Dr. Ken Larsen
Dr. Glasser has taught us about total behavior. Total behavior explains how the components of our behavior intertwine and affect each other. Our actions, our thinking, our physiology and our emotions are all wired together so that each one can have an impact on the others. For instance, a person feeling sad and lonely may not be able to change his emotion of sadness. He can, however, choose an action, like a phone call, that would put him in touch with a friend. This contact could have a positive impact on his lonely, sad emotion.
Our thinking patterns have a strong impact on the other parts of our total behavior. Thinking I am inadequate for a given task might limit the actions I take. Thinking anxious thoughts can have an impact on both our emotions and our physiology.
I was once visiting with a Trappist monk. We were talking about the problem of controlling our thoughts. He commented that controlling our thoughts is like trying to control the wind. They both go wherever they want to go.
Are we powerless over our thought patterns? I don’t know that we can have control, like an on and off switch, but I do think we can do some thinking about our thinking in order to make some choices.
I like the work “metacognition” which means “thinking about our thinking.” We can describe what we call “thinking” in terms of our interpretation of what is going on in the real world outside ourselves. We take in information through our senses, which is then interpreted by our previous experience, our learning, our beliefs and values. This then becomes our thinking or our perception. Those perceptions may be helping us get what we want in life, or they may be keeping us from getting what we want.
If our thoughts are self-defeating we can sort of step out of ourselves and take a look at what is going on in our thoughts and perceptions. As we get a better insight into what is shaping undesirable thoughts we can make some choices that would lead to change.
This graphic is a good illustration of this process of metacognition. The events of the real world go through the lens of the camera, which represents our senses. The image inside the camera is constructed by the camera mechanism. This internal image represents our perceptions. These perceptions are what drive the behavioral choices we make. The Starchild is that part of us that can step back outside of ourselves and look at what is happening in our life. As insights are gained through this process, choices can be made to move us toward a more preferred experience of life. Through this process we may even come to recognize that some of our perceptions are not a true representation of our real world. They may seem real, but we want to know if they are true.
This is only a very limited and simplified explanation of a very powerful and helpful ability we have been given. There is more and more information coming out on the benefits of “metacognition.” You may see the connection between what I’m calling “metacognition” and “mindfulness”. I encourage you to learn as much as you can to move toward your preferred future.