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  • Andrew Lewis

Thinking about rainbows.

A rainbow is an optical illusion. We see rainbows when light is refracted and reflected after striking drops of water. Without the drops of water, we see no rainbow, no colours. Yet the drops of water do not possess colour.

This could help us to understand something about out thinking.

Thoughts have no emotions or feelings, just as the water droplets have no colour. Feelings and emotions don't exist in a thought. They are the product of our reactions and responses to the thought.

Why does this matter? Aren't we just playing with words? Splitting hairs?

It matters a good deal because we often say, 'This thought is making me feel.......(anxious?, worried?, depressed?, happy?, excited? etc) but it is not the thought that does this. A thought can't do anything!

It is our reactions and responses that produce the feelings and emotions. In other words we are adding these colours to the otherwise harmless, colourless thought.

When we see this we can drop the futile struggle to chase away worrying, anxious thoughts and direct our attention to exploring our reactions and responses with curiosity and a willingness to take care of ourselves with kindness, inner wisdom and honesty. It is very likely that we will learn new things about ourselves. We will become aware that many of our reactions and responses are unhelpful, and in fact, the consequence of hard wired, 'same old' habits, that we have long burdened ourselves with. These 'stories we tell ourselves' are stale, unhelpful, and misleading. It is not the thought that is doing this. We are doing it to ourselves.

This is good news. We can't stop a thought arriving but we can see it for what it is and then focus our energy in useful and helpful ways.

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