Your Mental Set and Your Behaviour

The beliefs of your mental set shape and colour your emotional energies, and they do a whole lot more than that. They also have a lot to do with your behaviour. All of the ways that you act, all of the time, tend to be congruent with your mental set. In other words, you tend to stay in character.

If you believe you are a worthless piece of garbage, then your behaviour will demonstrate that belief. If you believe that you are capable, then you will express that in your behaviour. The diagram below shows the relationship between your mental set and all of the ways that you will typically behave.

This system is standard equipment for human beings. We defend the beliefs of our mental sets, even if they are illogical. We behave in ways which confirm these beliefs - that provide the evidence for them. It can be a prison, because it is so darn convincing when we actually go out and set up the situations to prove that our beliefs are based in reality. We try to create the evidence to fit the belief.

For example, to prove how unlovable we are, we will act obnoxiously to attract the feedback that proves it. We hang onto our thinking-feeling-behaving prison as if it were prized real estate. "I knew you didn't really care about me!"

When you try to change your behaviour, do you find that you slip back into your old habits all too often? Do you find it hard to change, even though you start out with great resolve? Here's what is going on. Your actions (behaviour) and your mental set seek balance and congruence. They are two aspects of the same thing, with your mental set being the inside view and your repertoire of behaviours being the outside view. Simply changing behaviour causes a great deal of stress by throwing this system out of balance. Stress is generated when changing a habituated behaviour. There is an automatic urge to restore the system into balance and congruence, by returning to the behaviour which fits the self-image in your mental set.

The key to change is including the mental set as well as behaviour in the change process, so that the whole system evolves, not just the behavioural part. Doing that is what this manual is about.

Your mental set, your emotions and your behaviour are interrelated. It is a very complex system. Being advocates of creative laziness, we aren't going to try to tackle the whole complicated shmeer. What we will look for are the key threads which hold the unhappiness together. Consider it to be a guerrilla venture into mental pollution. We are going to isolate a few key thinking errors and faulty beliefs - the ones that cause most of the problems. By keeping your efforts simple and bite-sized, and by choosing the right bits of mental pollution to go after, you will progress most rapidly. As the cliche says: You can eat a mountain of zucchini - one bite at a time.

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