Consequential Thinking

Consequential thinking allows individuals to assess their choices, to anticipate how people will react, and to follow their intentions. In other words, consequential thinking is about considering the likely outcomes of one’s behaviour before acting. It involves the assessment of the upsides and downsides of various courses of action. Two critical factors influence how individuals come up with solutions to the problems they encounter: (i) confidence in their abilities; and (ii) their capacity to overcome and deal with their emotions. Both emotional intelligence and critical analysis are fundamental to consequential thinking.

Critical analysis: The objective analysis and evaluation of an issue in order to form a judgement.

Emotional intelligence: The capacity to be aware of, control, and express one’s emotions.

One key mechanism for developing consequential thinking is self-talk. In this regard, self-talk entails exploring multiple options and perspectives prior to arriving at a carefully considered decision. This kind of thought pattern is often referred to as thinking ahead. Such thinking requires understanding the interaction between cause and effect. For example, rather than reacting, individuals high in consequential thinking respond with clear thought out intentions.

Think big picture. When you think about how a specific situation fits into your overall goals and objectives it will be easier to respond.

Next time you encounter a stressful or emotionally-provocative situation, think big picture. When you consider about how the specific situation fits into your overall goals and objectives it will be easier to respond. Remember, consequential thinking is about deciding what you need to do for the best possible outcome. Ask yourself:

  • “Am I interpreting this situation accurately?”
  • “Does my interpretation of the situation fit with reality?”
  • “Does my interpretation support the achievement of reasonable and constructive interests or goals?”
  • “Does my interpretation help foster positive relationships?”
  • “Does my interpretation seem reasonable and logical within the given context?”