THE THINKING PATH - PAGE THREE
From the womb and throughout our lives, we constantly acquire new thought habits as a result of our ongoing experiences. The more we experience, the more data the brain codes. The more the brain codes, the more thought habits we have. The more thought habits we have, the more we can perceive and interpret. In the end, we develop a large storehouse of thought habits that allows us to process and interpret vast amounts of data.
In the case of the sales manager, the thought habit in play was: “You always have to find something wrong. Good feelings don’t drive productivity and performance.”
One way to define feelings is as emotional and physiological manifestations experienced throughout the body. There is a great deal of debate as to which comes first, thinking or feelings. I believe thinking occurs first and feelings follow. This is supported by research that points to the fact that data is processed first in the brain and in the body triggering key organs within the center of the brain that, in turn, launch a series of chemical reactions that occur within the body to create emotional and physiological reactions.
As such, feelings provide the most reliable indicator of the characteristics of the thought habits we are generating. Insecure, chaotic, resentful thought habits generate feelings of anxiety, confusion and anger; secure, focused, composed thought habits generate feelings of clarity, calmness, and confidence.
Note that the plant manager had observable feelings—anxiety and impatience—prior to blurting out his statement. Upon further investigation, my colleague learned that as the morning went on, he began to feel anxious that the event was becoming “too much of a mutual admiration event,” and he felt a need to reign in the group. To him, his feelings of anxiety were a normal consequence of the CEO’s very positive remarks. This justified his negative statement to the workers. As he perceived the events unfolding, he was matching the incoming data to what he had archived in his brain from the past:
“Good feelings don’t drive productivity and performance.” He did not realize that his own thought habit was triggering a feeling.
The challenge is that much of the time we do not notice our thinking. By contrast, we do feel our feelings as they become manifest as emotional and physiological reactions. So we may believe that our feelings are causing us to act in certain ways, but actually we are being driven by our thought habits.
It is important to understand that it is the combination of our moment-to-moment thinking and feelings that create what we experience as reality. Whether or not we have interpreted the data correctly does not matter; our inner experience feels like reality.
The Thinking Path helps clients understand the mechanism that generates what they perceive as reality. This is important because an individual’s subjective reality may not reflect the objective situation.
Instead, it might be based upon thought habits that are questionable, unnecessarily negative, or simply untrue. If a client’s reality is based upon such thought habits, he/she may take actions that produce undesirable results.
ACTIONS AND RESULTS
One way to define actions is as the behaviors we manifest in the form of what we say and do. Our actions lead to results, which can be defined as the outcomes and achievements we produce. So each action we take produces results, and it is on the basis of our actions and results that we ultimately are assessed.
In the case of the plant manager, the action was a statement: “But why did you have the order of the products reversed in the coolers? It was embarrassing!” The result he produced was a mood of disempowerment and resignation among the workers. He may not have seen the connection between action and result, but it was unmistakable from the observer’s standpoint.