Every decision you’ve made and action you’ve taken in the past, has been due to the priority AT THE TIME of making that decision. Whenever we choose one option over another, we weigh everything up against our beliefs and the information we have and decide what works best AT THAT TIME.
Behind every decision, there is always an intention to maintain our life’s worth, or our self-worth.
Now that may seem like a really bold statement to make, as it makes us sound like very selfish creatures. You may argue that you often put yourself last and do things for others when you would preferred to have been self-indulgent. It may seem to you that this statement about our intention being about ourselves, is wrong. However, when you really look behind the reasons why you choose something, it will always come back to the payoff you get for making that decision.
For example, you may constantly do huge amounts for your children, keep a clean house and invest loads of time do everything for everyone else. Logically you would much prefer to just sit down and put your feet up, rather than do these things. So on the surface it’s difficult to see that your intention has anything to do with your self-worth or your life’s value.
But look closer and you will find that there is indeed something in it for you. When asked why you would do these things when you don’t really want to, your answer may be because:
- That’s what mums do and I want to be a good mum.
- If it doesn’t get done then the house will be a mess and that’s unhygienic to me and my kids.
- I want my kids to have a good life.
- I like it when things are in order.
All of these reasons have your best interests at heart. All of the beliefs we have are rated on how important they are. Your belief on keeping a clean house and therefore defining you as a ‘good mum’, is rated as more important than sitting down and putting your feet up. Even though that is what you would like to do, you don’t do it because cleaning the house and maintaining your ‘good mum’ status (in your mind) is the priority AT THAT TIME.
It works a bit like this diagram below:
You can see that keeping the house clean is the overall priority that makes you feel like a worthy, valuable person and that putting your feet up and relaxing comes a close second.
Although you have overall beliefs that this ‘should’ be the case, this order of priorities can easily change. Let’s say you have been having a particularly rough day with the kids. They have been fighting, crying, whinging, you’ve not stopped picking up after them, you’ve had very little sleep from the night before and you are exhausted. In the middle of the day, you find that one child is having their day nap and the other is fully engrossed in playing with her dolls. You might think to yourself “I deserve a break”. IN THIS MOMENT your priorities changed. Suddenly, your rated beliefs looks like this:
This is because your mind assessed the CURRENT situation and based on the INFORMATION you had AT THAT TIME, you assessed that you are tired and exhausted now and in order to feel good again (worthy/valuable) then your priority was to relax and put your feet up while you could. This time the house cleaning came second, even though you would rate housework as a top priority normally.
We only ever make decisions based on the information we have AT THE TIME of the event, and we always take the priority belief that has been activated as the most important one AT THAT TIME. Every decision you have ever made and every behaviour that you have ever displayed, has came from a priority that you had which was governed by your beliefs.
If you are mistreated by somebody over a period of time, there is a priority for you to be putting up with it. If your kids are taking advantage of you, then you have a priority for continually allowing them to take advantage of you. Perhaps in some way it validates your worth for them to need you so much. Perhaps, your priority triangle looks like this:
Because of beliefs you have about your current self-worth and how it is defined, you believe that your worth is determined by other people’s behaviours. Seeing evidence that others need you makes you feel wanted. Getting approved of by others makes you feel good about yourself. With these two self-worth beliefs running, you are always going to choose and allow behaviours that are going to make you feel good.
Your priority for letting the kids disrespect you or your husband, as the case may be, may come from this need to feel wanted and approved of. It’s not that you don’t want to be respected, because you do. That is a priority on this list too , however it is superseded by your rating that it is more important for the survival of your self-worth for you to feel wanted and approved of.
This is only an example of the beliefs that may be causing your current situation to continue to occur, however it illustrates how IN EVERY MOMENT we are always operating in the best interests of ourselves (giving us a payoff) and operating through our priority beliefs – that is what we rate as the most important AT THAT TIME. This can continually change depending on the situation, the current information that you have at the time and your assessment of the situation.
Here’s one more example to illustrate this point:
It may be a priority for you to have a clean house when your husband comes home from work. However you get a telephone call from a friend who is upset and you have a decision to make in that moment. Do I tell her I can’t talk as I have to clean the house, or do I stop what I’m doing and give her some support? Your beliefs about either option will determine which way you go because there will always be a priority belief activated IN THAT MOMENT that will dictate which option you choose. Perhaps the clean house makes you feel like a good wife and mother, and on the other hand, being able to support and help your friend makes you feel like a good person.
