, is this the case every day?

You might become aware of feeling anxious or worried and attribute the feeling to wherever you are.

Maybe you’re in a tube train, and you start to worry that the feeling is coming from the tube, and attributing the feeling to the place makes it worse because you can’t get out, and before you realise it, you might have a panic attack.

And never use the tube again.

I have a client who experienced anxiety in a supermarket and, for years, believed that this was where her feeling came from, so she never went into a supermarket.

Or you might be sitting at home when an anxious feeling arises.

So you start to think about your life, money situation, relationship, job or whatever comes to mind, and it makes sense that your feeling comes from whatever you attribute the worry to.

But, again, can you see that the feeling can’t come from your job if you’re sitting at home, but it comes from your thinking about your job?

Your Feeling Comes from Thought at the Moment
Recognising that you’re constantly experiencing whatever you’re thinking at the moment allows you not to make too much of the feeling you’re in.

The feeling may be uncomfortable or heartbreaking in this second, but knowing that when you allow fresh thoughts to pop up, the feeling will shift brings you hope.

Yes, you might feel crappy right now, but you know that you’ll feel differently in a minute, hour, or day.

You don’t always see feelings coming to you via thought because thought is so fleeting. In a nanosecond, the thought has come into form and disappeared, so whilst you aren’t aware of the thought, you might be aware of the shadow of the feeling that arose from the thought.

Then it seems perfectly natural to look around at your circumstances to make sense of the feeling and what might have caused it.

But the capacity to experience new thoughts means that you know that you aren’t going to feel like this forever.
Another benefit of realising you’re experiencing your thought at the moment is that if an old thought comes crashing in from nowhere and winds you, you don’t have to imagine that you’ve regressed or you’re back to square one or whatever else you might have believed in the past.

You know this is just a thought, and another thought will be along before you realise.

When I started asking myself where I thought my anger came from, I was forced to see that the feeling came from me. Not from someone else. Not from something else. But from me and my thoughts about what was happening.
Pausing to ask myself this question changed my life, and it can change yours too.