Thought or Emotion; Which Comes First?
I’m having trouble telling if emotions precede or follow events, when those events are things you’re remembering or anticipating – in other words, thinking about the past or the future. For stuff that’s happening now, it seems pretty obvious that emotions follow the events. For example, you land a new trick, you feel good; you don’t follow through on something, you feel bad. But for things that have already happened or for things you’re expecting to happen, it seems to me to be more of a “chicken and the egg” type problem.
Do you rehash old painful memories because your brain is in a funky state? Maybe you’re hungry, in caffeine withdrawal, lacking sleep, or in need of some exercise, all of which make you feel some version of “down”. And perhaps if that’s the case your more likely to remember “down” experiences.
Or do those “down” memories surface because they are particularly painful? existing even if not the moment wasn’t directly relevant, yet affecting your emotions anyway. I’m suspicious of this explanation, yet at the same time, the consistency between the thoughts that tend to pop up – in other words, the fact that I seem to have the same set of memories come back in a single period of feeling like shit – makes it seem more plausible that thoughts are responsible.
Also, perhaps it’s not so black and white. Maybe it’s more of a feedback loop, where either case can be the trigger, but afterward both work together to keep the feeling going, until some other piece of the universe lines up to break the cycle and push you in the opposite direction.