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Where Do Our Thoughts Come From?

A friend of mine recently asked me about thoughts. Where do they come from? What predicates them? He wondered if we manifest them or do they sort of just appear and we react? He describes that, “Every now and again my grandmother, who’s been dead for almost 17 years - sometimes, out of the blue and seemingly without effort she just shows up in my thoughts. That’s just one example. I think there may be something to thoughts manifesting themselves oftentimes.” I thought this was a good opportunity to explain how emotion affects how thoughts “manifest.” I would say that since emotion predicates all action; i.e., regarding thoughts, we experience stimulus that activates emotion which links to memory. This is the precursor to thoughts. Perhaps you saw, smelled, tasted, or felt something that reminds you of your grandmother which activates an emotional response triggering a thought or memory. Not all emotion is negative. We have two kinds of emotions: those designed to protect us (anger, sad, fear, disgust, shame) and those designed to enhance our experience (love, care, joy, pride). For example, a smell takes you back to a first kiss or holiday, or a smell can trigger something painful or bad like something burning or rotten food. Most of the time we are not mindfully connected to our sensory experience, thus causing us to miss the sensory stimulus that happened before the action, behavior or thought. Then we postulate “do thoughts come out of nowhere or are they just manifested?” In fact, that thought likely was triggered by some stimulus in your environment. Nothing happens by chance. Not even our thoughts. Emotions, activated by sensory input, are the precursor or stimulus that ignites all action!

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