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Ruth L Miller is an eclectic scholar with degrees in many fields of science and the social sciences and is ordained as a New Thought minister - because she keeps on seeking answers to the fundamental questions that make it possible for the spiritual beings we call humanity to live well and in harmony on this planet for generations to come.

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What’s the difference between feelings, thoughts, and emotions?

When we experience something, if we pay attention to our inner process, we can observe a consistent pattern. First, we feel something. It may be a sensation in our body; it may be more nebulous: a “sense” of something.
Then we explore that feeling. We analyze it and think about it: what is that? where is it? where did it come from? what does it mean? These are our first thoughts about it. Once we’ve identified the sensation and its source, we connect it to other, similar sensations in our memories and we think about this new one as it relates to those previous experiences.
Only after we’ve begun this second stage of thinking do we engage our emotions, which can be most briefly listed as: glad, sad, or mad. So our emotions are a product of our thinking.
Now, because our universe is made up of stuff that responds to the consciousness of the observer, you can see that our surface thoughts and emotions are only part of the picture. The underlying feeling in the moment of an experience is really the strongest component, followed by the related feelings and thoughts stored in our memories. Only then do our current, surface thoughts and emotions figure into the process.
So if you’ve been telling yourself how wonderful life is (surface thought), but your stored memories and initial feelings are full of dread and distress, the stuff of our universe is going to respond more immediately to the deeper feelings and memories than to the surface thoughts.
This means that if you want to know what you really feel, look at the world around you. As so many wise teachers have told us, it’s a perfect reflection of what our consciousness has been for the past weeks and months.
This is why so many spiritual traditions include processes for shifting the underlying feelings from fear and distress to peace and trust and joy. When our first feeling is joyful expectation then our thoughts and emotions follow–and so does the universe!

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