Visual representaion of behavioral thinking

Behavior – it’s like driving a car

That might sound philosophical – but have you thought about why we do what we do?  And how we act a certain way upon a situation?

We often find ourselves saying “whatever was happening left me with no choice but to act this way”, or “someone triggered me to do this”.  Are our behaviors really beyond our control?

According to psychologists, that’s not true.  We always have a choice over how we behave.

Psychiatrist Dr. William Glasser offers a different way of thinking about our behavior.  Dr. Glasser believes that “All behavior is purposeful” – a decision we made using all the resources (e.g. knowledge, experience, skills, etc.) that were available to us at that time.  According to Dr. Glasser, all behavior is “Total Behavior” that is made up of four components:

  • Acting
  • Thinking
  • Feeling
  • Physiology

These components act like the four wheels of a car.  When one wheel moves, the others follow and the car (resulting behavior) shifts to a new direction.  Some counsellors simply call this theory as “Total Behavior Car” in their practice.

We certainly do not have full control over our physiological functions and feelings, but we can manage them by changing how we think and how we act.  These two “wheels” are completely up to us.  Using this “Total Behavior Car” theory, we can then shift how we feel both physically and emotionally by doing and thinking things differently.

Here is one perfect way to try this out – next time when you have a bad day, rather than employing your usual coping strategy, try to do something you enjoy, and focus on it.  You will realize that feeling of “having a bad day” slips away much quicker!

You can find out more about “Total Behavior Car” here and here

Posted in Monthly Musings.

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