Changes of Behaviour — How to Get Your Life Together — 8

  1. Wisdom — How to Get Your Life Together 1
  2. Flexibility — How to Get Your Life Together — 2
  3. Accepting Yourself — How to Get Your Life Together — 4
  4. Infinite Choice — How to Get Your Life Together — 6
  5. How to Get Your Life Together — 7 — Choosing a Path
  6. Changes of Behaviour — How to Get Your Life Together — 8

How to Get Your Life Together — 8 — Changes of Behaviour — letting go of blaming externals is hard, but blaming means being stuck

In This Moment

Last weekend, we attended a wedding in the beach town of Sarchi. Since then, we’re carless, walking a lot, and enjoying Costa Rica’s Central Valley.

So, just finished up at a boda (wedding) here in Costa Rica. We’ve been at a resort for several days, and it’s been fascinating doing some people watching. I’ll write about a couple of of odd things, while being vague about “who.”

Example the 1st: One guy there likes to think he pretty much knows everything (no, the guy’s not me 😉 -“no se nada” ) and really does spread it thick. He’s becoming more and more alienated from his grown children, and from his wife.

One thing he claims is great proficiency with meditation.

Always followed by, “I’m so stressed by: “work, the behaviour of…, traffic, travel, expectations.” He also mentioned how meditation keeps him from biting on stuff, followed by, “But this time it was serious and anyone would have bitten.”

Example the 2nd: The other thing of note was more bizarre than noteworthy. Two people saw scorpions in their rooms, and one guy got bit (it was hiding in his shirt…) Here’s the odd part: the guy who got bit changed rooms. Because, obviously, he’d been given the “Scorpion Room,” and all the others were somehow scorpion free.

The stories actually dovetail, as in both cases, the parties involved think that externals are more important than internal self-responsibility.

In story 1, externals trump choosing to remain calm and centered. In story 2, expecting a room to be “pest free” trumps learning to check your room, keep your suitcase zipped, and examine your clothing.

It takes constant vigilance to move from blaming, to self-responsibility, to behaviour change. Each step is as complicated (or easy) as the person involved chooses to make it.

In terms of behaviour, it’s like this: Our prime purpose in this life is to help others. And if you can’t help them, at least don’t hurt them. ~ Dalai Lama

facing life
Sometimes, just watching is best

Helping others is never about lectures, as you really have little knowledge of where the other person is coming from. Being helpful sometimes means just watching. It seldom means trying to berate, belittle, and badger others to go along with you. It sometimes means listening and hearing, without trying to fix. It means being present for “all of it,” calmly, with centeredness, and not choosing to bite, even when the scorpions bite you!

Stages of Movement

Blaming is insanely popular, and because we live surrounded by people and scorpions, it’s always something. Finding a blame target, given a lifetime of examples is stupid easy. Yet, I still think it’s weird to blame others or the past for what is going on in the here and now.

The stories we tell ourselves aren’t “true” — they’re just whatever we choose to make of our past.

Self-responsibility is the first leap out of normal. I realize, 100%, that the results I am getting are a direct result of “the questions I am asking,” so to speak. I lose the idea that I am being acted upon by some outside force. I discover that what’s going on in my “package” is me, doing me.

I then can pause long enough to notice that I am winding myself up over what I think — over my stories — and I can breathe and let go.

Where all of this can get difficult is that people start using self-responsibility and self-awareness as a tool to avoid true intimacy. It works like this: I explore myself to the point where I begin to see my games, my illusions, and my most common “blamings.” From this place of increasing clarity, I make the fatal decision to become a guru.

Just like the guy at the wedding, who really does think of himself that way.

Guru-ship” happens when people shift to teaching (lecturing, berating) others, without first doing the hard work of letting go of their games. In other words, it’s one thing to know it, and another thing to stop it.

I hear, “Don’t you see how hard I’ve worked figuring out myself? I know me and what you see is what you get. Given who I am and what I’ve been through, I’m doing the best I can. How dare you challenge me to actually change my behaviour!”

It’s not simply accepting that I must stand on my own two feet. It’s not enough to understand that Dar is Dar and I am I, and that my stuff is my stuff, and hers is hers. Understanding is simply not enough.

Once I “get” the concept — I must ruthlessly weed out any behaviour I engage in that flies in the face of this understanding.

Each time I slide back into “entitlement thinking,” for example, I start by paying attention and noticing as I go there. If I am not paying attention, and “suddenly” find myself there, I want to wake up, stop my game playing, and move on. This is my responsibility.

wave riding
It’s learning to ride life’s waves — Tilley hat optional

This how I have learned that my entitlement gets me nowhere. (Remember, the stuff that causes us grief does not go away. We just get better and better at identifying it and dealing with it differently.) Then, (here’s the hard part), I stop myself from justifying being there.

If I choose to do this, I suddenly have the option of choosing a different behaviour.

Here I go, acting like an idiot. I’ll stop myself now.” This, both simple and incredibly difficult, is the key to self-responsibility. Self-transcendence comes as I can learn to let that part of me (the ego-driven part) shrink with disuse.

Or, every time something is up, you can deliver a lecture and sit in smugness. Or, you can ask to leave the Scorpion Room for the room that never, ever, has an issue.

Both approaches are the height of silly, so think twice, eh?

And when in Costa Rica, always remember to shake out your shirt!

Make Contact!

So, how does this week’s article sit with you? What questions do you have? Leave a comment or question!

About the Author: Wayne C. Allen is the web\‘s Simple Zen Guy. Wayne was a Private Practice Counsellor in Ontario until June of 2013. Wayne is the author of five books, the latest being The. Best. Relationship. Ever. See: –The Phoenix Centre Press

2 thoughts on “Changes of Behaviour — How to Get Your Life Together — 8”

  1. Thanks for this one, Wayne,

    It really speaks to the hard part of creating change. It has taken 2 years of reading your blog, coming to see you and another local counsellor, and weekly meetings with a group of people seeking similar change to finally not just understand this but BEGIN to catch myself in the moment and get over myself. I expect it will take a couple more years for that to become more a regular habit.…and a lifetime not to slip now and then.

    I am extremely grateful that you write these blogs each week. They really help a lot of people. Thank you.


    • Hey, Karen
      Glad you’re finding all of this useful. If I might, let me suggest a next step: just live the next moment with attention / intention. There is no “couple more years.”
      When we shift to “this moment thinking,” (including being aware when we are currently off the rails, breathing, and shifting course), there’s nothing left to do.
      Except, of course, as we slide into the next moment 😉
      Warmly, Wayne


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