Friday, July 26, 2013

Do Your Beliefs and Behaviors Ever Clash?

What does it mean when our behaviors don't reflect our beliefs? It means it's time to re-visit what we believe.

Beliefs change. This usually surprises us because we invest a good deal of energy into identifying what we believe about anything. When beliefs and behaviors contrast, the typical response or reaction is to manage or attempt to manage the behaviors. But what does that really do? Solely managing a behavior not in alignment with a belief puts us into a form of self-denial, if we don't also look at the belief.

Why do we hold beliefs? They act as a guidance system for us, an internal GPS (Global Positioning System) that helps us follow our path throughout the moments of our lives. If we have head and heart alignment with our beliefs, they can serve us. If we don't, meaning we just give lip-service to them, they merely act as a corral to keep our true feelings inside. If contrasts between beliefs and behaviors arise, there is something we can do. We can ask a series of questions.

What changed? This has to be addressed at both inner and outer levels. One level does not change without affecting the other. Determine where the change originated that created the contrast: inner or outer. Once you know where it started, it will lead you to identify what influence it had at the other level. Once you identify these changes, you can ask the following questions.

What do I want instead? This comes directly from knowing what you don't want, which is, at the root of this, the actual discomfort you feel from the inner- and outer-level contrast. Most people believe they want something specific to change so they can feel in balance or better than they do. Feelings come from within. They are not a result of circumstances, but of choices we make about how to feel about anyone or anything, in any moment. If you know how you prefer to feel, you can determine what you need to do at the inner and outer levels to get to that feeling. However, the resolution of this will be long-lasting only if you have head and heart alignment about this.

How committed are you to doing whatever it takes to create more of what you want? If all you are engaged in is wishful thinking, nothing substantial will change. Wishful thinking has a constant companion: noisy dialogue, whether in our heads or to anyone who will listen. Commitment has energy, and as author Kurt Wright said, is a magnet. There is inner conversation as you ask yourself right questions, but then there is action, much more action than dialogue, when you have commitment.

Most inner- and outer-level struggles result from people not knowing what it is they want, being afraid to admit what it is they want, or being afraid to take action needed to create what they want. This is not living. Most of us are extravagant about how much time we think we have in life. And, we mistakenly think that life is about what we accomplish rather than what we feel about ourselves and every moment, and what we contribute to each moment. Accomplish what you want; but make your goal to feel what you want to feel about you in relation to the entire process from start to middle to end.

When all is said and done, whether at the end of a goal or the end of a lifetime, what do you want to feel about yourself, the outcome, and the experiences that got you there? Was it an impoverished inner experience or a richly-textured one? Were you serene more than not, joyful more than not, enthusiastic more than not, loving and caring more than not, trusting of Source more than not? Did you seek and find head and heart alignment more than not, and so on? Did you choose one feeling over another, with conscious awareness? Did you pay attention to contrasts between your beliefs and your behaviors, and address this to restore harmony in you, your life, and your relationships? Did you choose what you wanted to feel about yourself, say, to remain in integrity, before you spoke or took action, at least, as often as you could do this? These choices are always yours. Be deliberate about your choices. It’s a good practice; one you’ll appreciate.   

Practice makes progress.
© Joyce Shafer

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