Note:  The diagram that begins this piece is to be scanned at first, but later we will refer back to it to derive how to correct the process, so that it will be much, much easier to manage our behavior in order to get much, much more of what we want in life.


Part I.   Initiating the process and sending the signal
Part II.  Receiving the signal and doing something about it
Part III. Deciding how to relieve the discomfort and then doing it
The role of "awareness" or "mindfulness" - training needed

The complete causal chain overall: (The detail in this diagram is inserted so that we can see every piece of the process, so that we can see the opportunities to intervene and where we change things.)

Part I.  Sensing, matching, sending (Automatic)

A.  Something occurs --> Brain "sees" it -->
B.  Primitive brain looks for matching pictures --> If 'yes' on match -->
C.  Send chemical signal to handle it (per a pre-set routine)
Part II. Receiving, noticing, desire (Attention)

Receive signal in body --> Notice signal by a "feeling" of discomfort --> Desire to relieve discomfort

Part III. Reacting or Deciding, acting (Use brain intentionally)

Alt. I. Just react per the "template"
Alt. II. Think, decide/choose, act:  --> Decide to do something about it --> Decide future anticipated results desired -->  Weight those results, decide which is most important, especially if conflicting --> Look through pictures of ways that have worked or create (by thinking) new possibilities of what would work  --> Decide what actions (behaviors) will work best to get desired results --> Act --> Result

We often do not go beyond Part I. 

The big question is where are the points in this chain where it is most productive to intervene, to get what we really want.  See the discussion at the end of this piece.


Managing this process creates true power.  

Power is the ability to produce desired results.

Behavior management stops the distractions, wrong moves, misinterpreted signals, going after the wrong targets, etc. - and it makes life very, very, very much easier.  

Life without resistance reduces "drag" and purposeful behavior choices directs our efforts toward what we want - both together create an easier life, but one that is massively more productive of "life value".

                                                               The BuddhaKahuna

The chain sequencing itself is exactly the same as the chain for thoughts, although parts of the process do not reach the awareness level.   And it does have an end point that follows the final thought.  So, you might consider this the "whole chain", ending in the behavior. 


Every human does an action because one believes it works for the particular high priority needs; each belief, rational or irrational, has a reason, which is to get a desired result.  (At Option Institute, they say every belief is reasonable, even an irrational belief - we have the belief for the reason that we think it will work to get us a desired result.) 

Perception is often not a completely accurate reflection of reality, nor is mind reading, imputing, inferring, interpreting, and such.  If you don't correct this part of the chain, you're in for a rough ride!

Everything in a sequence in behaviors and thinking and feeling is causally related to the next item in the sequence.  The solution of the problem of getting an undesired result/feeling is to intervene in the chain - and the best results are in intervening as early as possible.  That takes more effort, but it has much greater payoff per amount of effort than does learning to cope with the symptoms, which you'll have to do over, and over, and over if you don't intervene earlier...

In trying to picture this, I brought together the pieces onto a separate page:

Diagram of Causal Chain For Behavior .   Use that for perspective. 


A.  Something occurs --> Brain "sees" it -->
B.  Primitive brain looks for matching pictures --> If 'yes' on match -->
C.  Send chemical signal to handle (per a pre-set routine)

If you recall, the earlier the intervention is in a chain, the less the negative effect.
From this viewpoint, we will look for where to intervene most effectively.

The primitive brain is not a true "thinking" brain.  It is more mechanical and less capable of discerning what is true or not true.  It is less logical, using incredibly simple "logic". 

The "logic" is "me see something happening, lookup like picture on file, picture on file has bad feeling connected, no is good, me send protective signal." 

It is important to know, for management purposes, that what the brain perceives may not be correctly seen.  Thus the rule for life:  don't believe all of what is perceived - and decide what is accurate. 

Unfortunately, the thinking brain often doesn't get to participate yet at this point.  However, we can "wire" into the circuitry some images that might influence how the brain sees something, plus how it matches up the pictures. 

Brain research shows that we can "rewire" the brain by repeating input into it.  We can also "calm" the brain and develop the part of the brain that automatically "pre-screens" before the message reaches consciousness.  From Feeling Good Vs. Feeling Bad:  "Also, rather astoundingly, I think, we've discovered a part of the brain (a mechanism) that increases the ability to be happy and increases the filtering ability of the brain (without having to think about it) to screen out and rework illogical (negative) messages that come almost randomly from the other parts of the brain - how's that for an incredible double-whammy."  !!!! 

The bottomline here is that we should notice the chemical, but not believe that it means impending doom (or whatever other misperception and misconception that Dumb and Dumber come up with).


Receive signal --> Notice signal by a "feeling" of discomfort --> Desire to relieve discomfort

Again, true power here lies in not believing the signal at face value AND in seeing that it is not real acknowledging it is not and letting it go.  (After all, how unintelligent would it be to hold onto an untruth from a fool?!)  Letting it go merely takes saying:  "It's not true.  I won't spend any time on it." 

