As I have said in other posts, we use behaviors to get our needs met. When we’re hungry, we eat. When we’re tired, we sleep. When we’re feeling lonely, we will call friends, set up a date, go online and chat with people, or make a meal for someone to show parents. When we have a need, we act. We act for the purpose of fulfilling our needs. We act for the purpose of getting what it is we want.
Sometimes after we have acted we find that we don’t fulfill our needs. Sometimes after putting a behavior into play we don’t get what we want. For many of us, when we don’t satisfy that need and don’t fulfill that want, we start to blame the connection, the relationship that we share with another person, place, or thing. After all, we did what we thought we needed to do or say in order to fulfill our needs and to satisfy our wants; yet somehow, we fell short of the mark. It can’t possibly be our fault! It must be the fault of the other entity within our connection, within our relationship.
In the rare event you want to look at yourself as being the potential source for why your needs and wants went unmet and unsatisfied consider these two words: effective and healthy. When a behavior falls short of expectations ask yourself, “was this the healthiest choice I had available?”
When behaviors fall short of the mark, missed the target altogether, and do not fulfill our needs sometimes they may not the healthiest of choices for us. Telling someone that they’re a fucking idiot because they forgot about our coffee date at Starbucks the other day, may not be the healthiest thing we can say or do in terms of getting our needs met, which obviously is social interaction, as we are likely to destroy that relationship. Then we will have one less connection to be socially interactive leading to our needs and our wants going further unmet. When needs and wants go unmet, we become anxious. We become depressed. So, this behavior, using language to try to bully someone into doing what we want, which of course is a very common behavioral choice, is really unhealthy and in the long run doesn’t help us get what we need or want.
The next thing you can ask yourself is, “was this the most effective behavioral choice for me in terms of getting my need met?”
If you have a desire to be socially interactive with people, enjoy coffee, sit in a place that smells like coffee and where you hear jazz music, then calling your friend a fucking idiot for forgetting about your coffee date may not be the most effective behavioral choice, as I said above, this is likely to damage the relationship, which of course is unhealthy, and then you’ll have no one to have coffee with, which is ineffective, because it does exactly the opposite of what you were hoping it would do.
Now I get it, you’re hurt, when you were left at the coffee shop or perhaps your brain went to the fact that your friend just blew you off, making you the most insignificant individual in the Starbucks at that moment. I certainly understand why this would be hurtful. Why this would be painful. Why you would resort to language and an outburst of verbal anger.
By the way remember anger is behavioral. Anger is not emotive. Anger is a way in which we communicate what we’re thinking, how could you leave me at Starbucks alone you lousy friend, and what we’re feeling, mostly hurt because we were abandoned. Anger is the sound of hurt and fear leaving our soul.
Verbal anger is a behavioral choice we use to express what we’re thinking and feeling and to help get our needs met. In this case we think we’re going to get our needs met by expressing our pain and by trying to get our friend who did not show up to feel bad and apologize for not showing up. This of course leads our brain to think that they care. If they care, then the relationship will stay intact. Will have more coffee dates and will actually show up this time because we will have browbeat them into a sense of submission.
All of these behaviors that I described are ineffective and incredibly unhealthy. The verbal outburst may feel good, and we may get something off our chest and advocate for ourselves which is effective and healthy for a very brief moment then becomes incredibly unhealthy and ineffective long term.
When you’re trying to find mental wellness through a series of psychological fitness skills, you’re using behaviors to cope, problem solve, and communicate. Thus, when you miss the target with one of these behaviors and your coping, problem solving and communication go into the toilet, ask yourself if the behavior was the most effective and healthiest choices you had available.