How do you monitor your wellness? Who is in your life to love? As you define your own happiness, aim to live it with zeal.
It's empowering to be your own influencer - you define your purpose, you take a step or two each day toward the goals that fit with your purpose - you define & refine your routine - you "check in" on yourself morning, midday, evening - what gets you going? what obstacle might need some neutralizing? It's great to have short term & longer term, more ongoing projects and objectives. It's great to know that step by step makes your "can-do" into a "will-do."
· Self-regulatory systems: The basics
Homeostasis, roughly translating to a relatively stable state of equilibrium, is the goal of many systems, living and mechanical. In the case of your household climate control thermostat, the system is designed to keep the ambient temperature stable at your chosen level. The thermostat plays the key role of monitoring the temperature and signaling either action (start heating or cooling) or termination (shut off).
· One way that a self-regulating system like this is summarized is the T.O.T.E. model: Test-Operate-Test-Exit. The thermostat executes the key test and exit roles, based on a chosen standard (or target) that we set.
· Self-regulation and procrastination: A key first step
The self-regulating model applies to our everyday behavior including behaviors such as regulating our 1) junk food consumption, 2) impulsive spending, 3) social media engagement, 4) television viewing, and 5) even procrastinate on washing our dishes, etc.
· The self-regulating thermostat begins with two key functions:
1. Recording a chosen standard &
2. Monitoring the environment in relation to this standard.
The simple standard we set with our thermostat is temperature, but standards for self-regulation are the concepts we hold of our “possible selves” (our self actualized self) as well as our overall expectations, values, and goals.
· Do-able? Low Probability? One of the first trouble spots in our self-regulation is when we set unrealistic or inappropriate standards about our possible selves or our goals.
Monitoring: Mindful attention
Once realistic goals and standards are set, the first regulation step is monitoring our activity in relation to these standards. Pay attention to your goal pursuit. Here's a summary of the theory behind this process in relation to procrastination:
· Procrastination is a form of self-regulatory failure (this is a prevalent view of researchers, and it fits with all explanations of procrastination, although the cause of the regulatory failure itself is debated, e.g., whether it's something like discounting future rewards, fear of failure, or a personality trait.)
· Self-regulation is the process whereby systems maintain stability of functioning and adaptability to change. It's based on feedback loops as described above.
· Self-regulation failure is largely a problem of under-regulation. We fail to regulate and maintain the feedback loop.
· Most models of the cognitive control of behavior through feedback begin with noticing a change that needs to be regulated in the system. These models begin with attention to the system.
· Therefore, loss of attentional control is a common harbinger of self-regulatory failure.
· Baumeister & Heatherton (1996) write, "Over and over, we found that managing attention was the most common and often the most effective form of self-regulation and that attentional problems presaged a great many varieties of self-regulation failure. . . The effective management of attention was a powerful and decisive step, and self-regulatory failure ensued when attention could not be managed."
So often we are reminded that there will always be stressors. The tolerance of uncertainty is generally best served by adjusting and adapting - and knowing that we have & can again. This reduces the intensity of how you perceive your stressor. This adjustment strengthening helps you to reduce the threats of depressive feelings, hopelessness, or helplessness. If there are just too many stressors, then triaging may be necessary and handing off elements may be the way to retain your wellness.
The Socratic line of questioning is the grounding framework of most psychotherapy modalities. Within this framework, the person examines the automatic response patterns that are helpful to them. As well, they contemplate automatic reactions and responses that are unhelpful or obstruct their goals. This revision of an automatic negative thought process is referred to as cognitive restructuring.
Generally, you recognize that a process is negative when you have a nagging, uncomfortable feeling that your response is not aligned with your basic beliefs. This uncomfortable feeling is referred to as cognitive dissonance. The Socratic questioning processing may help you identify the core belief or principle that you believe you are undermining should you reach a blockade or experience cognitive dissonance.
Think about what you believe – stick with The Basics. Think of why you believe what you believe. Articulate your thoughts into words. Articulate your emotions into words. Articulate your thoughts and emotions into statements. Do you have any questions about the statements? Welcome your fears, doubts, and objectives – these are the integration of realistic thinking and emotions. Stick with the present. If you have doubts or fears, what is your hypothesis? What is the evidence? Is the evidence in the present? Is it a fact? Is it a feeling? Can you live with the worst case? What are the odds of the worst case? Would you bet your savings on the worst case? Can you confirm your hypothesis with verifiable fact? It’s AOK to have feelings – each feeling is valid. However, a hypothesis cannot be confirmed with feelings. Stick with the facts of today.
Socratic questioning is intimately connected with critical thinking as the art of questioning is important to merit of thought. This process is part of your daily living as you internally dialogue. Plato was likely the first to label the contemporary term “self talk” as "internal dialogue." The idea of internal dialogue refers to our inner voice that has the potential to soothe, slow down our thoughts, slow down emotions, and create words from the emotions. Socrates appeared to include self examination through questioning, He dramatically noted that if humans do not “examine their lives,” this is worse than death. What the word "Socratic" adds to the art of questioning is systematicity, depth, and an abiding interest in assessing the truth or plausibility of things. Interestingly, Socrates appeared to enjoy the “never done” aspect of questioning and perennially making discoveries about self and other.
Contemporary education has recently emphasized the value of critical thinking. Critical thinking provides the rational tools to monitor, assess, and perhaps reconstitute or re-direct our thinking and action. This is what educational reformer John Dewey described as Reflective Inquiry: "in which the thinker turns a subject over in the mind, giving it serious and consecutive consideration." Critical thinking and Socratic questioning each seek meaning and truth. Socratic questioning is an explicit focus on framing self-directed, disciplined questions to achieve the goal of finding meaning, truth, and embrace the reality that this process is never done. If learning was Socrates’ food, he felt “satisfactorily unsatisfied” in his statement, “I only know I know nothing.” In this, he would always be seeking and examining, and he would never be done.
For what it’s worth: it’s never too late or, in my case, too early to be whoever you want to be. There’s no time limit, stop whenever you want.
You can change or stay the same, there are no rules to this thing. We can make the best or the worst of it.
I hope you make the best of it. And I hope you see things that startle you. I hope you feel things you never felt before. I hope you meet people with a different point of view.
I hope you live a life you’re proud of. If you find that you’re not, I hope you have the courage to start all over again.
Copyright © 2023 Dr. Joy Canfield, NY Licensed Psychologist - All Rights Reserved.
Be Consistent. Be Reliable. Be You.