- All behaviors make perfect sense when you understand the underlying schemas and imprints that inform them.
- All behaviors are expressions of the individual unconsciously attempting to get their needs met.
3. Everyone, at any given moment, is showing up doing their best.
Understanding these three tenets allows us to move beyond the duality of our personal and professional relationships including our own conditioning and subsequent imprinting.
So let’s take a closer look to get a better understanding of what it is I’m referring to:
“All behaviors make perfect sense when you understand the underlying schemas and imprints that inform them.”
When reviewing the role of schemas from the previous article on this subject, we are reminded that they act as our mental GPS which we unconsciously use to navigate our external world. Schemas develop throughout our most critical stages of development in response to our experiences and act as the interface between our cellular imprints and our perceptions of self, others and our external reality. We unconsciously rely on our schemas to infer future probabilities both concrete and abstract. In turn, these inferences become the motivation for all of our behaviors.
“All behaviors are expressions of the individual unconsciously attempting to get their emotional needs met.”
In addition to relying on our schemas to help us successfully navigate our external world at the concrete, rational level; we also rely on them to infer more abstract, future outcomes regarding how we can be reassured that our emotional needs will be met. These inferences are based on our previous relationships and experiences which began at the moment of conception when we were implanted in our first environment and influenced by how securely we were attached to this environment and our primary caregivers. If our experiences throughout childhood were primarily safe and secure and our primary caregivers were attentive to our needs; then our schemas would have developed in such a way that our behaviors would consistently reflect that level of stability. Dysfunctional, reactive and manipulative behaviors suggest significant trauma imprinting from chronic stressful, chaotic, and unsafe, childhood environments that end up being replicated in our adult relationships and environments. Regardless of whether the behaviors are considered stable or maladaptive, they always reflect our best attempt(s), in the moment, to get our emotional needs met.
“Everyone, at any given moment, is showing up doing their best.”
I have found that this tenet is the hardest one for folks to accept because our schemas formed around extremely different conditioning and subsequent beliefs within the dualistic paradigm. We grew up with infinite projections that had us believe that we needed to keep trying harder in order to excel beyond our capacity in order to meet the expectations of others. Standardized learning became a big part of this conditioning which often taught us that our best was never good enough as we were being measured against a standard that had very little to do with our own abilities and individual needs. Our best was often, if not always, being measured in relation to a larger collective and always by someone other than ourselves. This conditioning not only occurred within our personal relationships but also from the larger collective of our cultural conditioning which reinforces our belief that in order to be loved and accepted we need to consistently achieve some level of excellence. This, in turn, guarantees that our emotional needs will be met through projections of positive regard and acceptance by others. In the absence of being able to achieve these external standards of perfection, we learn and embody at the cellular level that we are not enough.
Within the dualistic paradigm, our inability to meet the expectation of others is always evidence of us not doing our best because this is the paradigm in which we are always being reflected back to ourselves by others. However, these projections are also unconscious attempts by others to minimize their own anxiety relative to whatever imprinting and subsequent beliefs they are unconsciously holding onto which constantly identifies that they are not enough; and so on and so on and so on….
Whatever we choose to do at any given moment is what we think is best until we have a different understanding of what that is. Once we have a different understanding of what that is; we choose that instead. Our degree of mental and emotional stability combined with our level of awareness, at any given moment, will always determine what that looks like.
If we are able to accept the tenet that everyone, at any given moment, is showing up doing their best, then we have allowed ourselves to step beyond the duality of our own conditioning. The ability to do so dissolves our own imprinting and subsequent self-judgements that has us believing that we are not enough because we are finally able to accept that we have always shown up and done our best, without exception. For those of us who engage in 'life reviews' from time to time and continue to cringe at whatever our version of 'best' was ten years ago, three years ago, or even 6 months ago; it is important to remember that the tendency to cringe is evidence that we continue to grow and develop and increase our awareness which is always a cause for celebration rather than self-recrimination.
Many factors influence what that might look like such as our age/schematic development, our environment, our history of abuse/neglect/trauma and whatever we may have inherited through our respective DNA lineages that makes us vulnerable to manifest some emotional, mental, or physical imbalance or dis-ease expression in response to whatever stressors we’ve experienced throughout the course of our lifetime.
When sitting with clients, I often refer to the extreme as an example to illustrate new concepts within this new paradigm of thinking; beyond the duality of our conditioning:
On July 20, 2012 , James Holmes walked into an Aurora, Colorado movie theatre and using two tear gas grenades, a Smith & Wesson M&P15 rifle, a Remington 870 Express Tactical shotgun, and a Glock 22 handgun, he shot and killed 12 people while injuring 70 others. In that moment, James Holmes was doing his best. In that moment, his mind was falling apart. His mental constructs had broken down to the extent that this unimaginable, premeditated act of violence made complete sense to him. It had to, otherwise he wouldn’t have done it. Had his mind not been falling apart, his best would have looked remarkably different and there would not have been such unimaginable and unexpected loss of life and trauma in an environment that his victims had every reason to believe was safe.
Having worked with individuals whose mental constructs have broken down, it’s probably much easier for me to accept this tenet. However if you just allow yourself to sit with it for longer than a minute or two, the simple logic of such a concept is self-evident and will begin to make sense. What makes it difficult to accept ‘at first glance’ is our collective conditioning that keeps reinforcing the duality and subsequent belief that we should have the ability to control ‘bad’ things from happening to ‘good’ people in an attempt to reassure ourselves that we and our loved ones will not become victims to such horrific acts of violence or that someone we know and love could actually become the perpetrators of such unimaginable carnage.
Unfortunately there are far too many examples showing up in this country and around the world every day that makes it impossible to guarantee our safety and security from individuals whose ‘best’ can change the course of many lives in a few minutes resulting in unimaginable suffering no matter how hard we try to anticipate and control their behaviors.
All behaviors, including maladaptive behaviors, are outward expressions of our cellular imprinting and subsequent schemas. Therefore, it is ineffective to focus exclusively on the behavior as an intervention in an attempt to influence a different outcome. When we do so, as expressed through the current models of the mental health, academic, political and legal systems, we limit the potential for any significant change to occur. Chemically restraining, physically incarcerating, or putting to death individuals as a means of controlling and containing what it is that makes us feel uncomfortable and unsafe will always ensure that in the absence of the external locus of control; the behaviors will persist. Significant, long-term change for individuals and society as a whole requires a much deeper inquiry at the cellular level. In the absence of such an inquiry we are reminded that, once again, we are taking the batteries out of the smoke alarm in an attempt to extinguish the fire.