Judy Goodman, CPC, CSRC, CRC

  Newsletter

Working and Teaching Beyond Conventional Wisdom

January 2015 

 

    Learned Behavior is something that happens automatically for a great number of reasons.  Sometimes this works for us; sometimes it works against us and can create trauma, poor choices or even harm.  Those things we keep doing over and over, while learning the process, will qualify as learned behavior.  Our instincts and reflexes are examples of things we do not have to learn.  We blink our eyes, we breath normally - this, and more, all done without giving it much of a thought.

   We learn everything we are from others; we acquire our personality traits and characteristics from those around us, or from society-at-large.  Saying it another way... We are a product of our environment and upbringing.  Some learned behavior can last for generations, and will continue until someone decides there is a better way to do things.  For some of us, what we have learned in this lifetime will blind us to daily traumas.  In either case, there are many opportunities to make changes


   When "learned behavior" moves from one generation to the next - what happens?

   A young man is growing up... he goes to college, explores most things his generation was trying, graduates and comes home to join the successful family business.  He had everything going for him, but what he needed was the love and attention of his Father.  The Father's (first generation) behavior was dismissive, distracted, invalidating and empty of expressed love.  The young man (second generation) learned what it meant not to be seen, or heard - additionally, he learned to hold his feelings inside, suppressing his loneliness and pain.  He did not know how to receive, feel or give love! What he knew best was to work hard, try not to create too many ripples, and help grow the business. He became a workaholic, a very good man, extremely successful, and a good father.  His goal was to provide the best of everything for his own family.

   Time marched on and the man (second generation) has become (like) his Father, the very thing he worked so hard to overcome.  All the learned behavior (from his Father) has been directing his own path and choices for many years! The eldest of his children (third generation)  has graduated from college, but does not want to go home and join the family business. The son (third generation) is now a product of his Father's learned behavior.  He is holding in a lot of anger with the parent who will not look him in the eyes and really talk to him.  He is dismissed by meetings, cell phone interruptions, and absence due to constant travel to grow the business even more.  We should remember that there could also be learned behavior from the Mother working at the same time. The son is hurting deeply, and is seeking the connection with his Father.  He has done drugs and alcohol, been in love without the ability to understand why his life is not working.  Is it possible that learned behavior will continue on into the fourth generation?  Maybe not!!

   When behavior such as this is clearly not working; when what we learn is not the path we choose to travel...WE WILL DO WHATEVER IT TAKES TO MAKE THE CHANGE! Such is the unfolding legacy of this family, and the ending will be much better than the beginning.  The first step of changing any generational pattern is to know that it exist and make the changes that best serve those directly connected.  You can teach an old dog a new trick!

     We may also see generational learned behavior unfolding through religion, race, sexual orientation and more.

Any similarities to someone you might know are probably coincidental.


What is our part in learned behavior It is time to take a hard look in the mirror to see who we are.

    We are responsible for teaching those around us!  Depending on our lifestyle, it is so easy to set standards for happiness, pain, addictions, responsibility with money, and so much more.  Those around us will rise to our level of expectations.  Almost everything in our lives is an opportunity to teach someone a better, or easier, way to live.

     If you have a partner that is not vested in you; look in the mirror and see who you are in this situation.  Children will often act out based on how we feel about ourselves.  When we truly believe in someone, and when we share this with them... many times they do everything possible to rise to that level of expectation.

     This is not about being perfect; it is about being the best you can be, and helping others reach their own goals.  If we are prejudice, it is likely that we are teaching the next generation to continue that process.  When we don't like the way our life is unfolding, we must take a hard look at what part we are playing in that creation.

     The 'good' of who we are, as well as the 'bad' of who we are, will multiply and return to us.  Just another good reason to check in with yourself once in a while.

 

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 If we are a product of our environment, what might happen if we are emotionally abused in our marriage?

   Our next subject is at an advanced age of life.  The woman does not look her age, she is well educated, well traveled, financially very well off, she is a widow and mother of three.  Her lifestyle might be envied by many even though her health is beginning to fail her.  What could be wrong with this...RIGHT!

   She came from an humble beginning, and knew what it meant to go without things.  During her marriage her education was put on hold because it suited the husband.  Everything was centered around what he needed, and wanted, as he became even more successful and accomplished.  Without knowing it, she was being conditioned to see her relationship with men in a way that might prove harmful to her one day. 

   Life marched on...she ultimately went to school and was very good at her chosen course of study.  The husband was absent from his marriage, and from his family.  He had more than a few love interest outside of his marriage.  He became more, and more, successful and wealthy.  We should not judge the decision she made, but try to understand her way of thinking.  She stayed in a fruitless marriage rather than give up the lifestyle she had become accustomed to.  Ultimately the husband passed away!

   The point of this is to take a gentle look at where this person is today.   Her environment conditioned her to accept what the man in her life is saying, or doing.  This becomes the standard of her life.  In some ways the more recent men in her life have very similar personalities. Her attorney may not be representing her fairly, may be over-charging her, allegedly was able to remove assets that were in trust; he suggested the accountant for her to use, appears to be directing her decisions in many things.  After all, he was her husband's attorney and he should know best.  Right?

   Her son is using the attachment the Mother has for him to his advantage.  She has funded a venture that is going nowhere, gave him money to meet an emergency - turns out the money was used foolishly. He ask for money, she gives it to him!  She has redirected part of an inheritance to favor him.  He does little for his Mother while receiving the lion's share of her money.  Her conditioning has left her blinded to the manipulation that is going on - learned behavior!  What was learned during her lifetime seems to be the same path unfolding.

Any similarities to someone you might know are probably coincidental.

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     From Happy to Sad to Angry!  Has this ever happened to you?  Some of us experience an almost uncontrollable shift in our moods.  We start out feeling fairly good; without knowing why, we move rapidly to sadness, and then anger.  We often take this out on ourselves, or the people around us.  If we have issues that we are working through, most likely we will immediately revert back to those traumas.   When we confront others with our anger, usually we blame them for something in order to justify what we are doing. 

     When we think things are bad we look for something to be angry about!  In many ways this behavior is a subconscious effort to explode the feelings to find some relief.  This is never done for the sole purpose of hurting others, and is rarely understood by the person in pain.

     In most cases we miss the target by not finding the point of beginning.  These outburst most often start much earlier, but we have moved beyond that point without dealing with it.  Usually the issues are not new, just a re-hashing of old feelings.  When this occurs, the more stimulants you take in around that time, the more difficulty you will have to cancel the outburst.  A stimulant can take many forms!  It can range from something we are eating, drinking, watching or even something we are doing.

     Get to know yourself!  Visit with your doctor to ensure there are no health related issues.  Work with a dietician to learn more about sustainable good carbs that will raise your serotonin levels.  Work with a counselor, or coach, to process your learned behavior.  Before you reach the explosive stage; ask yourself WHAT IS RIGHT?   When you focus on something that is working; it is easier to let go of the perceived things that are wrong.

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