The popular Western paradigm has thought as the cause of action.

That means that a person has a thought and that thought can then create or cause an action. The implication is that will is on top of action.

There is a tv comedian joke about a person wandering the streets of a city saying "Hello" "Well thank you" "I don't know" etc. In another city, hundreds of miles away, there is another person wandering the streets saying "Hello to you too. You look healthy" "Do you know what time it is?". The two halves of the conversation are occurring hundreds of miles apart, between two "mentally ill" people who appear to each be alone, but otherwise it is a normal conversation.

The point of this paradigm is that thought and action can be perceived sometimes as not master and slave but as two independent processes that are synchronized in most people. In other words thought does not cause action but it does usually correlate with it.

Behaviorism tries to ignore thought and it is apparently as successful in defining behavior as types of psychology that focus exclusively on thought, emotion etc.

The academic behaviorism taught as a branch of psychology has numerous grave flaws, but the simple fact of observing behavior as being not subordinate to psychological processes is priceless for a typical "educated" person. It points to a truth that balances a bit of our control centered thinking. We are only observers, even if we are also actors.

This paradigm is a good first step to an open mind.

The basic question in this is whether we decide to have a thought, then have the thought. Or is thought the reflection of something deeper, beyond our control? One of the difficulties of researching this kind of question is that you will find exactly what you are looking for, regardless of what you are looking for. In other words there is sufficient evidence for each side to prove itself true. Whatever you want to prove, you will prove it.

The riddle cannot be resolved until other types of study are added to it. The 'long story short' version is that the experts most experienced in analyzing this type of question, the true experts in thought and will, do not value thought at all. Thinking is considered a sort of mental straightjacket rather than a leader of action. Thought is more like a lower form of awareness, even a sign of a low level of awareness.

The next obvious question would be "How can a person think without having thoughts". The answer is that awareness does not require thinking. Even actions, in an individual, will happen in the absence of thought, so long as there is awareness. That is one of the goals of a lot of spiritual traditions.

So, back to the beginning.

There are countless forces acting on each of us. We are unaware of most of them. We cling to the tiny few we notice and make those the visible boundaries of our world.

Like a small boat running down a river, we have almost no control, but we can have the illusion of control by ignoring those forces that are outside our control, i.e., most forces.

We can say "My will, my thought, makes the boat go a little this way or a little that way. My will, my thought made me steer the boat away from that rock". But as long as the will of the river (i.e., nature) is ignored, the individual will is fantasy.