Ecology is the study of organisms and their relationship with each other and to their environment and their systems (what is she going on about now, you might be wondering (?!), but hear me out!), so before we make a decision, make a commitment or take action, we need to do ourselves the favour of doing an ecology check. Every action has a reaction, or effect, the older I get the more I believe and understand this to be true.
So, we need to understand that we are all part of our own ecology systems. We live within our very own micro-system, so every thought you have impacts your emotions, your behaviour, your relationships and your overall experiences (yes, you say, you’ve told us all of this before), but, we are also part of larger systems and networks; think family, friends, colleagues, gym buddies, the human race etc. etc., so everything we do is impacted by others and also impacts others. If you’ve ever tried to get a three year old to get ready for the day as you have a schedule to keep, you’ll be fully aware that their ecology system can fully impact on your ecology system and there is sometimes very little you can do about it!
What is an ecology check?
An ecology check is the process of considering and exploring the effects of decisions, commitments and actions before you make or take them. It involves taking a systematic look at, and curious assessment of what the potential consequences are. You can think things through on your own, talk things out with others, and, most importantly, have the opportunity to listen to your gut instinct.
I’ve talked before about states, and making sure you’re in a positive and resourceful state when making decisions, and this is an extension to that, this is about you respecting and valuing yourself and your experiences enough to take the time to evaluate the potential outcomes of the decision, commitment or action to ensure that it will have the impact and desired outcome that you are looking for – this is so from standing in the kitchen and taking an ecology check before you stuff another biscuit or chocolate bar in your mouth (or cheese, for me, it’s cheese….and chocolate!), to making a decision about a relationship, deciding how to best manage your finances, to if skipping this week’s gym session is going to spiral you into missing all of your gym sessions, to how you are going to deal with job uncertainty, which many may be facing in the coming months, to whether you wear a face mask or not, etc.
Not only does stopping and doing an ecology check help you to foresee if the decision, commitment or action you are choosing is the right one, it also helps to predict real and/or perceived obstacles that may present themselves and gives you the opportunity to plan for side-stepping or overcoming them.
You’re probably already doing ecology checks
The beauty of ecology checks, is that you are probably already doing some on an unconscious level – i.e. if I jump from this great height, I might break my leg, if I walk out of my job in a rage because Dave in accounting is pushing my buttons, there will be professional and financial repercussions, so I’d better keep a lid on it… you get the gist.
You might already be having internal chats with yourself about making sure you check your account before buying another pair of shoes or another gadget. If not, why not?
You might be good at deciphering if your ‘gut instinct’ is trying to tell you something, or if something sounds good, smells off, or doesn’t look right…these are your preferred senses trying to speak to you on a physiological level, but our world is so fast moving nowadays that we forget to check in with ourselves to ensure what we are doing and deciding is truly the right thing for us at the right time.
Fine tuning your ecology check skills
So, moving forward, ensure that you are living your best life and making decisions that are truly reflecting your intentions, that you will be motivated enough to maintain and are valuing you, your self-esteem, self-worth and overall life experiences, take the time to ask yourself when met with an opportunity, decision, commitment or action:
- How will the consequences of this decision, commitment or action impact me and my wider social system (family, friends, colleagues, etc.)?
- Will the desired outcome be congruent with what I want for my life and for those close to me?
- Will the decision, commitment or action respect me and those close to me?
- Does this decision, commitment or action fit with my belief and value systems?
- How does this decision, commitment or action impact on my sense of self? My self-identity, self-esteem, self-worth, self-confidence?
- How does it impact my overall health and wellbeing?
- What might be the negative or undesirable results of making this decision, taking this action or making this commitment and am I willing to be responsible for and accountable to myself and others for this?
- What resources are needed to achieve this?
- What might I have to give up or take on to achieve this?
- What is my body telling me about this? What is my physiology doing? Is it exciting and motivated, relaxed and calm or relieved, or is it anxious, stressed, or tense?
Sometimes this process might take minutes, and sometimes you might want to sit on a decision, or sleep on it, or mull it over….learn to give yourself time to decide, and don’t let others pressure you into big decisions.