Why every behavior has a positive intent

 “Every behavior has a positive intent” is one of the pre-suppositions of NLP(Neuro linguistic programming)

This can sound strange. People do so many clearly ‘wrong’ things. How can the intent be positive? What about the guy who is always angry, the wife who had an affair, the guy who drinks and beats his wife?

Instead of interpreting ‘positive’ as ‘morally good’ , If I interpret it as ‘useful’ – then it makes sense

All our actions are targeted at receiving love(using a cliche) Towards that goal, we do what works. 

We try ‘asking’ as a child. If it works, great. If not, we sulk. Or make funny faces. Or throw a fit. Or work hard and ‘achieve’. 

The person who is constantly angry does that because that is what has worked. He would have tried asking, requesting…just that it never worked. 

Slowly the pattern becomes ‘reality’. Like operating a black box your entire life. You press green button, fragrance comes out. you press red, garbage comes out. So ‘Press green to feel good’ becomes the ‘formula’. 

World views now get created in retrospect. “People are just lazy. They won’t work unless they are yelled at” 

As a gown up, when he meets other people…and his same ‘todka’ does not work…instead of asking ‘What else can I do?’ he assumes the blackbox has broken, the other person is wrong…how can he not understand. 

His dysfunctional behavior was completely functional for him until now. So he uses it. 

A coaches job is to show new possibilities…and hence options

How this realization helps as a coach and as an individual

This realization forms the bedrock of any ‘human connect’ effort. 

It helps make ‘not judging’ a natural side-effect rather than a moral instruction(“we should not judge”) or a transactional action (“Judging has the following disadvantages…blah blah…. Hence please don’t do it”) 

We know that whatever the person is doing is not cos he is bad, but only cos that is the best alternative he sees. We cannot blame someone for taking a long-cut when they have no clue about the short-cut. And are now worried that even their long-cut is not working any more! 

It helps curtail our judgements too. We can keep telling ourselves we ‘should not’ judge…. but we all are at the mercy of our own experience. 

I might be ok with laziness, procrastination, lack of discipline and multiple things – cos i can ‘relate’ to it. When we say ‘relate’ what we actually mean is just “I can see how that can be justified”

But then we all have our own lists of ‘totally unjustifiable’ actions. ‘physical abuse’ might be clearly ‘wrong’ for me. ‘Having an affair’ might never be justifiable for you. And we automatically judge. Then we tell ourselves we shouldn’t – but its too late already. We are no longer helping someone…we are ‘fixing’ them. 

But once I see the presupposition as a truth, I see that ‘Beating someone into submission’ is what they learnt is the best way to get what they need….’having an affair’ is the best way she knew to meet her unmet need. I might know other ways – but that just makes me lucky. Not superior. Now I might be able to genuinely help.

Same applies to us also. How can we blame ourselves for not taking the paths that we never saw?

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