By Daniel Bobinski, M.Ed.
No matter what happens in the nation, our state, our city or our workplace, there’s one thing over which we have complete control, and that’s our response. We can choose to be proactive or reactive, and those choices will have positive or negative ripple effects; but our choices are always in our control.
Let’s talk about the arena of choices and where we have control. One book that radically changed my life more than 35 years ago was “Control Theory,” by William Glasser, M.D. He later re-wrote the book, calling it “Choice Theory,” but the principles remained: We have more and better control over our lives if we make healthy choices.
The four arenas identified by Glasser are our physiology, our feelings, our thoughts and our actions.
In Glasser’s “Choice Theory,” he postulates that other than food and exercise, we have little control over our physiology. Our heart wants to beat no matter what and our lungs want to draw air no matter what. Our body knows how to process chemicals to help us digest food and respond to physical injury, and our body does this all on its own. No choices are needed for any of that to happen.
We also have emotions. We have some control over our emotional state, but not much. I’m oversimplifying, but emotions simply tend to occur.
Beyond that is our thoughts. We have a lot more control over our thoughts than we do our emotions, but still, some thoughts just happen whether we want them or not.
Finally, the one thing we have total control over is our behavior. Outside of reflexes, our actions occur because of our choices. We choose to stand up. We choose to shower. We choose to brush our teeth. We choose to answer the phone.
One important thing to know is that a chain of impact occurs within these four arenas. Our actions affect our thoughts, our thoughts affect our feelings and our feelings affect our physiology. For example, you might notice that when you’re feeling bad, that feeling might be hard to change. But since our thoughts affect our feelings, we can impact our feelings if we change our thoughts. But if you’ll remember, we don’t have total control over our thoughts.
What we do have control over is our actions. And, since our actions affect our thoughts and our thoughts affect our feelings, if we choose to proactively change our behavior in a positive way, we will have better thoughts, which, in turn, helps us have better feelings.
The key to success in all of that? Making wise choices.
By proactively thinking through the ripple effects of your choices, you can identify actions that will lead to better thoughts which then lead to better feelings. Why is that important? Because feeling bad will affect your physiology in a bad way, too.
Let me close with a quote from the late Stephen Covey: “We are not a product of what has happened to us in our past. We have the power of choice.”
Daniel Bobinski, M.Ed. is a best-selling author and a popular speaker at conferences and retreats. For more than 30 years he’s been working with teams and individuals (1:1 coaching) to help them achieve excellence. He was also teaching Emotional Intelligence since before it was a thing. Reach Daniel through his website, MyWorkplaceExcellence.com, or his office at 208-375-7606.