How many times have you heard people talk like this:
“You made me feel bad when you….”
“When you did that, you made me feel upset….”
As a professional, I cringe when I hear these statements. Everyone is very quick to talk about how other people make them feel, but they always seem to forget to ask one very critical question:
How would we EVER learn to be happy, if the things that happen to us control how we feel?
If you assume that our external world controls our feelings and moods, then finding true happiness must be like wandering in the desert – hopeless and futile. We would have to wait until the stars align and only good things happen in our lives before we could ever be happy. The chances of ALL of that happening are slim to none.
Now, I know that most of us respond to the external forces in our lives. If something good happens to us, then we have a good day. If something bad happens to us, then we have a bad day. There is a direct relation for most of us between events and our moods. If so many of us experience different moods and emotions based on the things that happen to us, that must be how our brain works, right? WRONG. This is an illusion, and a pretty unhealthy one at that.
No one can make us feel anything.
This is a huge idea and it’s hard for a lot of people to wrap their head around because it’s been drilled into us for so long. It’s the root of a lot of discomfort. It’s also the reason you have lost a lot of power in controlling your emotions and learning more about yourself.
Here’s how the brain actually works:
The order of events is like this:
We have a thought internally, and based on our beliefs and experiences, that thought causes an emotion.
That emotion causes us to exhibit a behavior.
The exhibited behavior results in a final outcome for the situation.
So, the cycle looks like this:
The cycle continues because new outcomes cause new thoughts, triggering the rest of the reactions. This is an accurate picture of what really causes us to feel. This is how our thoughts, behaviors, emotions, and outcomes all connect together. So, for the sake of simplicity, I would like you to meet the TEBO CYCLE or just TEBO for short. We’re going to talk about TEBO a lot, so reference this chart if you have any questions about this cycle.
Now, TEBO has four basic parts and those parts can all be affected in different ways. You could say that a change in any part of the pattern could impact change in the rest of the cycle.
Written by Brad Messenger, LMSW.