First Thoughtsand Our Behaviors
and Our Behaviors
First thoughts and our behaviors.
First Thoughts and Our Behaviors
How do our first thoughts affect our behavior? I wondered that as I awoke this morning thinking about our first thoughts (there’s some humor in that as my first thought of the day was about our first thoughts). I was thinking about the first thing we think about as we experience different situations all day long. I suspect you can relate to this. A foul-smelling homeless man walks up to us on the street and asks for a quarter. Our first thought is probably a reaction to his looks and smell, and the reaction is perhaps adverse. However, he asked us a question. So, if we react automatically, we’ll probably act from the negative emotions we’re experiencing related to his foul smell and dirt-covered looks. We will say we can’t help him. We now introduce a new set of emotional dynamics for ourselves.
Possibly, we quickly start to feel all sorts of negative emotions around not helping him or acting repulsed by him. So, we start justifying our behavior to ourselves. We say something like, “He was just going to drink it away anyway.” Or we turn our guilt on him indirectly by thinking, “There’s a Help Wanted sign; why doesn’t he go get a job?” All this probably feels negative and stems from our first thought of repulsion at his looks and smell.
Our first thoughts are always judgmental and are very fast. They have to be; they’re built into us to help us survive. If we see a bear, we do not want to think about what we’re going to do. We want to react quickly, live, and then evaluate the situation. A homeless man who smells bad is not a threat to us, probably. Yet our survival-programmed mind does not know that. It just experiences a threat alert and then wants to control our behavior from that alert center.
What can we do to improve our lives even with a judgmental first thought?
If we feel the emotion but choose not to act on it, we can answer the homeless man’s question honestly and compassionately. He may not like the answer, but we will free ourselves from all the internal commentaries justifying our reactive behavior. We don’t have to punish ourselves for reacting. We will instead be true to ourselves and our convictions. I am not saying this course of action will be easy or relieve the negative emotions we experience. Instead, we will be authentic, compassionate, and true to ourselves. That is a life lived with Joy, Peace, and Contentment in action.
December, 8, 2014