Misguided Thoughts that Stir Emotions

Misguided Thoughts. Powerful Emotions. Psychology Fanatic article header image.

Understanding the pitfalls of thinking improves well-being. Giving thoughts too much power creates vulnerability to the unpredictableness of a wandering mind. Thoughts aren’t material (in the normal sense); they are products of the mind, pulling memories from the past, mulling over problems in the future, giving meaning to the meaningless. We must think. It’s our golden heritage. But unsubstantiated misguided thoughts drown experience with fluff, create heartache, stir anxiety, and motivate fruitless endeavors. We must scrupulously examine these little demons for reasonableness, dismiss the misguided thoughts, examine others, and act on a few.

​​Unbiased observation of thought proves difficult for most; but emotional separation from thoughts allows for greater objectivity. When thoughts lose emotional power, we gain peace. Unbiased observation is the ideal but not always possible or practical; However, we can achieve some separation by skeptically examining the thoughts for accuracy, adding clarity, and deepening insights. From personal observation, we self-soothe and increase ​Emotional Regulation.

Unbiased observation is the ideal, but not always possible or practical; however, we can achieve some separation by skeptically examining the thoughts for accuracy, adding clarity, and deepening insights.

~T. Franklin Murphy

Emotions, Misguided Thoughts, and Behaviors

Our emotions, thoughts, and behaviors are interrelated. Each impacting the functioning of the other. When misguided thoughts reign, so do maladaptive behaviors and dysregulated emotions. Change begins by addressing any one of the three. by Michael E. Thase M.D. and Susan S. Lang wrote that, “every thought, emotion, and behavior affects the brain’s biochemistry, which in turn can influence your thoughts, feelings, and behaviors” (2004).

Thoughts, Behaviors, and Emotions
Thoughts, Behaviors, and Emotions

Emotional Regulation

When flooded by emotionsrational thought suspends, and we revert to habitual patterns. Our heightened emotional state later draws support from misguided thoughts to excuse the poor behavior. This adaptive process prepares an organism for threats without the delay of slower rational analysis. But this adaptation also has hazards; an emotionally flooded mind may act without consideration of long-term objectives. While intoxicated with emotions, we strike with intent to destroy rather than resolve.

We lose sight of future goals. An emotional exchange quickly morphs from a healthy discussion to a battle of wills, utilizing destructive tools of criticism, contempt and defensiveness. The battle may be won, but the relationship critically wounded. We get our way at the expense of the desired connection and trust essential for a healthy relationship.

Emotions aren’t the enemy. We need them for survival, sometimes long-term goals must be sacrificed to survive in the moment. Emotions contribute more to life than survival. They’re essential for a rich and rewarding life. But emotions can overwhelm, leading us astray. Our mind switches from reasonableness to blind rage without warning.

If we become intimate with our emotions, familiar with the triggers and misguided thoughts sending us into furies, and become skilled at self-soothing, we can avoid harmful behaviors accompanying an emotionally flooded mind. By doing so, we avoid needless hurting of those around us, and better direct our lives toward more enjoyable objectives.

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Thase, Michael E.; Lang, Susan S. (2004). Beating the Blues: New Approaches to Overcoming Dysthymia and Chronic Mild Depression. Oxford University Press; New Ed edition.

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