The understanding known as the Three Principles teaches that our thoughts create our feelings. 100% of the time. No exception.
Our thoughts provide the lens or filter through which we are seeing our world in any given moment, and how we are seeing things leads to how we feel about things. Sometimes our thoughts are quiet, peaceful and spacious; at other times they are busy, intense and highly reactive. Sometimes we have ‘perspective’; other times we do not. Depending on the quality of our thinking, we will see the world with clarity or with storm clouds obscuring our vision!
This explains why a certain set of circumstances can drive us mad one day - a partner or child leaving their clothes in the middle of the floor - but have us smiling with fondness another day. It isn’t the circumstances that are ‘doing’ something to us; it is where we are looking from. In other words, life isn’t happening from the outside-in, but from the inside-out. Essentially, we are living in the effect of the quality of our thinking (or our level of consciousness) in every moment. Isn’t this amazing?
Free-falling back to Wisdom
There is a serenity that comes with this understanding. I have felt this myself, many times. Situations or circumstances that I used to think of as distressing now feel much lighter because I can see that the situation itself is neutral. It isn’t making me feel anything; instead, if I’m feeling distress it’s coming from churned up thinking in me. In the presence of this thinking my body immediately starts to get tight and uncomfortable, and my mood goes down or I get really anxious.
Realising that erroneous and unhelpful thinking is all that is happening here is deeply empowering. It enables me to unhook from large and little stories of drama and pain in the moment.
As I unhook, my body responds by releasing the tightness and tension. I feel a sigh of relief arise in me unbidden, and my mood lifts again. I am flooded with hope, space, clarity and lightness. So the more reactive my thinking is, the lower my consciousness, and the more unease I feel in my being. The lighter, more curious, more spacious and trusting my thinking, the higher my state of consciousness, and the better I feel in my being.
This means that whenever I catch myself in tight thinking, and feel my body and emotions becoming uncomfortable and uneasy, I can actually allow myself to free-fall away from the busy, reactive thinking that is causing this. I settle back into my being. I quieten. I come to rest in the ocean of wisdom at my centre. This innate, beautiful, ever-present wisdom at the centre of every human being is our essential nature. I soften into this and allow this to guide me.
I can observe this ‘unhooking’ happening in me so many times a day. I don’t need to ‘go there’, into the fray of drama and emotional mayhem, like I used to. And I observe this happening for clients too.
Where we get mixed up
However, there is a sneaky little blind alley that we can sometimes find ourselves going down. This comes from a misunderstanding of the beautiful way that consciousness works.
People can assume that if our feelings are always and only a reflection of our thinking in the moment then feeling bothered or impacted by life is somehow no longer valid: ‘I shouldn’t be feeling like this: it’s just a thought.’
I have seen several clients who have mistakenly believed that if they are in a low mood or experiencing some distressing feelings then they are somehow failing. That it means that they have fallen into low level consciousness. That they should really be beyond this kind of thing by now. But, here’s the beautiful thing, here’s the kindness of the design: all they are feeling in that moment is a judgemental thought about themselves! Do you see that? Isn’t that amazing? The thought that they are ‘failing’, that they shouldn’t be feeling what they are feeling, is in itself a low quality, unkind, unloving thought. So, they can unhook from that.
And to unhook from that is to free-fall back to allowing, to being curious, to opening up to What Is, to letting themselves be, exactly as they are, without judgement, commentary or resistance. It is to trust themselves in this moment and not be so reactive to or afraid of their own weather patterns.
It is to let the wind, the rain, the sun, the snow, the storm and the quiet expanse of the stars within their internal psychological landscape arise as each arises, and to allow themselves be stirred and moved by all of these.
That’s the Three Principles in action.
Be moved by Life
I have said this many times before, and I will no doubt say it many times more: we are meant to be moved by life. We are extraordinarily sentient beings. We have been made to feel.
And this is a wondrous gift. It is not something that we ever want to switch off. Instead, we want to grow into this, expand our capacity to let energy move through us and move us, and become more curious about what is unfolding within us.
It turns out that when we relax into what we are feeling, the wisdom of our feeling response will give us impeccable feedback - about the quality of our thinking and about the way we are perceiving our world.
There is such deep peace in this.