MENTAL NOTE

"Though we cannot make our sun stand still, yet we will make him run."
Blue, resist the urge to use facebook. You can do it. Good luck.
Cats and dogs can be friends. So can cowboys and indians. So can we.
Why try to be the best when there's no hierarchy in heaven?

Sunday, June 21, 2015

The Puzzle of Repetitive Behavior

Tell me what you did and I will tell you who you are. I was reading a Terrence Rafferty review in The New York Times the other day when I came across these words: 'the enduring human puzzle of repetitive behavior.' That struck a chord and got me thinking. I am undoubtedly guilty of repetitive behavior that is, overall, much more destructive than it is constructive, and perhaps you can relate, but is it really a puzzle? I'm slightly begging to differ.

Whatever we do consciously we do because we want to or because we feel we have to, and all too often the latter reason is quickly outsmarted by the former. That's because we all have urges that are hard to control. Believe it or not, we are at our core animals that (if you ask me) bear very little resemblance to the deities in whose image some claim we have been created, or so I would hope or all hope is lost (though maybe not today). We are very basic that way. We observe, we covet, and when opportunities arise to indulge our mental appetites, we attack and savor the moment like a baby sucking on a pacifier. We are hardwired to yearn for more — more money, more stuff, more love, more recognition, more Facebook followers — so when it comes to making the same mistakes all over again, we shouldn't act surprised. Strong urges are much stronger than the judgmental part of our brain is willing to acknowledge — until it's too late and all we can do is look back and sob. There's no secret.

We are hardwired to make the same mistakes. Of course, we can be extremely creative when we need to reason away the consequences of our actions while we're in the process of doing what we know we shouldn't be doing, like there's an angel on one shoulder, a little devil on the other, and lo and behold: religious doctrine is born. All we need to do is flesh it out a bit and let it age a couple of millennia like a very special bottle of wine. Religious beliefs thrive on our split personalities, on the dual nature of human perception, on our awareness of right and wrong (which may differ a great deal from one nation or tribe to the next), on reward versus punishment, darkness versus light, on Disney incarnate, and if it isn't your parents who your voice of reason is saying will get to punish you, it is likely to be your other Father, or maybe just you, or so your inner-angel keeps warning you, but you're obviously too busy to even want to know about it. Ten hail Marys and the occasional whip will do the trick, so why not carry on? Forget about the IRS. So what if your children need to eat?

Big mistakes, small mistakes — when they're the result of urges, they are all the same. It's only societal rules that dub the majority of mistakes as innocent or actions to be frowned upon, while other ones are to be seen as unhealthy, unacceptable or downright criminal, making our mistakes seem to be as varied as the colors of the rainbow. But their basic architecture is the same. Wanting something is a powerful force. Time and again.

* * *


98 comments:

  1. They say insanity is doing the same thing over and over and expecting different results. I try not to be that crazy. But you're right, there are urges to repeat what we know is wrong or harmful. Just our sinful nature. Thanks Adam and Eve.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. We know a lot. Not that it matters a great deal.

      Delete
    2. no matter what mistakes people make, Odin punishes the wicked and the Flying Spaghetti monster watches over us all.

      Delete
    3. I feel so comforted. Thank you for that, Adam.

      Delete
  2. Just like a cat chewing on a chord
    When he/she gets bored
    They have the urge to do so
    Until they get electrocuted put 6 feet below
    Humans are the same way
    We try and act smarter at the end of the day
    But nope, still a dope
    A dope with hope
    That doing it the same way
    Will change the play
    Can't change what's been written
    Twice shy, once bitten
    But excuses abound
    Many are found
    The dumb can be smart
    When an excuse need to play a part
    Or dumb all around
    Brains on the ground
    Blaming all over and over
    Even poor rover
    The good and the bad
    And the downright mad
    All play the game
    Then lose again and place blame
    Can't deal with new
    Stuck to impulses like glue
    Humans are strange
    And don't ever change

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Don't chew on that thing
      It won't make you sing
      Will have an impressive ding-a-ling
      That could sting
      Millions of years and nothing's learned
      Might as well get our asses burned
      Twice shy, once bitten
      Wise words from The Kitten
      I mean The Cat
      It's not like there's a baby on your mat
      Like my neighbors down below
      Putting on the baby show
      Human won't change or I'll eat my shoe
      This was a message from the Grumpy Goo

      Delete
    2. Nope, they won't at all
      Besides getting stupider at every hall
      Seems humans are de-evolving now
      Soon they'll go back to worshiping a cow
      Speaking of that
      People are still dumb as scat
      They switched out bowing to gods like Zeus
      For idiot celebrities and their plastic caboose

      Delete
    3. People need someone or something to look up to, a role model, the way a child looks up to his or her parents. It is a basic urge that is easily translated into religion or any other kind of worship for that matter. We don't want to be alone. We want there to be someone who is looking after us, someone who knows best. Wouldn't it be depressing if 90% of the human population turns out to be completely wrong?