Most people add another piece to the chain by thinking "oh, this is terrible that I am feeling discomfort", which, of course, re-signals the primitive brains to cause more stress to get to their objective of protecting us.   Acceptance of discomfort and making the choice to not panic and to, instead, rationally choose a long term course of action is the essence of maturity.  The benefit is, of course, less total long term discomfort plus a likely positive added by making a more considered choice.   I recommend it (duh!).

Note, as mentioned earlier, the signal strength may be amplified if one has been hypersensitized over time to trigger the fight/flight/freeze response - resulting in exaggeration the fear signal and/or overreaction physically - both resulting in further exacerbating the danger through "reaction to the reaction", building up steam into an uncontrollable chaining of thoughts and/or physical reactions.  When you study the mind, you'll see that when there is a fear response, the higher brain is less capable of thinking well, which further exacerbates the problem.  Sometimes, the hypersensitivity is relieved through physical means, such as medical substances and/or relaxation/breathing methods (many used to achieve peace of mind). 


--> Decide to act --> Decide future anticipated results desired -->  Weight those results, decide which is most important, especially if conflicting --> Look through pictures of ways that have worked or create (by thinking) new possibilities of what would work  --> Decide what actions (behaviors) will work best to get desired results --> Act


The first step in solving any problem is being aware of what is happening AND correctly seeing it.  "Mindfulness" simply means one is intentionally putting attention toward noticing such things. 

Once one is aware of something, then one can either ameliorate the situation (and) or solve the problem.  Ameliorating the situation can be done through such things as correcting the thought that caused the "upset" or through lowering the physical reaction to it, such as relaxing and/or deep breathing. 

The most effective, so that one is not always coping with or trying to ameliorate the problem, is to solve the problem in the first place.  The problem originates with the original fear thought, so it can be stopped by changing the belief that caused the fear.   And, yes, it can be stopped by changing the thought about what behavior to use to relieve the emotion.  Both are "cures" for the problem behavior, but the change of the original fear thought has the biggest effect. 

Part of the training that is needed here revolves around training people to use more a better strategy than the normal behavioral reaction. 

As in the Fear Section model, we can change the strategy for action and thus stop the bad behavior, but not as effectively as stopping the initial starter of the emotion that needs relief:

If you do not accept this cycle, it will be hard to break out of it.  You must learn to accept this model: 

Event -->      Thought/Belief      -->      Emotion          -->          Action
                              1                                   2               3 

                      (Interpretation                   Physical                   Seek relief
                   Thru Belief Filter)         Chemical Reaction       (or more pleasure)

Changepoint 1 = Solve the cause (initiator) of the problem

     Change one's beliefs

Changepoint 2 = Solve the reaction level so that the emotion is not so

     Learn peace of mind techniques, including changing the brain
            Peace of Mind
            Rewire" the brain
     Medical intervention to change chemicals in body

Changepoint 3 = Change the strategy (belief about what to do) so that the
     resulting action behavior is a better one.  (Enter the phrases below into the
     search engine for related pieces to read.

     Learn anger management techniques
     Learn what works in relationships
     Learn what works in coping with fears 


Look at the related Diagram of Causal Chain For Behavior and get clear on the process.

Then, list out all of your painful or stressing "sentences" you tell yourself and the behaviors that are problems for you.  Then prioritize them.

Use The Behavior Change Process Worksheet.and/or The Belief Processing Forms (choose which, but the ABCD Rational Analysis forms are more usable) on the chosen problems.   The solutions will accumulate and often reinforce each other - and the problems will gradually all disappear.  Remember that there will probably be some learning that is needed, so do the reading on this site to go most directly to understanding - and if you want, mostly later, you might read specific books that I recommend..

Simplified diagram

Diagram of Causal Chain For Behavior 

Related discussion

Why We Do What We Do

Problem solving pieces

The Behavior Change Process Worksheet  

Belief Processing Forms - Choose which, but the ABCD Rational Analysis forms are more usable.

Related reading

Cause And Effect And Power 

Chaining Of Thoughts - Same process as for behavior!  

Rewire" the brain - Very doable, so it does more of what you want.
Feeling Good Vs. Feeling

Watch your thoughts for they become words.

Watch your words for they become actions.

Watch your actions for they become... habits.

Watch your habits, for they become your character.

And watch your character, for it becomes your destiny!

What we think we become.

           Margaret Thatcher
           Similar to Gandhi's,

This is a process. Intervening early is the easiest, before they build up where it is woven into a virtually unbreakable strong cable. 

           The BuddhaKahuna

Your beliefs become your thoughts,

Your thoughts become your words,

Your words become your actions,

Your actions become your habits,

Your habits become your values,

Your values become your destiny.”

― Mahatma Gandhi
Habit is a cable; we weave a thread of it each day, and at last we cannot break it.

        —Horace Mann


Deciding on a behavior each time takes energy and is conducive of more errors. 


Deciding on a behavior ahead of time is much, much more effective and it is much, much easier.


Automating the behavior is the easiest by far and very powerful but almost effortless - and it does take some thinking ahead of time, so that we don't end up with so many really idiotic habits!