Thought and emotion are like filters.
You take a picture of yourself with your phone, and although you are slightly displeased, the photo is good enough to upload to Instagram.
After all, there are filters which can either dull features or bring them out. There are filters to add more colour and texture.
By the time you finish touching the photo up with filters, you seem much happier and at more at ease with posting it – it may even give you a sense of pleasure.
Our day to day experience is like the raw photo, and our the thoughts and emotions we have are like the filters.
For example, someone says something you don’t like during a confrontation and you start to feel angry. If the emotion of anger is strong enough, it will stick around.
It was a single event that triggered the emotion, but because the emotion stays around, you start to get angry at everything.
The emotion will feed back into your thoughts, so that your thoughts become angry – a negative feedback loop. Your whole world is now anger; angry thoughts, more angry emotions, anger driven decisions, anger driven interactions, anger driven reactions etc.
This event triggered anger and now anger has become the temporary filter to your experience as the observer.
Because we become so identified with our thoughts and emotions, they start to feel like our true reality. We are identified with them, so whatever program they run, we will most likely believe.
This analogy has come from trying my best to stay present, particularly when intense emotions arise. Leaning in and observing has taught me just how powerful these filters are in terms of how you perceive life.
Being present and trying to find a place of objectivity during these moments can help ground you back into reality, where most thoughts and emotions have no real basis.