“Why did I say that? What was I Thinking?”

Friday, September 8, 2023

This is sadly a familiar experience for most of us.  Something that feels threatening happens and it triggers an automatic, impulsive reaction. What you said, didn’t come from your best and more mature self.  It didn’t produce the result you wanted.

With 20-20 hindsight and cooled down emotion, you can think of better ways to respond, that would have been far more successful.  

Often these impulsive responses are described as bad habits, e.g., “I have a bad habit of getting angry when…”, “I have a bad habit of avoiding situations when…” Habits, by their very nature, are ways of thinking and behaving that the brain has made automatic, outside of our awareness.

When things don’t go the way you hoped or intended, there is an alternative to browbeating yourself with the rhetorical question, “Why did I say that? I know better!” You can discover the specific, below conscious, thinking habits that are getting in the way of what you want. Imagine what would be different in your business, life, or career, if you knew which thinking habit caused you to make an error in judgement?  Then, even better, what if you could switch into your best thinking and instantly open different, more effective ways of responding?

You can do this using the process of Self-Leadership. Its focus is on noticing and directing your own thinking.  You can recognize when you feel your biased, automatic thinking taking over and then purposefully shift to your inner wisdom instead.  While the complete process involves an assessment (VQ Profile) which identifies your own unique, good, and biased thinking habits, here are some general ways you can start practicing right away.

Tip 1

The process starts with identifying something important you want to achieve—something that will create greater value for you and those important to you. Contrary to what many people believe, the key to success is not to focus on the goal and the action steps, but rather, to focus primarily on developing the attributes required to achieve the goal (purpose). You can express these in terms of what personal attributes need to BE MORE and which need to BE LESS to be capable of accomplishing what you want.

For example, if you want to complete a difficult assignment, you might need to be:

·     more disciplined and less distractible

·     more confident and less self-doubting

·     more positive and less complaining

By keeping these attributes intentionally front and center, you may well notice yourself starting to acquire them.

Tip 2

A second strategy to pull out of the BE LESS  thinking habit and move closer to your BE MORE  good thinking, is to regularly ask yourself, what is termed, the Central Question.

What choice can I make, and action can I take in this moment to create the greatest net value? In this moment thinking, shifts from just yourself to what will bring the greatest benefit to those impacted by your choice (including yourself).

Curious to learn more?