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Thoughts don't create actions. Thoughts create emotions, emotions create actions.

McKinley Valentine — 2 min read
Thoughts don't create actions. Thoughts create emotions, emotions create actions.
Photo by Milad Fakurian / Unsplash

The point here is that sometimes you beat yourself like "ugghh I wasn't gonna have sugar and I bought and ate a whole tub salted caramel icecream, whyyyyy do I suck so much at this".

And then you say "I should be kinder to myself."

And then you say "well, no, I literally did eat a whole tub of icecream, that happened, I have to be honest about that."

You think that if you don't be a bit harsh with yourself when you genuinely fuck up then you'll let yourself get away with it in future, etc, etc.

Which makes sense, if thoughts create actions. "It's okay / I'm okay" would lead to no guilt and doing whatever you like. But they don't (or that's the theory I'm putting forward here).

The thought creates the emotion, "I'm shit", and that emotion makes you do whatever coping mechanism you do when you feel shitty - probably hide in bed or eat comfort food, probably not re-vamp your resume and get out there, whoo!

The thought, "I'm okay" creates a positive feeling, and feeling positive makes you way more likely to exercise, set healthy boundaries, and generally be sweet to yourself.

(This isn't made up, lots of evidence says that a distinguishing aspect of depression is the feeling that your actions do not particularly have any ability to influence results. If you feel like nothing you do has any effect, why bother trying to do something good? Why bother getting out of bed at all?)

So, don't fall for the trap of "I have to let myself be mean to myself or I'll never improve". Don't think that letting yourself talk that way is being a serious, responsible adult. It's not. It's unhelpful. The most serious, responsible thing is to do whatever lifts your mood enough to take positive steps.

Talking about general lack of discipline here, not grave ethical missteps obviously. Probably beat yourself up a little about those.

(also emotions create thoughts, no space to get into that here)

This piece was originally published in The Whippet #21 – subscribe to get the next one in your inbox!

Unsolicited AdviceEQ & Interpersonal


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