Wouldn’t it be nice if we could choose our behaviors – if we could do exactly what we envision doing every day in every circumstance. The truth is, however, our behavior is more often out of our control than under our control.
Why Can’t I be 100% in Control of My Actions?
Against our best intentions, our Actual Behavior – our daily actions – are not in line with our Desired Behaviors; and at times, not only “not in line with,” but also completely derailed and we do things we are committed NOT to do…
Our habitual thought patterns are essential factors that ultimately impact how we behave. Raising your awareness of these thinking patterns can help you evaluate objectively whether there is congruency between your behavior and values – you will see the gap between your Desired Behaviors and Actual Behaviors. Once you identify your thought patterns you can set the course for your thoughts that encourage the desired outcome.
For example, if a man decides that he no longer will use mood-altering substances, he would raise his consciousness around the past thoughts that triggered his use. If stress were a trigger to drink or to use drugs, next time this trigger would arise, he would have the option to use disciplined action and redirect his thoughts and behaviors. Many also have in place an emergency plan, with specific steps to take, to help him avoid acting on autopilot and giving in to his self-destructive/ or UNWANTED habit.
It is crucial to understand that human beings cannot control every thought which enters their mind. I would look skeptically at any person claiming they have that ability. For most of us, wanted, unwanted, and neutral thoughts constantly enter our minds throughout the day, depending on the what we do and where we are – watching TV, walking down the street, etc..
The discipline comes in not by eliminating unwanted thoughts but recognizing when they arise and redirecting one’s attention elsewhere. It is the understanding that whatever one allows to linger in the mind will grow.
What recurring thoughts do you notice that are not serving your ideal way of life? What thoughts do you notice sneaking up on you that go against your wanted behaviors and perhaps regularly derail you from your commitments, regardless of whether they are commitments to do or not do certain things?
In the coming days and weeks take conscious effort to notice these thoughts and identify what triggers them. In the next part we’ll explore how to build on this raised awareness of your unwelcomed thoughts.