In my practice with clients, I have found myself using these Dr. Phil words over and over again. It sounds so simple, but most people, myself included, have acted without stopping to play the tape through at one time or another- if not over and over again. Picture having a video tape of all your thoughts and actions and the consequences of those thoughts and actions. It is my guess that a whole lot of people would think twice if they could view the tape before ever acting in the first place.
Think about it. Before you eat that third brownie or blow off that work out, you see the number on the scale go higher- you feel it impact your health. Before you yell cruel words at your partner, you see the relationship deteriorate right before your eyes. Before you shame your child in some way, you see the long-lasting effects on his or her self-esteem and feel the guilt associated with your actions.
While working in a day treatment program for substance abusers, I often asked our clients to stop and play the tape through. Before taking that first drink, I suggested that they think about how they will feel about themselves in the morning. Most people, desperately wanting to get better, said that they would feel bad about themselves. When asked how they would feel the following morning if they were able to abstain from drinking until they went to bed that night, they said that they would feel a great sense of accomplishment. Many times people reported that it was playing the tape through that got them to their twelve step meeting rather than the liquor store.
There will always be consequences following our thoughts and actions. If we decide to do nothing at all, that is a choice, and there will be consequences attached to that decision. You cannot escape this life law. But if you play the tape through before you act and before you allow negative thoughts to invade your mind, you may be surprised by the healthy choices that you make.
Too often people make poor choices and then complain about what life has handed them. It is always someone else’s fault. They are unwilling to look at the role they play in their situation. They failed the test because the professor is hard, not because they did not study. They lost their job because the boss didn’t like them, not because they showed up late for work five days in a row.
Take accountability for your thoughts and for your actions. Don’t give your power away by acting or thinking in ways that bring undesirable consequences into your life. You have more power than you think. Think about what it is that you do want in your life and then act and think accordingly.
Before acting, you may want to fast forward and look at the long-term consequences. Remember that somethings that bring us short-term relief cause us long-term pain. Play the tape through.
Possible? Most definitely
Practice makes progress. Go practice.