      Delete
    4. Yep, but they look up to the most stupid people and things. Zeus screwed around with every thing that moved. As does all these dumb ass realty tv stars that people worship. People need to grow a brain. Just because they are on tv or youtube doesn't make these idiots any better than them. Most of what people see about them is just as much a myth as the greek myths. Take their makeup, pr people and other lackeys away and they probably couldn't tie their own shoes. As for people looking up to God and such, there are like what? 2000 gods? Worship away, doesn't mean any one is any more real than the other. Doesn't mean their not either. Yet when religious nuts did the whole kill or believe tirades of the past, that shows how much religion should be taken seriously. If it were all its cracked up to me you wouldn't have to threaten people with death if they didn't believe you. Hocus pocus and bibbity bobbity boo.

      Delete
    5. But can't spell
      What the hell

      Delete
    6. I know what you mean
      At my scene

      Delete
  3. Replies
    1. Is you OK, Blue, you seem to be absent from blogger this week a bit.... hope it's not the buzzing and black holes again :(

      Delete
    2. I'm doing better now. Last week was horrible on many levels. I'm just so tired of it, you know. Wait! Strike that! On your feet, soldier!

      Delete
    3. Tired, weary, exhausted... as if anyone asks us..... we just cope and deal with it!
      Wait, what feet? I thought you wear hooves :)

      Delete
    4. No, I don't. That's a picture of toys. Here's my question, Einstein: how come there's no price on that price tag?

      Delete
    5. because you're priceless of course ^_^

      Delete
    6. did you have something other on your mind? :)

      Delete
    7. Well, the drawing depics two objects on sale: one is a mirror (120 bucks) and the other is two statuettes on a pair of scales. So how come there's no price on that price tag? I know you're just pulling my leg.

      Delete
    8. I wouldn't really know anything about prices... you do remember me is slutty which means I have no price I'm always for free LOL

      Delete
  4. Knowing RPB as a concept
    Was a tremendous help
    Recurrent Pattern of Behavior
    Knowing RPB helped eased off the fear
    A sickness of repetitive offenders
    Who would need constant reminders
    Late-comers or worst if criminal in nature
    Revealing a bad trait in character
    If a person was caught lying
    He would be a liar later without trying
    If he had put his hands in the till
    He would continue to steal
    In recruitment being aware of RPB
    Would weed out persons of dishonesty
    Even drivers who beat the red-light
    Or who weaved in and out with delight
    Would continue to do so undeterred
    Unless they died at the wheel or got injured

    Hank



    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. A number one comment in the place to be
      Coming from The Hankster, not Scooby Doowee
      RPB levels 1 to 10
      Both women and men
      Maybe cats too catching a mouse
      Or vegetarian-wanna-bees jumping a grouse
      They're all there alright
      Some hidden or in plain sight
      Never learning
      Always yearning

      Delete
  5. I think we are the same from generation to generation even if we vow not to repeat the mistakes of that past generation. I also think no matter how tight money might be, we always find a way to pay for those things we really want to have.

    betty

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. All we need to do is read our history books or watch the news or look in the mirror.

      Delete
  6. My only constant mistake is chocolate. If I could have the occasional piece, all would be fine. Once there's more than a bite or two, it's my crack. I eat it all gone, then suffer the consequences. I always tell myself I'll do better next time, but soon the urge for more chocolate hits, and I'm back in the same boat, floating down the river or chocolate filled sins.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. You know, sister, the solution is not to have chocolate in the house at all :))

      Delete
    2. Chocolate... that's is? No wonder your name is Theresa, for a Theresa you are. I was gonna invite you to a famous chocolate factory, but maybe I shouldn't. What do you think?

      Brother Dezmond has a point there. (No, not that kinda point, Dezman!)

      Delete
    3. I reckon you could easily lure Theresa to visit Dutchland with the promise of all the famous Dutch chocolate factories.....
      Have I ever told ya, Blue, that I grew up next to a chocolate factory? PIONIR from Subotica :) it was across our field :)

      Delete
    4. Well, the original factory (in 1971 I think it was) was located in Munich, Germany. Gene Wilder... he is still the one and only Willy Wonka and I still need to write him a letter. Maybe he still has the key to that big ole gate and we could take a peek at that chocolate river. Pionir... no kidding. Is it famous?

      Delete
    5. I miss Gene Wilder... not from Wonka, I've never seen that one, but from the safe family comedies from the 80s.

      Yep, Pionir is supermassive, has legendary products especially HONEY HEARTS and is working for more than 100 years
      http://www.a-pionir.com/

      Delete
    6. Not having chocolate in the house!? I'd rather DIE! Forget strangers trying to lure me from the park with a puppy. Just wave some Lindt chocolate around and I'll go anywhere you tell me to ;)

      Mariah's boyfriend's mom grew up in Germany. Her house was sandwiched between a chocolate factory and a coffee shop. She said it was an amazing scent to wake up to every morning. I think I want to go find her childhood home and buy it!

