Ep. 27: The Power to Choose Your Feelings

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I’m going to let you in on a golden nugget of truth that maybe you’ve never heard before: feelings are optional

Yup, you read that right. 

The ability to feel a full spectrum of contrasted, complex emotions are an inherent and integral part of the human experience – it’s what makes our species who (and what) we are.

But we do not have to be at the whim of some emotional rollercoaster. Feelings don’t happen to us. We get to choose how to feel. 

Try to wrap your head around this.

The most fundamental truth of my work revolves around this teaching: Our thoughts create our feelings, which influence our actions and the results we create in our lives. 

Today, we’re digging into why our emotions are not actually caused by external factors, but by our own thinking – and how to work this to our advantage.

So here’s the thing: when we stop feeling bad about feeling bad, we feel better.

This does not mean that you should try to choose to feel great all the time. There is a huge difference when you decide that feeling sad is what you want to feel, versus believing that an emotion is not within your control.

If you feel like your anxiety, frustration, sadness, grief, or pain is caused by the external world (which you’re unable to control), you will be tempted to buffer – to escape what you’re feeling.

You will be tempted to avoid your emotion because you think there is nothing you can do about it.

But that’s not true. 

Because the world doesn’t cause you to feel what you feel, your thoughts do – and only you are in control of your thinking. 

By and large, our inability to manage our emotions is the root cause of our suffering – so we need to learn how to do that better. 

But it’s a process. 

Step one is developing an awareness of our emotions. Step two is being willing to feel any emotion, for as long as it takes. And step three is where we’re at – learning how to change our thoughts about our emotions.

It all starts by asking yourself: What are the feelings that I want to experience in the world? What emotions do I want to be able to feel in order to have the full human experience?

If we don’t consciously reflect on this, we get into what I call ‘feeling habits’. 

We get stuck in a pattern of experiencing only a small repertoire of feelings and begin to think that they are part of us – our temperament, who we are – and we close off to new and different feelings.

But when we really understand why we’re feeling the way we do, what we’re thinking and what’s causing it, then we can start to understand that these habits we have include feeling.

So I invite you to start paying attention to your thinking. 

Decide what you’re going to feel on purpose and deliberately change your thoughts to eliminate the feelings that aren’t serving you.

Not just to feel better. Choose emotions that will help you evolve.

Because to be willing to add new emotions to our repertoires, we need to:

:: Allow unwanted feelings in order to release resistance

:: Eliminate the indulgent feelings

We have to earn the ability to change our emotions. Only then can we experience new emotions and practice including them in our lives in ways that will actively help us create our dreams.

And rebel, you – and you alone – get to decide what that looks like.

In This Episode You’ll Learn:

  • How to gain control over your thoughts instead of rejecting and resisting your emotions
  • Why the external world doesn’t cause us to feel what we feel – our thoughts about our circumstances do
  • How to stop compounding your thoughts and emotions
  • An exercise you can do to figure out which emotions you want to keep in your back pocket, and which you want to let go of
  • How to break your “feeling habits”
  • Why, if you want to feel better, one of the best ways to start is to accept that not feeling good all the time is part of being human


// For more on why saying “I don’t know” is a huge energy suck, check out Episode 25 on Clearing Out Decision Clutter.

// If you’re new here, grab the starter kit I created at RebelBuddhist.com. It has all you need to start creating a life of more freedom, adventure, and purpose. You’ll get access to the private Facebook group where you can ask me questions! Once you join, there’s also a weekly FB live called Wake the F*ck Up Wednesday, where you can ask questions that come up as you do this work – in all parts of your life.