Please excuse any typos and grammatical errrors
Welcome back all. We are a good chunk of the way through what I want to cover in my Foundations series. In part 5, we are going to take a look at what I call a universal truth before getting back to self defeating beliefs in Part 6.
However, before we start, I must stress that nothing can happen until you start taking steps to change your thoughts. If you haven’t already started documenting your self-defeating beliefs, I urge you to start doing so. You don’t have to finish this series before starting and the sooner you do, the sooner you can start yourself on the road to rational thinking. What are you waiting for?
Also, I want to remind everyone that while rational thinking is key to everything we talk about later, it’s not in and of itself the answer to long term happiness in a relationship, but it is impossible to comprehend without it as your foundation. My theories have cognitive thinking as a base, but that is just the starting off point. After the foundations series is finished, we will begin speaking directly about relationships and how they need to function in order to have a great shot of long term success. The hardest part of what you will learn from me is the foundations. Once you are practicing rational thinking, the rest becomes that much more easier to understand and adopt.
I know I’m straying off tract from the topic for this segment, but I cannot stress enough that we are just now scratching the surface. The concepts coming up in the next series are ones that I haven’t seen spoken of elsewhere. I won’t be able to give you reference material to study. I will likely blow apart much of what you have believed was important about relationships and love so coming into that section really understanding the concepts I build on, REBT, is critical.
So now let’s jump into what I want to cover for part 5. A universal truth.
“People do what they want to do. People do not do what they do not want to do”. This quote is mine and it refers to my first epiphany about universal truths. A universal truth is a truth that cannot be disproven. So far I’ve found two, and this was my first. I am sure most of you don’t think much of it and others are already starting to argue it in their minds. However for those that really get its implications, it’s as profound a statement as you will ever hear, and for me, it was life changing.
So why is this true, and why is it profound? Let’s tackle why it’s true first. Unlike what you’ve probably thought for most of your life, people are not doing things because they are forced to. You don’t have a job because you have to. You don’t love your parents because you have to. You don’t go to school because you were made to. You always have a choice.
My one caveat here is thus – We are speaking of things that are not physically forced upon you such as going to jail, being raped, being beaten up etc. We are only speaking of all non forced upon physical actions and all thoughts that happen in mentally healthy adults and children.
We can take this to the extreme to show what I mean here. Take service members that have been captured and tortured by enemies of the U.S. in Vietnam. Some talked, and yet others never did.
Did you ever wonder why that was? Well our truth holds the key. For some, the choice of giving up what they knew, or telling the enemy what they wanted to hear was a better option than the pain they endured. For others, it wasn’t. The people that wanted to end the pain, did what they wanted to do – which was to tell their torturers anything they wanted . They did not do what they didn’t want to do, which was to get tortured further. For some select few, what they wanted to do was not give up what they knew. They wanted that so badly that they were even willing to continue to be tortured. What they wanted to do, more than anything, was keep their secrets. What they didn’t want to do was talk to their torturers.
Now that is quite the extreme example, but this truth has much more mundane applications that are paramount to both rational thinking and our later discussions about relationships
Here is a more routine example. Susan, said she didn’t want to be married anymore. She told anyone that listened how she really wanted out, but she stayed married right up until her husband’s death some twenty years later. Now, while Susan really talked a good game here – It’s clear that what she wanted to do was stay married. What she didn’t want to do was get divorced. We don’t know all the reasons she gave herself, but for this exercise we can give some conjecture. Maybe she told herself that divorce was just too long a process. Maybe she said to herself that being married was better than what she thought others would think of her for getting divorced. Could be countless reasons, however, what we know for certain is that between divorce and marriage to her husband, she wanted marriage – despite her words.
Now here is why this truth is also profound and why it changed my life. It enables us to stop listening to what people say, and start looking at their actions to understand what people really want.
Let that sink in here. Lying is easy and people do it all the time. So often, many people couldn’t tell you themselves if what they said is true, or not. However, people simply will not do what they don’t want to do and they will do what they want to do.
So what does that look like? Well let’s say Bob and Sharon are dating. Sharon has asked Bob three times this week to go out on a date, but each time has been met with another reason he can’t. Monday he was bowling with friends. Wednesday he had to work late and Friday night he just wasn’t feeling well. Now normally most advice givers would be telling Sharon that she needs to sit Bob down and have a good talk to try and figure out what is going on with Bob. However, if you really understand the universal truth, this isn’t necessary.
The simple fact is that Bob isn’t much interested in seeing Sharon. If he were, he’d be making excuses to see her, not steer clear of her. Sharon could go the conventional route and spend time figuring out why Bob isn’t making time for her or she could just understand that his actions tell her everything she needs to understand. He’s not interested in making time for her. This clears the way for the quick decision for her to move on.
The problem is thus when it comes to relationships. Asking him why leaves room for him to not be honest with her, or himself. If she stops calling and stops requesting to see him, one of two things will happen. The relationship will die a quick and drama free death, or Bob might decide that he does want to make time for her after all and he’ll call and try to see her again. At that point it’s up to her to decide if seeing him is worth the possibility that he might fall into the old habit once again.
