Thoughts -> Feelings -> Behaviors
If you take a moment to consider how interconnected your thoughts, feelings, and behaviors are, the title of this post makes perfect sense – although I don’t think it’s something we tend to think about very often. But by pausing to contemplate the ways in which you think, feel, and act are related, you’ll see there are a lot of opportunities to change any one of those factors and have a significant impact on the others as well.
Our beliefs shape our feelings and actions – what we think impacts how we act
Our feelings impact what we think and do.
What we do impacts how we think and feel.
It’s a chain of events (or a vicious cycle at times), and it means that altering one piece of the equation will affect the entire outcome.
Let’s say you believe that in order to change your eating or exercise habits, the process has to be complicated and uncomfortable. Therefore, you feel unmotivated to make a change and your actions or behaviors stay the same.
You could change your thoughts or beliefs – reminding yourself that small changes can make a big difference and you don’t have to be “all-in” to see results. This could affect how you feel about making a change and trickle down into choosing new behaviors.
Or you could change your behaviors first – making one small change that feels easy and manageable, which could then impact your beliefs and feelings about changing your eating or exercise habits.
(Not to mention that changing your behaviors/actions will also change how you feel not just on an emotional level, but also physically and mentally, which has an enormous impact on motivation and resilience!)
Changing your thoughts, behaviors, or actions is definitely easier said than done – especially since our brains have a “negativity bias,” meaning that we look for worst case scenarios and remember “bad” things more than good.
But if you’re able to notice when your brain is grasping onto a negative outcome or idea, rethinking or reframing that thought can be the trigger that sets new feelings and behaviors into motion.
Or, if changing how you think about something doesn’t produce the desired result, making a behavior change – no matter how small – can often get the ball rolling.
As a personal example, for a long time I had been stuck in a routine of doing lots of cardio exercise and not much strength training – I had the belief that running was the most effective way for me to get in shape, lose weight, and maintain my progress. My thoughts, feelings, and behaviors matched up.
Then I started learning about the importance of strength training, and experiencing the side effects of burnout. My thoughts on the matter started to change, and I was feeling uncomfortable because my actions weren’t matching up with what was going on in my brain.
These new thoughts and feelings began to impact my behavior, and I started to make changes not only to how I was thinking but also to what I was actually doing.
I also used to think that I would not enjoy yoga – I felt it was too slow paced for me and that the best way for me to relieve stress was to have an intense workout. But when the gym where I work moved next door to a yoga studio, I decided to give it a try.
Changing my behavior and going to yoga a few times a week almost immediately changed my thoughts and feelings about how much I would enjoy it, and whether or not I’d experience the restorative benefits. But if I hadn’t acted first, I never would have changed my beliefs about yoga, and I never would have developed a practice that has now become an important part of my routine.
Thoughts -> Feelings -> Actions. Use it to your advantage!
Next week I will investigate how our identities, values, and goals are intertwined – and thus affect our actions and behaviors – but for now I will leave you with this quote from author and former U.S. Junior Chess Champion Joshua Waitzkin:
“It’s remarkable how the mind follows the body. Honestly, I think a lack of understanding
or desire to understand that simple evolutionary reality is what inhibits so many people
from rapidly improving their lives.”
Have you changed your feelings or actions by changing your thoughts? Or changed your thoughts or feelings by changing your behavior? Tell me your story!
And if you’d like personalized guidance to help change your thoughts, feelings, and actions around your health and wellness, coaching can help. Send me a message or schedule your free consultation call and let’s get the conversation started.
...for your free 30 minute consultation call, or visit https://calendly.com/meganfschall/consultation-call to get started!