Which one is more important Thoughts, Feelings or Behaviors?

By Diana Flores, LCPC

It is now well known that thoughts, feelings and behaviors are all very important because they all influence each other. My thoughts can influence my feelings and behaviors and my feelings can influence my thoughts and behaviors just like my behaviors can influence by thoughts and feelings. This being said, for the purpose of exposure therapy one is actually more important than the other twocan you guess which one? If you guessed Behaviorgo you! But why??? Well lets think this through, lets look at feelings first. Do you wake up happy, stay happy all day and go to bed happy? I dont know about you, but I surely dont. Human feelings are ever changing; therefore focusing on something that is not constant is hard to do. Now lets look at thoughts, researchers suggests that most humans have an average of 40,000 to 70,000 thoughts in one day. Can you imagine, working through every single one of these thoughts, it would be very time consuming and tedious work to do. This brings us to behaviors. Behaviors are more important for our purpose because we can consciously choose our behaviors. We can have negative thoughts and feel sad yet instead of isolating we can choose to smile and go on with our day. When we are in a depressed mood, choosing behaviors that are opposites of what we are feeling and thinking can in return help make us feel and think better. For example: If my dog died, I will feel sad and think negative thoughts such as I was a bad owner for not walking my dog long enough and as a result I may want to stay home and cry. This being said, even though I feel sad and I am entertaining negative thoughts I know that I can choose my behavior and therefore I can push myself to go out and get a cup of coffee with friends. By choosing a behavior that is opposite of my current thoughts and feelings, I give myself the opportunity to mingle with friends over coffee and in return give myself the chance to think and feel much better then if I had stayed at home.