In both scenarios, there is a payoff for you to be feeling good, but which one do you go for? It all depends on which one holds more importance in your mind IN THAT MOMENT – feeling like a good, supportive friend or feeling like a good wife and mother?
It’s possible that in hindsight we can regret our decisions. We receive new information as time goes on and then find that perhaps a different decision might have been a better way to go. But you didn’t know that information then, or it wasn’t a priority in that moment. You only ever know what you know at any given moment, and when you make a decision you assess the situation according to your current beliefs and the current information you have. This current information that I keep talking about comes in the form of what you get from your senses (eg what you see, what you hear etc), from the memories you have, learning that you have received from past experiences and any other beliefs that seem to link to what is currently happening in your present situation. Very quickly, the brain assesses all of these things and determines what you believe about the situation and how to respond.
You can only ever have the information you do at any given moment to help you to make the best choice IN THAT MOMENT – that is, the choice that’s going to be in your best interests.
The more you can become aware of your thinking and the beliefs that drive your choices, the more objective or deliberate you can be about making decisions. We can use this information about priority beliefs when making your choices as to how you are going to start achieving your goals.
You are at where you are at in your life because of how everything has unfolded in the past leading up to now. Some of this was enjoyable, some of it was not. What we are trying to do now, is deliberately set aims for the way we would like our lives to be and gather new information that will take us to these aims.
Throughout this whole Mind TRACK to Happiness process, we are always looking at how we are thinking and trying to align it with the reality thinking model. We are trying to keep our thoughts in alignment with the reality of the situation (what is actually happening), the reality of being a parent (the ups and downs, the learning we get and the normal development of our children), the reality of life (its ups and downs, how we learn and grow, finding the hidden good in the bad etc) and finally the reality of self-worth (understanding that your worth comes from your existence, because you are here alive in this world contributing who you are and what you know, learning more and then contributing more of what you’ve learnt through your interactions with others. Other people’s development depends on your influence in their lives and your development depends on their contributions to your life. This is what defines the reality of self-worth).
When using this choices step of the TRACK process, it is important to assess what you are thinking about the options that you are considering when working towards your aim. There will be beliefs that drive you to choose one option over another. There will be beliefs that disregard one option in favour of another. There will be beliefs that will reject an option you have, that may just be the very option that works.
By consciously assessing what we think about our options, what our priorities are for choosing one option over another and what our opinions are about our options, and then assessing whether this thinking is in conflict with reality, or even if it is in conflict with our bigger picture aims, we can objectively decide on the best course of action to take.
Assessing your options.
So far this week, you have begun to look into some options/solutions for getting you closer to your aims and now it’s time to look closer at these potential solutions and consider whether they are the solutions that will help you and your particular situation.
What I have been teaching you to do in this week’s lesson so far, is educate yourself on what can be done to solve your problems. You got to where you currently are with the information that you currently had. You cannot know more than you currently do and when you give yourself more information, you can then make different decisions. This is what I want you to start doing – realise that you had certain information that led you to making decisions in the past and right now is where it has led you. You now require more information that will lead you to someplace else.
For example, let’s say that you have children who yell, fight, speak to you rudely and generally have no respect for you or their things. Understand that this has been taught to them over time and kids will not change unless they are taught to change. By the same token, there is a reason why you have allowed them to behave in this way. You may say that you didn’t know how to stop it, and that’s fine, but if you want to change their behaviour, you must learn how to stop it. Not knowing how to change something is no excuse for leaving it the way that it is. Learn how to implement change, then apply it to your life.
Also, there has been a priority for why you have not sought out the information that you needed to make these changes until now. Perhaps at some level you don’t want to give them discipline because you are scared that they won’t love you. Perhaps you had a strong disciplinarian in your family and you swore that you were never going to be that way. This may be your priority belief for letting your kids run amok in your house.
Behind every choice, circumstance or behaviour, there is a priority belief behind it, and it will always come back to you and what your pay off is (that is how it benefits your self-worth or quality of life). If you want to change, then look at why you do the things that you do and consciously look at what your beliefs are about the potential choices, options and solutions that you have for overcoming a situation or problem.
So now that you have a list of potential solutions to your problem, it’s now time to assess them and think about which options you are happy to give a go and which ones you are going to ditch.
