What makes a choice effective?

Wouldn’t it be great if we could always choose the most effective behaviour for every situation? Wouldn’t that make our lives better and more satisfying?

Some people do lead more satisfying lives than others. And while fate or luck may make some contribution, you know that something called “choice theory” is likely to suggest that satisfaction is a result of choices; satisfied folks consistently choose more effective behaviours than those who are not so satisfied.

You may remember that the term “behaviour” in Choice Theory doesn’t only refer to  what we do, but also what we think, feel, and what’s happening with our physiology.

What makes one choice of behaviour more effective than another? And, are some behaviours always more effective than others? Let’s take a look at how Maynard makes his choices; then you can decide.

When Maynard is faced with a challenge, his stomach churns, he feels worried, he thinks constantly about the problem, and he withdraws from others, preferring to be alone with his troubles. How does that work for him? Here are a couple of Maynard’s experiences that we can study.

Maynard had been having money problems, and he chose to respond to that issue with his usual behaviour. So, Maynard withdrew from his high-spending friends, he thought constantly about the situation, which included doing research and concentrating on getting his financial house in order. Those actions led him in the direction of getting control over his money.

When you analyze what’s happened as a result of your choices and determine how well your behaviour has worked for you, that’s “self-evaluation.” Maynard’s self-evaluation of his response to his money troubles was that his choice of behaviour was ultimately effective. Granted, the churning of his stomach and his worried feelings were not pleasant, but the effects of his actions and thoughts ultimately calmed those unpleasant physical and emotional behaviours. The end result was that he achieved what he wanted.

Maynard’s current challenge is that he wants a long-term relationship but can’t find a suitable, interested partner. Maynard is responding with his usual behaviour: thinking constantly that he’ll never find anyone to love, worrying that he will grow old alone, and withdrawing from his friends and family, rather than telling them that he’d really like to meet someone.

When Maynard dwells on the prospect of never finding a partner, his stomach becomes so upset that he doesn’t go out. His friends see that he is withdrawn, so they try to be considerate and don’t include him when they plan activities. So Maynard’s withdrawal from his friends (which he had initially chosen) has become even more pronounced; now he feels that they don’t want him around.

Even though he’s using basically the same behaviour for both his money challenge and his relationship challenge, Maynard’s self-evaluation of his behaviour regarding his relationship troubles is that it’s not been very effective, at least, not so far.

So, is one choice of behaviour always more effective than another? What do you think makes a choice of behaviour an effective one?

This article is the first in a series on effective choices.
The next article in this series is here.
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