Often ‘self help books' try to create change at a conscious level - so we're encouraged to change our behaviours, and that can feel like hard work! But once you understand the 6 step thinking/being cycle you will have so many more options to create positive change in your life, because as with any chain or cycle, you break the cycle at any point in order to end up with a different result. It makes logical sense that if you break the link or cycle earlier, you've made a change at a point where it is already less embedded and so you find it easier to change.
If you haven't done this recently or even at all, it's all good - this is your chance to do so! To focus on your current thinking cycle and check that it's working out for you. Let's start by utilising our imagination - or ‘mind's eye' to envision a diagram - specifically a diagram with 6 boxes each laid out in a circular formation.
At the top, representing the beginning of the cycle is a box that says ‘Values', you can imagine it now with the word ‘values' written in a bold font and colour. Simply and broadly defined, our values are the things we hold to be important. They can include what we'll call ‘classic values' such as honesty, hard work, integrity and so on, but they also include things like ‘family', ‘balance', ‘financial independence' and so on, the things we really value in our life.
So, at the top of your thought cycle is your values - it's at the top because it drives everything else we do, through your thought sequence or thinking cycle. Let's look at how that happens. Values start by first influencing our thoughts which you can picture in a box to the right and below your ‘values' box. What we hold to be important (our values) will focus us on noticing or thinking certain things. Our RAS or Reticular Activating System is triggered to search out all input and data that is relevant to us (or our values) so if we value hard work for example, our thoughts will be in part focused on driving us to work hard and reach high standards.
Our thoughts in turn drive our emotions - positive or otherwise. So, imagine ‘Emotions' in the box to the right and slightly below your ‘thoughts' box. Your emotions are step three in your thinking cycle. For example, if I value family and I perceive this value to be threatened, my thoughts will focus on that and it will drive some powerful emotions inside me.
It's really worth considering the value of emotions to our success in life, because often, in western society at least, we seem to spend a lot of energy (and ironically emotion) on trying to avoid or circumnavigate these unwanted emotions. More often than not, when we talk about emotions, we are talking about managing them - minimising them, bringing them under control.
The language we use around emotions gives us insight into their place in our society. Yet when we step back, we can consider that emotions serve some very useful purposes. All emotions serve a singular purpose - to give us an internal compass as to whether we are on track - to help us judge if everything in our world is as we believe it ought to be (according to our map of the world).
If our values are the CEO or commander of our thinking cycle, then our emotions are the mentors that challenge and check in with us along the journey. So when we feel anger, outrage, fear, sadness, jealousy, anxiety or any of the other countless so-called ‘negative emotions, all our brain is trying to do is tell us that something is not as we want it to be (according to our map).
Our emotions prompt us to act by triggering us into a fight or flight response. Literally, emotions create a physiological reaction which primes our bodies astoundingly fast to deal with our problems. The problem being that many of our stressors or challenges in today's world do not require, or at least are not best served by a physical response. So, what can we do to improve our emotional responses to workplace stressors? Two things: 1) Develop your emotional intelligence (‘EQ') to effectively and positively deal with emotional responses and 2) ask yourself what value is being challenged and what you need in order to respond more positively.
For example, if a particular person can leave you feeling frustrated and annoyed, that person is representing something that does not sit well with your values - usually due to an unresolved past event, or something they do which is ongoing. Understanding what value and why specifically is a good place to start in determining what you can do about that. This level of awareness opens up other options and ways for you to respond.
In summary, and very simply put - our values determine what we focus and our focus drives our thoughts - which then influence our emotions which affect our actions and thereby produce our results; and our results in turn reinforce or influence our beliefs that drive it all.
...Beliefs which of course, have been garnered through previous revolutions of this cycle. So, we have Values - Thoughts - emotions - actions - results - beliefs ... and so it goes.
Worth thinking about, isn't it? Stop and consider now - What beliefs and values drive you and how is that creating your life and experience?
Those are the ingredients of your life and you are the chef - adjust as needed to get the desired outcome.