There is an underlying sequence inside a person which ultimately demonstrates itself in the behaviour exhibited by their lives. We are often confronted with words out of a mouth that say one thing leaving an impression and quite a different story in what the person actually does. Always go with the outer evidence, not the words in developing your understanding of their reality.
My friend David Morgan, who I count as a world-class presenter taught me a process of the inner mechanisms that lead to behaviour. And not incidentally my experience is that he is one of the ones whose life backs up his words.
Here is his take. I might explain it differently than he would but here is the essence. I might look for some minor tweaks but not the core concepts.
All outer behaviour starts with the inner activities of the soul or we might say the brain. Perhaps over time, we will find there is more of our essence in other parts of our bodies than the impulses from the brain. But for now, we understand the neurotransmitting hormones of the brain fire up our personalities. There are over 60 known chemicals emitting from the brain and science is just starting to get a grasp on that. Behind the chemistry are the ideations that signal their release. But that is not the point of the process I am describing here.
Simply put, behaviour is the stuff we do. That is all we need to understand at this point. But then we don’t fully grasp why we are prone to do one thing when we say another. We find it easier to make a promise to ourselves than we do to act it out. That is because we are all messed up on the inside. Read on.
When we “go with our gut” we are in perilous territory. Our emotions hit us with a flow of those hormones I just mentioned and take us on a ride. Our feelings are informed by other elements behind the scenes that we must explore before we can hope to understand what is going on. Living based on the feelings of the moment is the genesis of all kinds of bad behaviour.
Attitudes lie just under the surface. They may be secret to others and more alarmingly even secret to ourselves if we don’t delve into the process deeply. Attitudes are tricky because we may not be self-aware enough to see them. If we buy into the common thread of thinking that we are “special” we are in danger of believing that we are entitled to a different set of rules that the rest of humankind. If we think we have paid our dues and now deserve a softer ride we have an attitude that will lead to the conclusion that life is not fair.
Thoughts produce attitudes. If we think in a certain way we will develop an attitude that is consistent with those thoughts. For example, if we think our family of origin is where it is in the world because of a series of good choices, we will think our heritage is superior to others and therefore we are superior too. If we think our family of origin was totally messed up we will think the world owes us compensation for the wrongs passed on to us. Such hidden thoughts must be willfully corrected or an attitude will develop that takes us on a roller coaster ride of feelings that ultimately leave us off the rails.
Beliefs are stubborn. It is very easy to stick to a belief and never consider the fact that our beliefs could be mistaken. Many people live in deep frustration that the world around them doesn’t share their belief. If you believe your time is worth more than the people who purchase your time you will live a life of regret. If your time is actually worth more than you are being paid you will have to find someone who agrees with you. You won’t change the system to line up with your desired pay scale. That is a simple illustration. But in every case what you believe about how things should be won’t change others just because you think they should change. When you get your own universe you get to make the rules.
Every person was programmed and continues to be programmed. To change the default way in which beliefs and all the other preceding elements operate you have to examine how you are programmed. You have what has become default programming. Who says your view of gender roles represents reality? Where did you get the notion that you were entitled to “free” this-or-that? Why should you be the one with a roof over your head when others suffer through hurricanes? Why should you live in a land of opportunity and others grow up in say, Southern Sudan? Examine your programming from top to bottom. It is the root of your behaviour.
Every one of us has noise in our heads. Many people don’t grasp the reality that we control that noise. We have the capacity to reject one thought and adopt another. We have the ability and the responsibility to give ourselves a talking to every day. We all need a regular mental tune-up. We can do better on that tune-up earlier in the day when we are more rested. Sometimes the tune-up needs to be ongoing moment by moment to break down the programming and wrongly-held beliefs. Everything flows from what we tell ourselves about life and the world around us. The key is to control the buzz of ideas in our heads. That buzz creates our actions.
But then how will we know how to direct the self-talk? Self-talk drives our bus whether we know it or not. You may have noticed that I have failed to support the foregoing points with Scripture. I leave that up to you. But I must finish with the fact that everyone chooses their self-talk based on something. The wise person chooses Scripture. The following few verses speak for themselves. Start with God talk; let it penetrate your inner self; adopt the concepts because they are true. Then others will notice your improved behaviour.
Psalm 119:9-11 “How can a young person stay on the path of purity? By living according to your word. I seek you with all my heart; do not let me stray from your commands. I have hidden your word in my heart that I might not sin against you.”
Psalm 119:105 “Your word is a lamp for my feet, a light on my path.”
Proverbs 4:20-27 “My son, pay attention to what I say; turn your ear to my words. Do not let them out of your sight, keep them within your heart; for they are life to those who find them and health to one’s whole body. Above all else, guard your heart, for everything you do flows from it. Keep your mouth free of perversity; keep corrupt talk far from your lips. Let your eyes look straight ahead; fix your gaze directly before you. Give careful thought to the[c] paths for your feet and be steadfast in all your ways. Do not turn to the right or the left; keep your foot from evil.”
Proverbs 14:12, 16:25 “There is a way that appears to be right, but in the end it leads to death.”
1 Timothy 3:16-17 “All Scripture is God-breathed and is useful for teaching, rebuking, correcting and training in righteousness, so that the servant of God[a] may be thoroughly equipped for every good work.”
1 Peter 2:1-2 “Therefore, rid yourselves of all malice and all deceit, hypocrisy, envy, and slander of every kind. Like newborn babies, crave pure spiritual milk, so that by it you may grow up in your salvation, now that you have tasted that the Lord is good.”
I would add a few elements to the equation. I don’t think the numbering in this diagram is necessarily sequential. Perhaps there are other elements I have failed to include. Tell me what I am missing!