When I was young I thought everyone had off during summers. Wouldnt that be nice?!?
The source of my disillusionment? My parents were both full time educators. The entire family had off during the summer.
Us kids (my older brother and sister….yes, Im the baby!) and my parents often took road trips during our long summer holidays.
We would hop in the car for a good ol fashioned road trip. Remember those fantastic moments?!?
“Snuggled” together in the back seat for hours and hours of fun. My sister would talk me into giving her foot massages for quarters. It was a good business trade; I needed some money to play video games at the rest stops!! Back in my day there were no iPhone 6 and the fanciest handheld device was Nintendo GameBoy.
Summer time brings many families into the car and onto the road. In fact, at this very moment, my family and I are “on the road” in Romania with our neighbors. They invited us to come and visit their home country. We will be spending one full week near the Black Sea to experience the Danube River delta. The following week staying in the village where they lived within a valley of the Carpathian mountains. A short trip to Transylvania for a visit to Count Dracula!!
The next 4 Axioms of Choice Theory connect quite well with road trips. In teaching Choice Theory we use an analogy of a car when talking about a concept, “Total Behaviour.” The subject of Axioms 7 through 10:
- All we do is behave.
- All behaviour is Total Behaviour and is made up of four components, thinking, acting, feeling, and physiology
- All behaviour is chosen, but we only have direct control over our thinking and acting component. We can indirectly control our feeling and physiology only by the choices we make in our acting and thinking.
- All total behaviour is identified in verb forms and named after the component that it is most recognized by (running, angering, stressing, criticizing, depressing, etc.)
These four axioms, if left alone, can really get people scratching their heads!!
Choice Theory refers to behaviour as “Total Behaviour”. Total behavior consists of 4 different but very much connected components.
- Thinking (our thoughts, ideas, beliefs, self talk, etc.)
- Doing (actions, physical movements, gestures, facial expressions, things we can observe)
- Feelings (the wide and various range of emotions we experience)
- Physiology (bodily functions and biological patterns we can’t control such as digestion, heartbeat and pulse rate, sweating just to name a few)
According to Choice Theory we are always behaving and this behaviour is always “total.” This means that all four components are happening at the same time.
Just as a car’s four wheels move all at the same time when you’re driving.
When we first step on the gas there is a slight moment where the front wheels begin to spin before the back wheels. Imagine that our car represents Total Behaviour. The front wheels represent our Thinking and Doing components. The back wheels, our Feelings and Physiology.
The engine of our car represents our 5 basic needs (love & belonging, freedom, power, fun, and survival). These human needs are fueling our car and move us along the road.
When we turn our steering wheel we are making a CHOICE. Even a slight adjustment of our steering wheel can have a dramatic change down the “road of life”. When we adjust the steering wheel we make changes to our front wheels direction. Our Thinking and Doing components.
Our Doing and Thinking components of our Total Behaviour are the easiest for us to change
This explains those moments when you were becoming upset (or in choice theory terms, “angering”), choose to DO something different (making a choice to focus on your Doing component) and as a result noticed that you were feeling and thinking differently soon after. We can not change one component without changing the others. For example, if we change our thinking component we will also change our acting, feeling, and physiology component.
Act confident long enough and you will begin to think, feel, and experience the bodily sensations of “confidencing”. Ever heard the famous Alcoholics Anonymous (AA) expression, “Fake it till you make it.” Those AA guys and gals had some Choice Theory wisdom!!
Normally we are more aware of one particular component, resulting in that component getting more focus. “Running” for example. We focus on the “doing” component and don’t consider the thinking, feelings, and physiology occurring.
Another example, “Stressing”, is often perceived as a feeling. The negative feeling(s) that come with “stressing” are strong and bring powerful physical (physiological) behaviours as well (i.e., sweating, increased heart rate, stomach ache, etc.). Because of the focus on the feeling (and physiology) we go unaware of the acting and thinking components occurring simultaneously. When “stressing” our thoughts are negative, such as “I can’t do this” or “this is awful, I’m not going to be ok.” Our actions may be pacing back and forth, hands on our heads and staring down at the floor.
I always find it helpful when I can use an analogy of something basic (the car) to help explain a complex concept (total behaviour). I’m hopeful that you’ve found the “car analogy” both interesting and helpful. Its my aim that in understanding total behaviour, my readers will find making changes more possible.
Speaking of change. One area that my family and I decided we would make a change at was our use of electronic devices, internet, and phones. Rather than make a small adjustment to our “steering” we are really planning to jerk the wheel!!
We decided to take our two week vacation UNPLUGGED. Meaning, we left our electronic devices behind. Two weeks dedicated to time in nature and with each other away from electronics!
I challenge you to take on the UNPLUGGED CHALLENGE. See what happens when you turn off the devices and turn on some new and creative total behaviours.
More on this unplugged business next week….