How are thoughts and emotions connected?

Recently I was scared about going to an appointment and I felt really uncomfortable while sitting there, talking to this very polite lady who just wanted the best for me. After I got out of the room, I felt kind of guilty having developed unnecessary feelings of anxiety, which led me to the question how my thoughts are connected with my feelings.


Thoughts trigger feelings by setting your focus of attention. Your opinion and belief about something shifts your perspective to a specific point of view. Therefor you feel what you focus on.


What are thoughts?

After doing some research on this topic, I found out there are many different kinds of thoughts. The simple way of dividing them is by time:

  • Past thoughts
  • Present thoughts
  • Future thoughts

Past thoughts include everything that has happened past the moment you are in right now. This could be thoughts about the near accident you could avoid in the last moment or about your childhood, playing with your friends in the neighborhood. So there is a great variety of thoughts about your past.


Present thoughts seem to be pretty simple to explain too. They are the thought about what you do right at this moment. You are for example reading this text right now or checking an e-mail or a YouTube video in another tab. But if you think about it for a moment, present thoughts cannot exist. Because when you think about something it must have already happened or is going to happen in the next moment. Let’s take the example of my anxiety for that appointment. I was concerned about what is going to happen and not about what happens. Or let’s say you think about what someone said to you. You don`t think about what he or she says, but what has already been said.


Past thoughts are obviously things that have happened in your life. This can go back to your life as a baby or to the very second that just passed.


How thoughts create feelings

You can separate different kinds of thoughts. For example you can have picture-thoughts, memory-thoughts, idea-thoughts and also thoughts for certain sounds, feelings and emotions.

Let`s do a little experiment:

Think about your favorite place you have visited. Imagine how beautiful it looked like with all the little details. How did the house or hotel looked like that you stayed in? How big is it? In what color is it painted? How do the doors, the windows or the furniture look like? What about the people that also visit that place? How do they look like? Think about the looks of the environment in detail.

Now think about the sounds you have heard. The birds, the sound of people talking in another language, the waves crashing at the beach, the music in the radio. Try to capture as much of the ambient sounds the place had to offer.

Now let’s think about the feelings you had visiting that place. How warm or cold is it? Is the sun shining? Feel the wind blowing and your feet walking on the surface. What could you smell?

Try to be there with all your senses.


If you could`t really imagine the things because you had to read the words, I invite you to try it out right now with your eyes closed, because that way you can imagine much better.


To be honest I don’t really like to talk about this because it may sound to spiritual or ezoteric. But when I image these things, I can really feel myself being there and I start to forget what I felt like a moment ago. If you had the same feelings – great!


Now you have hopefully seen for yourself how your thoughts can create your feelings.


Your brain connects certain emotions with certain thoughts. These connections are created in the past. Even when you think about an event in the future and think about how a situation could evolve, your brain still relates to feelings from the past.

Example: As a kid you did not fear anything right? You would try and do whatever you wanted, because you were curious what that is. One day you were put in the water to learn swimming. You connect no fear with water, because probably your parents taught you how to swim and you felt safe. But what if you were thrown into the water, helplessly trying to survive, feeling how you nearly drown until either a courageous person or your parents help you to get out of the water. Will you still connect safety with water? – I`m sure you won`t. Experiences like these create panic in people that see or think about the ocean for example.

When ask that person as an adult if he or she wants to go swim with you, the emotions from childhood will come up, nevertheless the event of going in the water is in the future.

I`m sure you have a similar experience too in certain situations and can relate to that.


How you can use more of your potential

This website is all about how you can use more of your potential and therefore it is natural for me to ask how we can use that information to improve ourselves.


One way is to think more positively. Now, I know you have heard that very often in your life and I really don’t want to be the one that preaches to you how important it is to think positively. But I want you to think about it, so you can create your own opinion.

Thinking more positive thoughts two parts of it. First, you will see more positive things happen in your life. Second, you will be much happier when thinking about the good in every situation.

Here is an example: Think about the negative things for a moment. The careless driver who cut your lane, the angry vendor at the store or your pain in the back.

Now think about the positive things: The nice driver that let you into his lane, the patient vendor who listened to all your questions or the fact that you can breathe, walk and move.

I don`t know about you, but I would much more likely live in the positive world.


You see, when thoughts lead to feelings, why don`t you chose your thoughts to control your feeling? You could easily change your state by changing your thoughts, so why do you chose the negative ones? Unless you want to be really angry and depressed all the time, I would suggest that you should be aware of the power your thoughts can have.


Think positively and you will be much happier and have more energy to use more of your potential. You can’t be at your best with a negative mind-set. You will lose power by thinking negatively.


The second way to use more of your potential is to be in the “NOW” as Eckhart Tolle says in his book “The Power Of Now”. That means that you shouldn’t be thinking at all, completely living the present moment. Eckhart Tolle says that you should “pay close attention to every step, every moment, even your breathing.”

“But how does this help to use more of my potential?” you ask. I will give you a personal example: I am at peak performance, when nothing distracts me. When I am riding my bike for example, I fully concentrate on every movement I make. It feels very natural and I get into a state of “Flow” where I can experience the moment with my full attention. I’m sure you have those moments too in your life and I bet that these moments are the ones you feel most powerful. So why don`t you transfer this into your day to day life? I certainly tried and when I reached the point of full consciousness, I could do twice the work in half the time. It is really powerful!



I hope you now understand the basics of how thoughts and emotions are connected and can use that information to use more of your potential.

If you just scrolled down to see the answers, here they are in short:


  • Your brain has connected past experiences with emotions. Every time you think about them or about an event that might be similar, it will trigger your emotions.
  • You can alter your emotions by altering your thoughts. Think more positively and you will be more happy → and can use more of your potential.
  • Start to live in the “NOW”, in the present moment, where you can get in a state of “Flow” to get more done in less time or to enjoy and appreciate your time.


If you have different opinions about this topic or have found a serious mistake about my understanding, please leave a comment. I would also like to hear how you enjoyed the article and it`s style. I appreciate every comment that corrects my language, grammar or use of words, because I am german and do not speak english fluently. – You would help me a lot to use more of my potential :).

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