In your workbooks, create two columns and write on one side, all of the options that you would like to use, and on the other side, the options that you would not like to use.
Take the column of options that you want to use and write down your answers to the following questions:
Do all of these options align with my bigger picture aims?
What steps you take next, is not just about solving your problem and achieving your situation’s aims. You want to think bigger. In last week’s lessons, you created an outline of the LIFE that you want to live. If you want to live that life, then everything that you do in your life needs to start aligning to this bigger picture. You have to start thinking like a person who really wants to create their ideal life and you need to start taking action towards having that life. If any of your options do not align with your bigger picture aims, then they need to be revisited.
What reservations do you have about any of your aims? What are your ‘buts’ when it comes to the thought of implementing these options into your life? (for example, ‘but I won’t have time to do that’)
What can you do to overcome this ‘but’?
Think about ways to get around your road block of thoughts. Self-doubt is bound to kick in when you are trying to change things in your life, so it is important to keep challenging your thinking and finding ways to overcome what your mind sees as a problem (for example, ‘but I won’t have time’ may become ‘so I will write up a schedule to incorporate all that I need to do, including these options’). Write down as many ways as you can for overcoming this objection to any of the options you would like to use. If you get stuck, perhaps you need to do some more research in how to overcome this block. This is all part of gathering the information you need to make changes.
What is your payoff (motive, priority) for choosing these options?
Assess what you’re thoughts are about using these options that you have listed. What are your opinions? What do you expect the outcome to be for using these options and how will it benefit you? Asking this question will highlight any misaligned thinking or thinking that is in conflict with the reality of true self-worth (for example, ‘make him realise that what he’s doing is wrong’ – this is all about making you right and him wrong, which is counterproductive and could potentially cause more conflict. After honestly assessing your payoff for using this option and realising that it was not helpful, you may then change it to something like ‘align with him on how we can both agree on what to do about this situation’.)
Do these options motivate, excite me and/or encourage me? If any of these options don’t do this for you, then perhaps its not the right option to use. You want to feel like the options you choose for achieving your aim are going to work for you. If you don’t feel excited about trying these things, then it is unlikely that you will do what you need to do in order to implement them into your life. You want to be inspired to take action otherwise you will stay stuck where you currently are and nothing will change.
Take the column of options that you would not like to use and write down your answers to the following questions:
What are your opinions/beliefs about why these options won’t work?
Take notice of what you are thinking about these options. Why have you disregarded them? What are your reasons?
What is the payoff (motive, priority) for not choosing these options?
How does disregarding these options relate to your self-worth? You would have disregarded these options for a reason that is in your best interests. Identify what this reason is and how it relates to what you believe about your self-worth or your quality of life?
As we continue through this week’s lessons you will get to see examples of how these steps are used, so don’t be concerned if all of this seems like a lot of questions or you don’t really know how to answer these, because you will get an opportunity later on in the week to see how this whole Choices step is being used with examples that relate to motherhood.
After answering these questions and assessing your beliefs on the options that you have chosen (and the options you have not), write your complete list of all the options that you are going to use in order to take you on your journey towards your aims.
By following this process of assessing your aims, you are consciously and honestly weighing up which option or options are the best ones for you. Without carefully considering your options and what you believe about them, you could randomly choose the first option you find. Even though this may be the most logical option to choose, it may not align with other aspects of your belief system or with your bigger picture aims. This could result in you sabotaging your progress towards meeting your aims. Logic very rarely has anything to do with getting you to your aims. It all comes down to the underlying beliefs you hold about life and what you believe is the ‘right way’ to live. Sometimes your logic and your beliefs match, but often they don’t, so consciously challenging why you would choose a course of action to overcome your problem will highlight where your mindset is at in regards to that choice.
You may find that when you do this, you might just choose different options than might have otherwise been overlooked. You might also uncover beliefs (or memes) that are in conflict with reality and need to be upgraded with the reality thinking model.
Over the next two days, I am going to use examples of common problems that parents encounter, and show you how you apply the information I have taught you over this week so far, so that you can begin assessing your options and deciding what’s right for you and your circumstances.
All of this is leading into next week’s lessons where we discuss Step Five of the TRACK Process: Know your plan, where I will teach you how to take these options and formulate them into a do-able, easy to follow plan of action.