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The circle of thoughts and emotions

Unsplash - Fire Circle

I mentioned several times the circle of thoughts and emotions in my previous posts and I want to give more depth to it, since to me, this is the baseline to better understand yourself and the mechanism of "unconscious" reactions we all have.

Living in the present moment means nothing else than being conscious. Being aware all the time. While there are a lot of tools you can make use of to train consciousness and presence like meditation, yoga, etc. It is worth to first discover your unconsciousness. Trust me, you're more unconscious than you think you are.

Psychologists often refer to the circle of fear. Fear is a wide ranged term that describes an emotional state out of which a lot of declined versions like anger, uncertainty, shyness, and so on emerge from. This is the same I'm referring to but in a generalized way.

How does it work

Very simple to understand. First comes a thought into your mind which then triggers an emotion. The emotion is amplifying and feeding your thoughts and vice versa. The same is true the other way around. First comes an emotion which triggers thoughts. Both will amplify each other. This process happens unconsciously.

Components of the circle

  • The mind (thinking)

  • The body (feeling) (Note: the body is not limited to producing emotions. It can also react with other symptoms like head-ache, blood pressure, skin irritation, "diseases")

First thought, then emotion example

Let's imagine you're daydreaming. You picture yourself on holidays how you walk down the beach under the sun, hearing the waves of the ocean breaking on the shore. You start to feel comfortable, relieved, warmth and whatever comes through. Now you always dreamed about hiking in the mountains. You develop hiking in the mountains to climbing. Then to free climbing. As you climb, you reach frightening heights and as you look down, suddenly you feel excitement. Then your mind kicks in as it often happens, imagining the worse case scenario,... you lose grip and fall down. Yes, you feel adrenaline while sitting on your terrasse just because you thought and imagined all these things.

Important to know: Your body cannot distinguish between reality and fiction. If you imagine escaping from a tiger. Your body will react.

First emotion, then thoughts example

The example I used in a previous post about responsibility is just perfect to explain this. You're on the road with your car, arriving at a crossroads where someone steals your priority. Your body reacts with adrenaline and alertness. Then your thoughts go banana. You shout on that person etc. And depending on how long you remain unconscious about the situation and the level of energy, you might remain stuck for a while submitted to anger, pressure, stress and so on.


Knowing that the body cannot distinguish between reality and fiction, and understanding the above examples. You'll find thousands of other examples, where we live unconscious. The amount of "negativity" we expose ourselves to, blaming others for how we feel, just because we're unconscious and live out of reactions instead of being aware of what happens within us and realizing that at the end, we're in control. It is our own responsibility.

How to become conscious

Now that you know the mechanism. Just pay attention to it whenever such an event happens to you. That's it.

Paying attention is a conscious action. Noticing that such a mechanism exists in you transforms the unconsciousness into consciousness. It will take a while, but as you grow in awareness about your feelings and how your mind reacts unconsciously, you'll notice such happenings will lose in energy and inner freedom will grow.

Important to note!

Eventually, you might feel overwhelmed while realizing how many of such situations exist within you. You might start to feel uncomfortable knowing all this, and your natural reaction is to get rid of it. You just want it to not happen anymore.


Building resistance will make things worse. So the fundamental rule to live in the present moment is to welcome and accept everything with love, free of judgement. This applies here as well. Although it might feel "uncomfortable", just take note of it. Realize that actually, while having become conscious about it, you found out that you don't want to live in this unconscious way no more. Think about it with a smile. "Ah, ok, I feel, I don't like it. That's fine". Allow it to be. This gives space and through the space it will transform automatically. Or release. Whatever suits your mind best.

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