If you were a cartoon character, what would be within the thought bubble that floats above your head? (“She looks like an Umpa Lumpa in that dress.”)
If you were the protagonist in a novel, how would the author describe your emotional state? (“The rage started to build inside him, until it exploded with a yell and a rainstorm of bullets.”)
As a child, I would sometimes narrate my thoughts and feelings as if I were an author writing a biography or cartoon strip. Definitely a weird, out of body experience at any age. (“I know. Right?”)
But a useful one. This ability to detach and observe thoughts and feelings with some objectivity is actually a great skill and tool. When I’m caught up in a negative emotion, such as anger, frustration, fear, resentment, or despair, I can feel totally consumed by them. The thought bubble/author exercise is helpful to take the steam out of the feelings so that I can articulate and understand them. Once I find some objectivity, I usually find the situation is not as bad as I think, I start to understand my role in it and/or I gain clarity on what I need to do.
Detach and observe is also really important in our daily lives since we often carry an undercurrent of thoughts and emotions that we may not be aware of. For example, in the previous few hours before you sat down to read this blog, what would be in the thought bubbles floating above your head? Is it a constant outpouring of thoughts in some random confused jumble? Are you obsessing about a particular idea or situation? Or is it mostly a blank slate except for what you’re doing or about to do in the moment?
Likewise, what is the external author saying about your internal emotional state in the past few hours? Is it a blank slate? Or, is something brewing in there? Are you aware of it? Or is it silently controlling you like some Machiavellian mind control experiment? Or are you actively creating positive emotion, such as gratitude, awe, love, and excitement (hopefully you’re intentionally doing the latter, since you’re reading this blog)?
Is there a relationship between your emotional state and your thought bubbles? Is one feeding the other and causing the quality of your existence to grow in a particular direction?
Probably, yes. There tends to be a strong interplay between the two. The questions are: Which direction is it going and what are you doing about it?
In my past I’d usually feel like I had no control over my ticker tape thoughts and internal emotional state. Those thoughts were truth and reality. Those emotions were caused by you, and you are making me feel this way.
I know now that the quality of my emotions and thoughts are within my own power and sphere of influence. I liken this work to gardening. If I don’t attend to my internal world, then I tend to grow a lot of emotional weeds that lead me to destructive or unproductive thoughts and actions. If I have a neutral internal world but starve the plants by not fertilizing them with positive emotion, then my thoughts and actions may be stagnating. However, if I remove weeds and fertilize regularly then I’ll grow flowering emotions and my thoughts and actions will follow suit.
That’s how I create my own inner Eden. (“She felt a sense of satisfaction hoping that readers might benefit from this lesson.”)