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The Real Reason You Did That

Previously I wrote about how thoughts creates feelings. No matter the circumstance, or what another person said or did, it’s your thoughts about what happened that create your feelings.

Taking this a step further: if your thoughts create your feelings, what do your feelings create?

A few months ago, a small credit card processing company made the news when the owner announced that the minimum salary for employees would be raised to $70,000. This sounded like great news for everyone who works there. But it turns out that not all employees were pleased with this decision. In fact, several employees quit their jobs.

It may seem surprising that increasing pay caused a backlash among some employees. But if we look closer, we can understand what happened.

One employee was quoted about the salary increase: “Now the people who were just clocking in and out were making the same as me,” he complained. “It shackles high performers to less motivated team members.”

And: “I had a lot of mixed emotions”

So he quit.

Why? Feelings create actions.

He had a solid position at a successful company and received a significant raise. Sounds like a great situation.

Now imagine thinking “I am a high performer and now I am shackled to less motivated team members.” Is he literally connected to his colleagues by irons and chains? Of course not. But he is thinking he is tethered to people who don’t contribute as much as he does.

What feelings does this thought create? Perhaps disrespected and not valued. Maybe betrayed and confused or angry and unmotivated.

With any of these feelings, going to work would be uncomfortable. With all of them, it would be demoralizing. And motivation to find a new job.

If instead he had a thought that created feelings of respect, appreciation, value and camaraderie, my hunch is he would still be with the company. It’s our feelings that create our actions.

Understanding the connections from thoughts to actions is so important for understanding where you are in your life. How is this useful for you? You can look at any results you are getting in your life (positive or negative) and trace back to the source.


Actions result from feelings.

Feelings result from thoughts.

You can be a detective in your life by looking at something you do and working backwards:

  • When you take this action, what are you feeling? Can you identify the feeling right before the action? If you aren’t sure, ask yourself if you are mad, sad, glad or afraid.

  • Once you recognize the feeling, what were you thinking that brought up that feeling?

If an action created something you want in your life, you now know how to recreate the results – keep thinking that thought.

If you want to change the results you are getting in your life, you know where to start – your thinking.

Once you understand the thinking behind your actions, you can see how you are setting yourself up for the results you get. You become clear about what’s working for you and what isn’t.

The best part is, you can be deliberate in continuing – or changing – what you do.

"You are, after all, what you think. Your emotions are the slaves to your thoughts, and you are the slave to your emotions." – Elizabeth Gilbert

"All action results from thought, so it is thoughts that matter." – Sai Baba, Indian spiritual master

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