Now that you know, understand, and accept that your emotions are caused by the thoughts and beliefs that you hold about the various events, people, and things in your life, let’s explore the validity of these ideas.
First and foremost, let’s start with the principle that a thought or a belief can be classified into one, and only one, of the following categories:
- True or Rational: The idea corresponds to reality.
- False or Irrational: The idea does not correspond to reality.
- Uncertain or Questionnable: Without enough knowledge of reality, the idea cannot be classified into either one of the first two categories.
But what is reality? And how do we define it? Reality is what actually exists—what is. Of course, we don’t know everything there is to know about reality. For example, we still don’t know for sure whether there are other inhabited worlds in our universe. However, because we do know at least some elements, it is then possible for us to compare the ideas we have about reality with reality itself.
As I have pointed out in my post titled Happiness – The Secret Code Between Thoughts and Beliefs, to know means that we can demonstrate the existence of a thing, that we have proof that this thing actually exists. On the other hand, that does not mean that some of our unproven beliefs are necessarily false or irrational. As a matter of fact, these beliefs may be true, but we have no real way of knowing it. In this case, we simply classify our unproven beliefs into the “uncertain or questionnable” category.
Now, no matter if an idea is true, false, or uncertain, if it has the ability to create an emotion, we can be sure that it will create it. The bottom line is not all of our thoughts and beliefs trigger emotions. More precisely, our thoughts and beliefs that purely describe reality will not cause us any emotion at all. Let’s consider the following examples:
- There is a lion in the street.
- My daughter broke her leg.
- My husband left with another woman.
Our emotions are created when, and only when, our personal assessment or our opinion comes into play. Now, let’s re-consider the above-mentioned examples:
- There is a lion in the street… How horrible!
- My daughter broke her leg… What a pity!
- My husband left with another woman… He’s a bastard!
Needless to say it is of extreme importance for you to be able to distinguish the true ideas from the false and the uncertain ones. In fact, both your happiness and the quality of your life depend on it. Considering that certain emotions are very unpleasant to experience, that they may lead to actions that can be very harmful to you, and that they can also be caused by false ideas, it then follows that it is possible for you to emotionally disturb yourself and act against your own interest—and all of this, needlessly, for nothing.
In my opinion, it is already painful enough to suffer and endure the troubles and annoyances of life. But to suffer because of an error, even if widespread and popular, not only does that seem absurd to me, but that makes it even more worthwhile to avoid this suffering by making the effort to distinguish the true ideas from the false and the uncertain ones. Don’t you agree?
© Chantal Beaupre 2010