It was once I really believed that the universal truth was correct that my life started to change. I was able to look at what the people I was in relationships with did, and didn’t do and disregard what they said. That made my own choices so much clearer. If she was too busy washing her hair that night, she wasn’t someone I needed to spend any real time worrying myself over.
Things really get much clearer in more intimate relationships. If she or he is telling you they love you but don’t want to spend any time with you, or speaks ill of you to others, or make excuses to avoid sexual contact with you, what more do you really need to know? You don’t need them to lay out that being with you is just more convenient than being alone or that they are already seeing someone else on the side. You certainly don’t need to be told that it’s all in your head thus leading you on for another five years before the inevitable happens and they walk out of your life.
This truth lets you see the world how it really is instead of how you are being told it is.
Now we can even get more complicated on this subject. It also can clearly tell you what you want and don’t want and who you are and aren’t when you are confused yourself.
Most people aren’t so good at understanding themselves. Hopefully all those that take my classes will not be among those for long! However, in times on confusion about what you want in life, simply look to yourself for evidence of who you really are and your wants and dislikes.
So what does this look like? Well let’s tackle who you are versus who you think you are. This part can get pretty brutal on egos for many and I would say it’s a pretty huge issue with almost everyone. We are not whom we say we are.
You are not a giving person, no matter how much you want to believe you are if you cannot name many instances where you gave selflessly.
You are not that friend everyone can count on if you’ve never actually been asked or if you’ve never gone the extra mile for others.
You are not an outgoing person if you actually seldom go out.
You are not a nice person if you seldom do nice things for others.
You are not a loving person if you mostly expect love to be something given to you.
This leads to another one of my quotes “You are not the collection of thoughts in your head, but instead, you are the collection of your interactions with those around you”
We all know those friends and past and present lovers that profess to be something they clearly are not by their actions. It’s not nearly so comforting to put ourselves under that same microscope. You do what you actually want to do, not what you say you want to do.
This can also, as I said, be used for those that are indecisive about major decisions in their lives. Let’s say you have been seeing two people and can’t decide which to make a commitment to long term (If you are monogamous and this is how you operate). If you apply the rule that you do what you want to do, you can come to some startling conclusions. You might realize that you make excuses to see one over the other. You might come to realize that what you want to do is see both of them or you could come to most likely conclusion that if you wanted to be committed to one of them, you would have by now. That would lead you to understand that neither of them is someone you should be making long term commitments to.
There is a word of caution though when using this to apply to yourself. You control you. You might just as easily look at what your actions have been and decide that you no longer want to do those same things. You might decide you no longer want to be that same person. You might, for instance be reading this and decide something like this; Well now that I look at it, my actions say I am not the most giving person I could be and decide to change that. You could start having how you describe yourself match the reality by changing what you do. This is the whole point of the foundations series.
You can’t label yourself, even by your current actions because you can easily decide to stop doing those things that describe that label.
However that caveat doesn’t diminish the importance of this truth as it allows you to examine your and others current and past choices and make rational decisions based on good evidence.
Making good decisions for yourself and about yourself is such an important aspect to leading a happy and healthy life and having healthy relationships. Believing and understanding that people only do what they want to do and don’t do what they don’t want to do is a major key to that.
So how does it apply to rational thinking? Quite well actually. If you are being rational, it is easy to see that understanding the why of something is not nearly as important as seeing that the event took place.
I don’t rationally need to understand why prostate cancer can kill me once I know I have it. My goal once I know I have it is to do something about it.
You don’t actually need your partner to tell you why they don’t want to be with you. You only need to know that they don’t. Why is that? Because, frankly, what a friend, partner, coworker might tell you is very likely not even the truth. There are a whole host of reasons why they might be keeping the truth from you. It isn’t healthy for you to obsessively plot to try to uncover the truth, but it is healthy to take actions on the reality of the situation.
All I need to know is that the person doesn’t want to be with me. The person doesn’t want to be intimate with me. The person doesn’t want to talk to me. Once I know those things, I can move on to a healthy relationship, which is one in which they do want to spend time with me, do want to talk to me and do want to be intimate with me.
Now some of you might be asking yourself – But what if the reasons they don’t want to be with me, don’t want to talk to me or be intimate with me are things that I could change about myself and might want to change?
Well bless them if they want to tell me, and even more, bless me if I would actually see a real fault in my own behavior and go about changing it. While that information might be useful, it’s also very likely to be tainted by the persons own point of view and not be as valuable as you might think.
Even more important, if that person that wasn’t talking to you, wasn’t being intimate with you, and didn’t want to be with you really wanted you to change behaviors, they will have mentioned it. I can’t think of any person I stopped being intimate with that I really wanted to be intimate with where I didn’t give them a heads up as to why rather quickly.
The better, healthier, alternative would be to make your decisions given what you are sure you know now, then take a hard look at yourself and your possible responsibility after some time has passed.
I could spend some time talking about how you would handle someone telling you upfront that things need to change, but that is for much later sections.
So to recap. You now have a powerful tool that allows you to see truths where people would like to hide the truth. One that can also be used on yourself for the same purpose. While this certainly doesn’t cover everything on this subject, it does set another part of the foundation we will build on later.
For part 6, I will get back to the self defeating beliefs.
I am Diego Abrams and this is Triscele Life and Relationships