Chapter 6 Power of Thoughts and Emotions

  • When we talk about mental health our feelings matter a lot. Our thoughts and feelings influence us, often unconsciously, in everything we do.
  • We want to look at how thoughts and feelings are related and also how physical reactions are linked to this.
  • Talking about thoughts and emotions it is important to mention that a mental illness affects and influences our thoughts and feelings.
  • Thoughts help us figure out what mood we are in in a particular situation. As soon as a feeling arises, we often develop thoughts that further confirm or reinforce it. For example, depressed people tend to remember all the negative aspects of their lives, while danger dominates the thoughts of anxious people. This does not mean that our thoughts are wrong when we experience a feeling intensely. But when we are in a particular emotional state, we are more likely to distort, disregard, or ignore information that challenges the plausibility of our moods and beliefs.
  • Our thoughts and our behavior are closely linked. For example, if we think something is feasible, we are more likely to try it. We can use this knowledge to achieve goals and control our thoughts.
  • Sometimes we are not aware of the thoughts that influence our actions. For example, we do things out of pure habit, where we no longer have the thought behind it present. In addition, our thoughts have an impact on physical reactions. For example, when we watch a thriller, our body reacts accordingly and the heart beats faster, the breathing rate changes and our muscles tense.
  • Knowing, analyzing and questioning one’s thoughts and feelings, and then mentioning alternative views if necessary, is a crucial factor in changing one’s thoughts and feelings.
  • It is often a matter of training one’s own perception, perceiving the feeling of fear, for example, and finding a way to deal with it.
  • Physical signals can help you determine how you are feeling. So observe your body reactions: shoulders hunched can be a sign of irritability or anxiety, a heavy body feeling could indicate disappointment or fatigue.

Basic beliefs are statements about ourselves, other people, or the world. They represent the roots of our underlying assumptions and automatic thoughts. They are positive or negative. You can recognize them by questioning the motives of your actions or by forming sentences like: “I am…”, “other people are…”, “the world is…”. New, positive thought beliefs can be reinforced by documenting experiences that are consistent with them, assessing confidence in behaviors associated with the beliefs, and conducting behavioral experiments to test these beliefs.

Core beliefs change and become stronger over time. They exert a major influence on how we think, feel, and behave.

Video: You are not your thoughts

Identify Emotions

In order to understand and positively influence our own feelings, we must first identify them. Strong feelings are a sign that something important is happening in your life. Identifying these feelings helps you set goals and track their progress.

Feelings can often be described with a single word. It can be helpful to compile a list of feelings.


Make a list with several emotions and their definitions that help you to identify your emotions; you can also google for this online

As we have learned our emotions are linked to thoughts, it might help you to get a better overview of your emotional reactions when you write a diary about this. You can keep it simple when you make notes in situations you are reacting emotional. If you want you can also add a time or a day to clearify if this emotion always happen in a special time or day.



Once you have identified a feeling, it is also important to assess the intensity of a feeling. So you can observe mood swings, or react to unpleasant feelings. For this purpose a scaling helps:

A thought log can help you analyze your thoughts more closely: How are my thoughts connected to feelings? What is fact and what is my interpretation? How do I recognize automatic thoughts? The following examples will help you to write your own thought protocol.

1. Connect thoughts to emotions

I am stupit, I will never understand that.Depression
They will fire me for being lateFear

2. Fact vs. Interpretation

ThoughtInterpretation or Fact
She always looks at me criticallyInterpretation
Her facial expression changedFact