[Rector]

Acting

 

Have you ever noticed how we think, act and feel our way through life? Take a moment to think about the business of acting, thinking and feeling.

In dealing with a problem, how would do we usually order the above three elements? Do we think about the problem first, then react with our feelings, and finally act, or do we feel about it, then think on it and then finally act? Actually, I think we tend to first feel about something, then we act and then we justify our actions. That is, we think about the whole business after we have acted, and most of that thinking energy is spent in trying to justify the stupidity of our action.

Take for example the way we respond to someone for the first time. Our initial response is a feeling one. We feel warm toward them or cold, attracted or repulsed, at ease or afraid. We then act because of those feelings - extend the hand of friendship or give them the cold shoulder. It is only afterwards that we might ask ourselves why we have acted that way. Given that we have an inflated view of our own intelligence, we work up a list of the person's good points to justify our acceptance, or a list of failings to justify our rejection. The trouble is that our initial feelings may be very inaccurate. We could be tense, depressed, guilty..... and so our own imbalance prompts the negative feelings. We could have struck someone in the past with similar features and the positive or negative memory of them can prompt either positive or negative feelings. Still, this tends to be the way we proceed through life - feeling, acting and justifying.

So how should we proceed in dealing with the circumstances of life?

Obviously, the first thing we need to do is analyze the action. What is actually happening to me? Define it carefully, analytically.

We should then assess the reaction - our feelings. Why do I feel this way? What is prompting these feelings? Remember, we usually blame the external action, but the problem has more to do with our internal reaction. Be honest, we need to identify the seat of our reaction. Then we need to reassess those feelings. So often our feelings are a reaction to subconscious thoughts which may not be at all relevant to the present situation we face.

The rule of thumb is always to reflect upon the cause before acting on it. Self justification, or backward reflection, is of little value. "To thyself be true!"