Consideration Repeating Functional Patterns
Reframing – Toothbrush falls in the toilet bowl
Glad it wasn’t the electric toothbrush
Opportunity to go fishing
Chance to practice alternative tooth brushing methods
Evaluate the benefits of clear vs. blue toilet water
Reason to shop
Glad you flushed
Enhance your skills at using chop sticks
Reminder of the benefits of putting the lid down
Consider all the things you do each day that require little to no conscious thought. Autonomic behaviors like breathing and reflexes are examples of behaviors which occur without conscious choice. There are also many behaviors, referred to as routine that we do repeatedly, hence the phrase “creatures of habit.”
In previous blogs I have described the differences between intentional decision making and passive acceptance decision making. Intentional requires active choice. Passive acceptance occurs when a learned behavior becomes a repeating pattern which requires little to no conscious choice. Decision making patterns fall into two categories, functional and dysfunctional. A functional pattern is intended to achieve a desired result that is intellectually and emotionally productive. A dysfunctional pattern produces a result that is intellectually or emotionally disruptive. Some examples may help clarify the differences.
Intentional functional pattern – Developing a budget for one’s personal finances that the person consistently uses in making financial decisions.
Intentional dysfunctional pattern – Going to a gambling establishment believing that you can consistently win the money you need to pay your bills.
Passive acceptance functional pattern – Having your paycheck automatically deposited to your bank account by your employer.
Passive acceptance dysfunctional pattern – Making purchases without tracking your spending behavior believing that there will probably be sufficient funds to cover the purchase.
The majority of our daily decisions are passive acceptance, intermittently interrupted by situations which inspire an intentional choice. Examine your morning routine. Which actions follow a logical pattern? How did you arrive at your routine? What parts of the routine work well and which create issues? Do you ever stop to consider making some changes to the routine, and if you do, have you actually made the adjustments?
I’m a fairly intentional person when it comes to morning, particularly workdays. I’m all about efficiency. Toilet, sink, shower, clothes, pocket essentials, door. Fifteen minutes pillow to car. Most of my routines make sense. Brush teeth before shaving (Don’t want to confuse shaving cream with tooth paste). Socks before shoes. Belt after pants. Simple logic. Some parts of my routine present options. Take showering. No rule book. What’s your approach? A typical pattern would be to start at the top and work down. Hair first, feet last. Ever consider going in the opposite direction? Start with the feet and head north. When I suggest feet first other s are quick to point out the flaw in my logic. “You don’t’ start with your feet because you don’t want to get your feet gunk on the rest of your body!” Seemed reasonable to me until it occurred to me that if you share a shower stall, the person who showered before you probably ended with their feet so you are putting their feet gunk on your head. I’m pretty sure that the person who invented liquid shower soap had experienced feet gunk, soap bar transfer. Consider further, why does it have to be top to bottom? How about we start in the middle and figure out which way to go. Kick things off with an elbow, transition to the opposite knee, face, toes, belly. I’ve actually tried this, got distracted and missed parts. Talk about distractions. Perhaps I should leave that alone. Don’t want the FCC to cancel my PG rating for the blog.
How about morning coffee? Those of you who are coffee drinkers who add stuff to your coffee. When you pour the coffee do you remember to leave room for the extra stuff? Do you end up slurping or spilling because the cups to full? Did you learn anything the first, second, third time you screwed up?
Functional routines, also known as repeating patterns, make a valuable contribution to daily living. They enable us to engage in multiple behaviors simultaneously. Consider driving. Accelerate, decelerate, steer, check mirrors, watch for hazards, observe the country-side, listen to the radio, talk on the phone, plan an event, can all be in process at the same time.
Dysfunctional patterns can be powerful detractors to a person’s quality of life. Excessive worry, self-degradation, harbored negative feelings like guilt, anger, worthlessness are a huge drain of energy and contribute to personal misery and lowered self-esteem.
An important component of Perspective Management is the intentional development of functional patterns which contribute to our physical, intellectual and emotional health. Just as functional patterns like eating healthy, getting regular exercise, productive rest contribute to physical wellness, the development of functional attitude patterns contribute to emotional well-being.
I challenge you to adopt two attitude enhancement patterns for a five-day period.
Pattern 1 Identify five individuals you believe would benefit from an encouragement blitz. Each day for five days in a row, provide each individual with some words of encouragement. You can pick people you have a close relationship with, a colleague, a neighbor or someone facing a tough life circumstance. The encouragement can range from an emoji to a paragraph. Be in person or use an electronic medium. It’s your pattern, you decide what best fits your personality.
Pattern 2 For five days make a concerted effort to provide an act of consideration toward another person. Let someone go ahead of you in line, leave an extra tip for a server, send a blank greeting card with come cash to someone you know is struggling financially. It’s in the vein of Secret Santa or pay it forward.
The objective of these two tasks is for you to experience the intangibles associated with the positive impact you can achieve by developing a proactive attitude pattern. Before you dismiss the challenge as a nice idea, but not worth your time or effort, consider these responses to typical excuses.
“I really don’t have time for this.” How much time do you think it will take to accomplish these tasks? Fifteen minutes a day. Perhaps if you took fifteen minutes away from complaining about how screwed up everything is you could have time.
“It won’t make any difference.” Sounds like you are thinking about others. The tasks are intended to enhance your sense of purpose. Two questions: What would your reaction be if someone treated you with a little consideration? Do you believe that you won’t feel good about the fact that you tried to bring a little sunshine into the life of another, particularly if the person is someone you care about?
“How about I just do one?” You think anyone ever developed a pattern with a single experience?
It’s easy to fall into and casually accept the existence of dysfunctional patterns which drain your energy, stress you out, and encumber yourself and others. The purpose of the tasks is to offer a proactive alternative that we can easily incorporate into a functional pattern if we choose to make the effort. There is no need to change if you are satisfied with your quality of life. If you find yourself dragging consider the possibilities of lifting your spirits.
Many people are willing to show consideration if a situation presents. Birthday, anniversary, sickness, loss of a loved one. A greeting card event does not create a functional lifestyle pattern. If you want to enjoy life with its ups and downs it requires and intentional effort to develop a healthy attitude routine. That is what perspective management is intended to help you achieve.
The only way to flourish from Perspective Management is to practice, practice, practice. If it seems like work, you’re missing the point. If you feel energized and a little more in control, you’re getting there. If you can find the upside of an abscessed tooth, you got it!
I would enjoy hearing about your experience once you complete the exercise. Post on the blog or send me an e-mail. I’ll let you know how my experience turned out.