..And how to master your feelings.
Emotions arise unconsciously. Just like thoughts or ideas. You have no idea what you are going to think of next. In order for you to know what you are going to think next, you would have to think it before you think it. Think about it.
Your emotions behave in the same way; they simply arise into consciousness and you become aware of them. In response to the death of a friend, no one thinks "I should be sad about this" and then becomes sad. The feeling of sadness comes from within our unconscious brain, and then we become consciously aware of it.
However, our conscious mind can have amazing impacts on how our unconscious brain operates.
For example: Don't think of a purple elephant. ... What did you think of?
What we think with our conscious brain directly effects what range of possibilities our unconscious brain has to work with for or next thought.
Similarly, our unconscious brain works to answer questions our conscious brain poses for it.
For example, try to retrieve an item from out of arms reach without moving your posture. This creativity and critical thinking comes from our unconscious brain. It wasn't apparent before that the ruler on my desk could be used to knock the object closer, or the headphones as a crude lasso but my unconscious found a solution to the problem I posed it. It answered the question.
So if I pose my brain questions like "Why does my life suck", "Why does this always happen to me", and "Why am I always sad", my brain will search around unconsciously and find answers. Answers which could include "because you're (uncoordinated/ ugly/ unpopular/ overweight/stupid), because your parents didn't give you enough attention as a kid, because they secretly resented you, because they knew you would grow up to be useless.".
When said like this and observed objectively, its obvious how illogical these thoughts are, but the brain doesn't know that. The brain doesn't function linearly, it's structured like a mesh. It will move to answer questions through connections in this mesh.
The best part is, what you think consciously, if repeated, forges these connections. Conscious learning works in this way, well guess what, so does unconscious learning.
So if you look in a mirror, see your body, and don't like what you see; The next time you look in a mirror, you'll unconsciously trigger that connection (without becoming consciously aware of it) and feel bad. And this reinforces that connection and makes it stronger.
This is the very beginning for 90% of depressive or anxiety disorders. Not all behavior like this leads to depressive disorders but the majority of depressive disorders start here.
The good thing is you can change all these connections with conscious thought.
If you look in a mirror for 30 days and think "I actually look alright" and ask yourself "Why am I so good looking?", you'll have much better self esteem at the end of it.
Once you know this secret.. the sky is the limit. Ask your brain questions you want answers to. Force connections between healthy food (or the gym) and a positive emotion (positive emotions can be produced consciously by smiling and laughing accompanied by reinforced positive internal dialogue).
This doesn't work for everything, some emotions are so overwhelming that no amount of positive repetition could reforge these connections, they are instinctual. These include, death of a family member, loss of security (home, job, money), heartbreak, etc.
Your emotions are your reality. The "truth" of emotions are the ones you come up with unconsciously. But you can significantly change what you are likely to feel unconsciously. And that's the truth.