Behavior is Always Proactive

InsideOut Empowerment Principle #3: Every behavior you choose, including your feelings, is designed to get you something you want. It is always proactive; never reactive, except for instinctual responses, for example sneezing, the startle response, or crying in response to pain. As long as we believe our behavior is reactive, then we are giving power and control to circumstances beyond our control and other people. For example, do you often say in the course of the day, “He makes me so mad”! Or can you hear yourself saying, “This situation is just so frustrating”? Those statements are simply not true. Nothing outside of you can create your emotions or generate a particular behavior in you. Your behavior is always created internally, motivated by and designed to get you something you want.

To use our extreme example from earlier, if someone put a gun to my head and asked me to do just about anything, I would likely comply. He didn’t make me do it. I just made a decision to act based on the desire I have to live.

When you’re in a job you hate, it’s easy to stay focused on how much you hate your job, however, your job can’t make you hate it. No job has the power to do that. You chose to hate it because you are attempting to change it in some way to get it to be more like a job you want. However, once again, you are focusing your time and energy with something over which you have no control. You may be trying to create enough misery for yourself that you’ll summon the courage to leave. But make no mistake—the job doesn’t make you hate it.

Also, no one can make you happy, sad, mad or scared. Those are emotions you create internally to help you get something you want. We generate happy feelings because we want a person or situation to continue. We generate sadness often when we want someone to do something different. We are sending a message that we believe is crystal clear, “I’m not happy. You better change.” The same is true of anger. It’s not the person or event that creates the emotions. The fear emotion can keep us safe because we won’t risk dangerous actions or it can get us help and protection from others. Your emotions are your best attempt to get something you want out of the situation.

It may sound like I’m splitting hairs but I don’t call this process InsideOut Empowerment for no reason. When you tell yourself the story that other people and events create your emotions, then you are a victim. You have no control. You are at the mercy of the situation and the people in your life. This is simply a story you tell yourself. I want you to tell yourself a different story so you are in the driver’s seat.

Others may attempt to heavily influence your behavior, but the choice is ultimately yours. Just as you have been working hard to get others to do what you want, people in your life are doing the same, using their behavior and emotions to get you to do what they want. You may choose to give them permission to do so but understand that when you do, you are still making a choice. You are either choosing to keep the peace, to gain favor with the person, or to get something else you want in the situation. But you are choosing to give over your control to still get something you want. So paradoxically, you haven’t actually given control to anyone. You are still in the driver’s seat. Just because someone is attempting to get you do something you don’t want to do, when you become complicit in their plan, you are still in charge, choosing the best option at that point in time to get you something you want. Understand how everything you do is your best attempt to get something you want from any given situation.

Once you accept that, then you become 100% totally responsible for the results in your life. If everything you do is your best attempt to get something you want, then how are you doing? If you’re getting most of what you want, then I’d say keep on doing what is working as long as you are willing to manage whatever consequences may result from your choices.

If, however, you are not getting what you want, then it may be time to re-evaluate what you are choosing and likely do something different. If what you’re doing isn’t working, stop and try something else that will likely be more successful.  What would you like to change in your life?

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