Unlock Your Mind: How Feelings Secretly Guide Your Thoughts

Imagine you’re wearing a pair of colored sunglasses – let’s say they’re blue. Everything you see through those glasses will have a blue tint. No matter how much you try to convince yourself that what you see is the actual color, the blue tint will always influence your perception.

Think of affect or mood as those colored sunglasses and cognition or thoughts as everything you see through them. If you’re in a lousy mood (wearing blue sunglasses), your thoughts (or how you see the world) will likely be influenced by that mood, making everything seem a bit ‘blue’ or negative. On the other hand, if you’re in a good mood (wearing, say, golden sunglasses), your thoughts will be tinted in a positive or ‘golden’ light.

While it’s popular nowadays to say that you can ‘think’ your way into a good mood, it’s not always that simple. Just like trying to convince yourself that the world isn’t blue while wearing blue sunglasses, it’s challenging to force positive thoughts when feeling down. This doesn’t mean it’s impossible to change your mood through thoughts, but the initial mood or affect strongly influences the direction of those thoughts.

Affect Relational Theory suggests that our emotions or moods play a significant role in shaping our thoughts. It’s like the foundation of a house – the foundation’s stability and quality influence the structure built on top. In the same way, our foundational mood or affect influences the quality and direction of our thoughts.”