Learning to understand your conscious/unconscious habits and priorities

Are you doing what you think you are doing?

I have been asking questions to myself to try to understand the priorities in my life. Very often I don’t recognize my habitual tendencies and priorities. I just follow my instincts and believe all is going to be ok.

The problem is that most of my actions come from a very unconscious process, where I don’t have the way to choose the best conditions to evolve. It means that my reactions depend upon a less than accurate perception.

A perception that doesn’t allow me to organize and focus in order to concentrate on my goals.

When I realized my unconscious and automatic priorities, I noticed that, because I was denying my feelings, I couldn’t see my needs. Below is a diagram of how I was organizing my priorities:

  1. Fear of making mistakes or other related issues (e.g., what people think about me)
  2. Focus on the Goal alone (being successful is more important than to plan strategies)
  3. Focus on the Process -(When I have time from my fear)
  4. Enjoyment/Shame (If everything is ok I deserve …, otherwise I deserve to be punished)

Here are my updated priorities:

  1. Enjoyment (it is my life)
  2. Focus on the process (It is the only thing that really matters)
  3. Plans to reach the goals (Planning and targets are always changing)
  4. Openness to deal with fear in the moment, and to learn with it.

“We can throw away the habit of a lifetime in a few minutes if we use our brains.”
-F.M. Alexander

I was working with an actor, a student of mine, and after he performed a monolog, we discussed about his experience, and he described in his words: “Sometimes I was free and clear, but other times I was worrying about the lines. I asked: “Do you believe that your priority was to worry about the lines, or that your priority was to be present and enjoy the process?

After some consideration, he said that in the back of his mind the doubt about the lines was really taking up a big part of his thinking.

I asked him to do it again, this time allowing himself to not know the lines, and at the same time, direct his thoughts toward the present moment, to notice his breathing and to enjoy himself.

He followed my suggestion, and ended up doing a more connected and more truthful version of the work. He didn’t focus on the things he couldn’t control. Instead, he allowed himself to experience and see the facts, see what was really there. He was giving himself permission to enjoy the process of doing his work (which includes making mistakes).

I asked him about his feelings about the work he just did, and he said that it was more powerful and enjoyable. He was able to be present, and the fear of not being right, fell farther bellow in his priorities than his desire to explore the text and character.

Here some questions to see what kind of habitual thinking you have and how this impacts your priorities:

  • Do I have problems or challenges?
  • Do I think life is complicated or do I just accept the challenges?
  • Do I believe that I need to change others, or do I just need to focus on changing my own self?
  • Do I speak to myself harshly when I make mistakes?

In future posts, I will be deepening our conversation with more tips and strategies that could help you in the process of clarifying your priorities and your process.

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4 Responses to Learning to understand your conscious/unconscious habits and priorities

  1. Mattia Bartoli says:

    So how do you achieve presence? How can you EMBRACE failure?

    • Celio says:

      Hi Mattia, I believe that we become present when fear and pain don’t overcome our ability to think. To be present is the normal not the exception. We are only not present when we use our thinking to evaluate or judge ourselves instead of the facts. The more we understand and face our ghosts, the more we question our habitual responses. Life is a learning process, so to learn we make mistakes or we fail. It is very rare that we get it right in the first try. It is like biking. In the beginning we feel unbalanced and fall. You don’t give up. In everything that we do, relationships, business, sports, we need to learn how to do and try until we find what we need. We embrace failure by leaning and adapting to the next level.

    • Celio says:

      I believe that, we have two ways to embrace failure.
      The first one is to judge yourself and stuck in the ego and few bad about it.
      The second one, is to take as a learning process where you are in constant updating your strategy.
      A four year old kid is very attentive and present in all activities she/he does. As soon as she/he find difficulties, or they cannot achieve a specific goal, they just change directions and move toward a new goal. It is just life without the heaviness of the self-hatred sense of guilt and shame.

  2. Elias says:

    This is one awesome article.Thanks Again. Much obliged.

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