chapter on automaticity, Ap Dijksterhuis, Tanya L. Chartrand and Henk Aarts write that although we are often consciously aware of our behavior, and we often seem to be doing things intentionally, the starting point of behavior is always unconscious. According to the authors, even goal directed behavior is largely under unconscious control. In many cases we act, judge and strive without even being aware of it. Then, how come we sometimes do become aware of our goals? Here is the explanation of Dijkersterhuis et al.:
"Perhaps we become aware of our goals when progress towards achieving them is problematic, for instance because the environment poses enormous hurdles or because one has two conflicting goals. We know we ruminate about unfulfilled major life goals as well as for very simple behavior." "... progress towards goals achievement is monitored, and it is highly likely that this monitoring process is related to conscious experience when severely obstructed." "... consciousness might help to mobilize and integrate brain functions that are otherwise separate and independent."
I find this a credible view. It seems to fit well with my experience as a solution-focused coach, that the majority of the people who seek coaching or counseling, start of by expressing complaints rather than positively formulated goals. Fortunately, the solution-focused approach is very suitable for helping people turn their complaints into positive goals.