Don’t Know — Show

Synopsis: You can’t think your way to a more elegant life. Elegance is in the doing! Don’t Know — Show!

Not that it’s important, but the online version of this blog runs on Word Press (WP), probably the most popular blog platform out there. WP got updated a few weeks back, and one of my WP plug-ins started acting up a bit. As the plug in lets me easily add links to Amazon books, I decided to replace it.

To do so, I’m having to change the coding on blog posts that used the old plug-in. Which means, going through each of nearly 400 posts.

Good thing I like re-reading my writing. 😉

Anyway, looking back lets me see how often I repeat themes, and let me tell you, I do. Repeat. And I think one reason I do so is that the same issues keep popping up in my life, and in the lives of friends and loved ones.

Thus, today’s theme, which is all about doing versus thinking.

don't know - showIf you want to stand in the sunshine, you have to go outside

A few weeks back, I wrote an article called The Joys of Self-Sabotage. Really, the point of the article was how to arrest non-working behaviour, and substitute something else, which may or may not get better results.

I got several replies to the article, including one that, IMHO, completely missed the point.

He commented about “self-esteem,” which was not a part of the article. And I’m pretty sure I’ve eliminated that phrase from my vocabulary — self-esteem has become synonymous with self absorption, and that’s never what I’m talking about.

In my articles, and when I’m talking with others, I work pretty hard at sticking to actions as the only thing that is important.

Westerners, to their detriment, favour over-thinking, and under-doing. This, for example, has always been the curse of psychotherapy. Freud believed that people needed to rethink their understandings, and also become aware of their unconscious processes. Said processes came to dominate, and therapy could go on for decades, as more and more scraps of “insight” popped up, to be massaged by the analyst.

Fortunately, the Behaviourists came along, and encouraged their clients to do what I’m suggesting — to keep the analysis to a minimum, and instead, to shift actions.

Because knowing (having an explanation for) why you do what you do is pretty useless, if that’s all there is.

I really think of myself as belonging to the cognitive-behaviourist school, combined with a liberal dose of Buddhist psychology. Sure, I like to know something about the structure of my thinking — how I get myself stuck — and really want to understand how I dig myself out — but really, shifting behaviour is key for me. And the Buddhist piece is this: nothing is going on, anyway.

Despite what our egos tell us.

The reply from the reader I mentioned above was all “thought.” Working through, figuring out… and this approach comes from the erroneous belief that I can’t do anything until I “understand.” Understanding, though, is often shorthand for, “Until the world agrees with my perspective.”

Even though the perspective is what created the mess in the first place.

I know that!” used to be my least favourite client response. Off the client would go, telling me (again) how something they were doing wasn’t working. I’d say something like, “Well, you’ve told me that never has worked.”

I know that!”

Didn’t we agree last time that you were going to (substitute “b” for “a”) from now on?”

Yes we did, but I THOUGHT that maybe this time…”

Right. Sure. Doing “it” again was going to produce gold instead of shit. Good luck with that.


tortureI’ll let you know when I’m done torturing you!

I, in my heart of hearts, think that stubbornly “thinking” about choosing another behaviour, or equally stubbornly repeating stupid behaviour endlessly is caused by our desire to extract a pound of flesh.

And days turn into weeks, months, years.

I’d like to suggest that the remedy to misery boils down to choice — to choosing another behaviour. Nothing more, nothing less.

And as to the punishment part, I think that being honest — telling the other person what you are actually thinking, how angry you are making yourself — “In my head, I’d like to torture you until you bleed!” is much better than passive-aggressively playing games, all the while pretending that butter wouldn’t melt in your mouth.

Because I’ve found that admitting, out loud, to the games we are playing, mostly leads to our realizing just how silly our thinking is. We can then go hit a heavy bag, yell a bit, work through the drama, and then move on by shifting behaviour.

This work has little to do with “understanding,” and everything to do with behaving differently.

So, when in doubt, shift a behaviour, test the results, and as necessary, shift again.

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

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