The definition of consistency can be described as “firmness of constitution or character”; in other words, something that doesn’t shift its characteristics readily. This definition is often used in terms of physical properties, such as chemical components. Another definition is “agreement or harmony of parts or features to one another or a whole” or “ability to be asserted together without contradiction” which could apply to less tangible matters, such as philosophy or ethics.
In terms of thought, the definitions become a little more complex. The first definition indicates a certain amount of fixedness, which can be a real problem when it comes to thought. For example, there is no set way to handle all situations. Taking the same approach to any given problem shows a lack of adaptation, and is a surefire way to get one’s self in trouble. It wouldn’t make sense to use the same approach when dealing with all complications. However, if you look at the fixedness in terms of the act of thinking itself, then the definition fits. You may not always use the same pattern of thought, but you certain will use thought in one way or another. The consistency of thought, according to this definition, does not lie in how you use it … but the simple act of using it at all times.
Now the question arises, doesn’t one always use thought? Not exactly, when you consider reactivity and emotion. There are times in life when one feels they are acting appropriately, with a good deal of thought, in an emotionally charged situation. The reality is the emotions are dictating the course of action, not the thought. That is not to say emotion has no bearing on thought. It does, but it often runs away with people at the worst of times. While emotion may dictate that action is necessary in a given situation, it should not be the main factor in determining what that course of action should be. More times than not, when emotion overwhelms thought, a bigger mess is created.
The second definition of consistency indicates an agreement between the parts of a whole, or for something to connect without a contradiction. This gives more insight on “how” to think. As said before, no one method is ideal for all situations. However, as long as the thought harmonizes with the situation, does not create contradictions in the end result, consistency of thought is maintained. So what would be a contradiction in the end result? More problems. Thought harmonizes with a situation when it yields proper results without resulting in more complications. Granted, some situations are going to be messy, no matter what someone tries to do. But if the complications are foreseeable, or limited to a minimal amount, then proper thought was applied.
Now that there is a concept in place for “consistency of thought”, it needs to be applied. The first thing one needs to do is consider how one’s thought patterns work and where it is most problematic. One should consider the times they reacted and caused a greater problem through their actions. What are the triggers that result in less than desirable approaches? Everyone has situations they do not handle as well as others, be it programming from childhood or negative association from a similar past event. Furthermore, one’s patterns are very personal. What works for one person does not work for another. There isn’t a manual in existence that guarantees correctness of thought (and if anyone claims there is, it’s a scam). Everyone is on their own in this department.
The ideal situation is to reflect back on the times one had success, or found events flowing easily. What was the thought pattern used during that time? Same applies in the reverse. What were the patterns when a situation was handled badly? These questions need to be applied to various circumstances. Determine the successful patterns from the destructive.
Once analysis has been completed on the patterns, one can start to devise a set of formulas that work, whether it’s dealing with mundane daily life or sudden disasters. What is more interesting is that the patterns will usually exhibit a core philosophy or principle to them – one that clues the individual in on their nature. When one understands their nature, the possibilities of what one can accomplish becomes immeasurable.
For example, say an individual examines their patterns and realizes the one core element in all of their successes occurs when they let go of the concerns and just flow with the situation. Their nature gravitates towards a lighter approach to life. But this kind of philosophy, no matter how much one may have heard it preached, doesn’t work for everyone. Others may find that nothing short of dedicated, self-sacrificing effort yielded the best results. Some may find going with their gut instincts led them in the right direction while others achieved their goals with pure logic.
The consistency of thought is a uniquely individual process that one must discover on their own. The only two principles that generally apply is the need for thought in all situations and the reliability of using the proper pattern that works with you.
Questions to consider:
- What patterns do you recognize in your thought processes?
- What situations promote ideal thought pattern? Which ones promote negative?
- How can you work on shifting the negative pattern?
- What course of action works best for you?
- How can you utilize that against the negative patterns?