Your feelings and deeds contribute to your reality, but thoughts are at the root. From Buddha to Marcus Aurelius to Bruce Lee, there are numerous wise souls who have advised paying attention to your thoughts because as you think, so you become! My Dad has always said, "as the thought, so the mind, as the mind, so the man." The implications are profound. But can our thoughts really shape our reality? The science student in me has broken down this hypothesis into a chain reaction to validate its veracity.
First up, thoughts trigger feelings. When I think I am late for work, I feel agitated and spend the rest of my day feeling like I'm playing catch up. When I think someone has made a rude comment, I feel insulted, angry, or hurt. And equally, when I think I will have a good day at work, I feel cheerful and productive. So my thoughts are a screen of perception that certainly influences my feelings.
Next, feelings trigger actions and consequent reactions. When those actions are repeated over and over again, they become habits. If I am angry, I might yell at the object of my anger- the couch in the way of my toe, for instance. Now, if I am always prone to yell when I'm angry, that becomes a habit. That would certainly not bode well for my image at work. The reaction might be self-loathing or, even more anger. Feelings definitely lead to actions, reactions, and when done repeatedly they become habits.
These habits over time become behaviors. A behavior is nothing but how you show up in a particular situation. Going back to the yelling when angry example- that could easily be categorized as misbehavior. Your behaviors then collectively define 'who' you are in the eyes of others and your own. Your behaviors create your personal reality.
Let's put a more positive spin on the anger example. If my response to anger is Teflon-like- one of "unstickability," then my behavior over time will be unfazed to anger triggers. My personality will therefore be calm and peaceful, which will reflect my personal reality. I will attract more calm and peace because that is the signal I am sending out to the Universe. It's like an inkpot, it will always lend itself to being refilled with ink and not honey.
Now here's where it gets interesting. My personality creates specific belief patterns in my psyche- either borrowed beliefs from my family or societal/cultural influences or my own ingrained beliefs.
The most challenging beliefs to shake are those you adopted even before your personality took shape. For instance, what if your belief of "I am not enough" was unintentionally planted by a parent, teacher, sibling, or caregiver in your early years?
It's quite simple. Your beliefs have the power to influence your thoughts, your feelings, or both! Let's follow the same thread. Say I have a belief of "I am not enough." This might trigger a thought of "I'll never get that job- there are 1000 people better suited than me!" The accompanying feelings of angst, anxiety, or/and depression might follow. These feelings would then trigger a negative action such as addition or self-loathing.
I give these grim examples only to drive home the point that the premise of your thoughts leads to your reality and further on to your beliefs is all just part of a self-perpetuating cycle. The hypothesis is undoubtedly validated.
But what are the implications? Quite simply, to create a reality of your choosing, there are three ways in which you can go about this.
This is the most durable route, but perhaps also the hardest to influence, for your thoughts have a mind of their own! Just as you cannot control your heart's beating, you cannot control your mind's thinking. What you can do, though, is choose not to engage with certain thoughts. For instance, if I am trying to change my personality of being judgemental, then each time a critical thought enters my mind, all I need to do is to observe it, maybe even thank it for when it once served me, and then invite it to leave, for I no longer need it. Another option is to not engage with it at all. Simply becoming aware that you have noticed a thought as an observer is enough to cause it to lose its power. It takes time and conscious effort, but you can get there.
Here we have more room to play. If I want to change a feeling, all do is bring to mind a memory of when I felt the desired feeling and then relive it as though it were happening in real-time. Bring all the sensations from the past into the present moment. See the sights, hear the sounds, feel the touch, taste, smell transport yourself to that emotional state you now desire.
Going at it through your actions is THE most effective way to achieve the outcome you want- and then the perpetual cycle I introduced you to will take care of the rest. So if I am angry and want to have a calm response, I first look at some of the behaviors calm people display in similar situations and emulate those behaviors through my actions. For instance, I might extricate myself from the situation and take a walk to get some fresh air in. That act in itself will calm my nervous system, and the more I do it, the more it imprints as behavior and my consequent personality.
We're so malleable because we are pure energy, and energy can always be transmuted. Change your vibration, and you change your reality. Here is a word of warning: the reality that you experience is not the same as what others experience. No two people see the same thing in precisely the same way. Even your reflection in the mirror- how you see yourself, is not how anyone else sees you; sit with that a minute.