I used to think that a thought was "real" and that an emotion was a command, until I learned that both are just a bit of data processed electronically and biomechanically in response to an association that can be inaccurate and based on information that is inadequate or just plain wrong. Then I learned to use my higher brain - and to base my life on facts rather than the superstition about the power of emotions!
Referring to above:
I KNOW THAT!.
The protest: "I know that. I have two master's degrees in the field."
Using rudimentary logic, I would look at the negative results you're getting and deduce that you must be believing something that causes those results. That means the belief and the "evidence" it is based on is an untrue belief - and a harmful one.
A person who really, really knows what is in the title will not behave in a manner that is other than calm and directed.
If a person is doing otherwise, he/she is giving credence and power to his/her thoughts and emotions - almost as if they have some mysterious force or power within them, one that has dominion over him/herself.
A THOUGHT IS JUST A ...
A thought is but a bunch of bits of data connected together in a neuronal pattern such that there is a "message" of some sort that normally serves some function, such as to give information to react to, plus often what to do about it. It is a rote program, running on it own, without real thinking (Level II thinking).
A meditator, for instance, will simply practice noticing that a thought pops into the mind as a seemingly random occurrence of the mind producing alternatives, and then say very objectively "oh, there's a thought" or "I have the thought that ..... It is only a thought." Learning this is one of the first lessons of Buddhism and most philosophical or life disciplines. (In fact, it is a power language method to say, instead of "I think", "I have the thought that..." - although it may sound like odd languaging.)
There is no power in a computer program, per se, even if it pops up on the screen to say "this is a threat", "get up and run". If you (higher self) "read" the message, then you get to choose - it doesn't choose you, you choose it or something else. (You won't "get this" if you don't understand Who "I" Am and System One And Two.)
AN EMOTION IS JUST A...
But what if the computer program is connected to a device that squirts chemicals that are uncomfortable or comfortable/nice and you are motivated to get out of the discomfort or into the comfort? Are you then a puppet on a string, responding without thought or sense?
No, you CAN stand the discomfort. YOU can make a decision as to what to do - such as not move, pause, figure out how to change the program, figure out how to stop the squirting for now, etc.
So, in meditation, you would have practiced "an emotion is just an emotion". "There it goes, passing by, not killing me. And I notice the sensation and it is just a sensation. I notice if it is comfortable or uncomfortable and to what degree." "The emotions just happen and then go on, without damage." "Yes, I could choose to go into fear and then get the rest of the chemicals and the body in a turmoil, but I choose to add nothing to it. I choose. I am here. I am invincible. And it will pass."
"An emotion is just an emotion." "An emotion is just a bunch of chemicals which cause sensations in my body. Sensations are just sensations. I need not tighten up and get in an uproar, for they, too, will pass. I am the one in control here." [When properly schooled in this, you will identify the "I" not as your personality or things associated with you, but the actual permanent essence part, the higher thinking brain and its consciousness.]
AND IF I'M ASTUTE...
If I am astute about the brain and the body systems, I know that these are just bits of data with various significances attached, in the form of what might be considered signals. (Contributing toward that would be: How You And Your Brain/Body Operate (a 20 page overview).
I note the signal (if it is significant enough to come to my attention or I 'look' intentionally) and then I decide what needs to be done or not done.
I do not turn the decision over to System One (or the lower brain) to cycle over and over about, not making good decisions. I am especially careful not to let it continue evaluating and creating false threats. If there is something to be dealt with, I deal with it or set a time to deal with it.
I take it off the hands of the workers in System One. I will not let them get into a tizzy and push all the alarms and kick me into an exhausting, damaging fight/flight response.
I discriminate and note that I need mobilize the fight/flight mechanisms only if there is actual physical danger. I can have the "power troops" calmly handle everything else that is needed, without harmful chemicals being emitted and not burned off. I know that the human body is designed to fight or flee an actual threat and that the action burns off the chemicals emitted to get me prepared for effective action - and when those chemicals are burned off they are not toxic. If they aren't burned off, they can be toxic. I make sure they are not emitted in the first place if not needed.
I institute stopping mechanisms (The Pause; The Time Out Tool) such as breathing deeply and stopping the repetition of the danger thought (or I debunk it as no big deal or as a falsehood). If I can't do the latter, I stop the thought by using my thought stopping mechanism (Stopping The Negative Conversation Spiral) and being clear that I need not entertain that thought since there is no payoff to doing so. I do not give it to the Worry machine to spiral it all up into a frenzy; it is stopped, period and/or stuffed back down if it pops up from the workers below, telling them to calm down, that there is no real danger. (Of course, I need to be able to discriminate as to what is real danger, what is a real threat. Embarrassment or rejection is not a real threat. Know what "real" means. Learn it: The Reality Conundrum. Reality is only the physical, observable and not the mental constructs (thoughts), as they are only representations made up about reality.)
I repeat: You MUST stop (or replace) the cycling and/or negative thought process if you know it will get you nowhere! (Except "down".) This is not something to partially learn or to do once in a while. It is something to do constantly, never tolerating such crap to go on!
So YOU decide if the signal is worthy of a "go" or "no go" and proceed accordingly, never believing what is "made up" or at least never keeping on entertaining and/or repeating the thought. That thought is stopped. Forbidden. Not necessary.
And you know that repeating something that is rote over and over is not a road to solution, although the System One might still adhere to that strategy, but without good results.