      Delete
    7. yep, living beside a chocolate factory means smelling the chocolate and biscuits all the time.... which can be both pleasant and unpleasant (for the kids who have no money to buy the chocolate itself). But since my late father worked as a cook in that factory at least we sometimes had at home the chocolate that can't be packed because it's crushed or broken or something so they give it to the workers :)

      Delete
    8. That's nice they let him take home the unsellable chocolates. My father in law used to work for Pepsi and would always bring home close to expiring sodas. I don't really drink soda myself, but my friends and family loved getting the extra goodies like that!

      Delete
    9. Dezz... Theresa...yesterday I bumped into someone I hadn't seen in, what, 8 years or so, and the first thing he said was... 'You look heavier'. So now I'm all depressed and on the verge of grabbing that soda that has been sitting in my fridge for over a week. I already ate the chocolate.

      Talking about repetitive behavior....

      Delete
    10. Welcome to the walrus department, Blue :) If it's any consolation, polar bears and penguins are mostly afraid of us and tend to leave us alone :) Maybe the friend meant heavier with knowledge and wisdom :) Or money :)

      What kind of chocolate was it? I sipped your tea this morning, Blue.... put some lemon and five mashed raspberries in it....

      Delete
    11. The walrus department.... so, this is it? :( I'm done for? I'm The Blue Walrus? But I weigh only 196 pounds.... So this is it? Yeah, right... my EX-friend of a friend you mean (even if he was right). Heavier with knowledge... nice try. I don't remember the chocolate. It was gone before I ould take a sniff or have a good look. There's no hope for me.

      Delete
    12. Well, believe it or not, that is as fat as me is :) the definition of walrus weight :) But I bet you're much taller so it ain't even visible on you.... while I look like a pregnant walrus.... I wish I was pregnant... that would mean I had sex.....

      Delete
    13. What's the report? Lost any in last week? :)

      Delete
    14. Just trying to walk a mile in your shoes, is all.

      Delete
  7. Wow! Ironically I'm in the midst of some serious choices. Your post is thought-provoking. I may need to think about this for a day or so, and get back to you. I'm a bit clueless, but again, I may be having the same urges as before, regarding situations I now face.

    P.S. Why do the 'good guys' seem to always wear white, have wings, and a big fat halo? The bad guys wear horns, large snarky hoofs, and a red tie - really?

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. The good guys and the bad guys... Yeah, who are they portrayed that way... I guess you could call it brainwashing, Dixie. Generations repeating the same behavior until it is considered normal or even truth.

      Watch out for those urges if they're harmful. Stick to your M&Ms, okay?

      Delete
    2. >> "Strong urges are much stronger than the judgmental part of our brain is willing to acknowledge — until it's too late and all we can do is look back and sob. There's no secret."

      You are so right about that!! I've been determined not to make the same mistake again. So far so good! Thank you, sweet friend, Blue. And ~ whoa! M&M's... I haven't had any in a month - no wonder I'm wacky right now! Thanks for the reminder. I'll get some today.

      I love this post!!!

      Delete
    3. You love this post... Well, that's good to hear. One enthusiastic reader is all I need. Now, as for the M&M's... are we talking a spoonful or a truckload?

      Delete
    4. a shipload, a shipload! Like the mothership of M&Ms! Not that I ate M&Ms in years, but still......

      Delete
    5. I'll send you some come X-mas.

      Delete
  8. WOW .... Some Blue Man is at the thinking well this morning. Good. That will bring up non-toxic water.

    I make a huge mistake of thinking that everyone thinks the same as I do. I assume, you know that "ass you and me" thing. I do assume often, especially that workmen are not idiots and that they know their trade. For instance, everything (yup, everything) went wrong with the new studio. Did I not explain properly? Did I assume again?
    For instance the dance floor. Everything was just sitting there, waiting to be installed.
    The sub-floor boxes were made and the beautiful wood maple flooring with groves for the underside and the exquisitely smooth side for the top, of course for dancing. Who could walk, let alone dance on grooves or ridges? I admit I did not stick a piece of the maple wood under the workman's nose and say, "Look, the ridges go underneath and the smooth wood side goes on top." I did assume that a man who advertises being an expert in installing wood flooring would know that. How stupid of me. I walked into the room when it was 1/3 finished and I was struck speechless by what I saw. Only the tear ducts of my eyes worked. All that beautiful wood ruined.

    I thought that taught me not to assume but something equally as drastic went awry with every workman. Tearing out my hair does not solve anything either. I could have put up 2 studios, one my way and one "their" way.
    I hope your week is filled with adventures and good health. I assume....hahahaha

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. The so-called experts turn out to be professional amateurs... Why am I not surprised? But they're going to fix it, right? I mean... they are insured. Idiots. Don't let them off the hook.

      Unbelievable.

      Delete
  9. People never want to or just can't fathom another way. Sad really.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. There will never be peace on this planet, and we all know why that is, right?

      Delete
  10. Hmmm I was only contemplating the word worship the other day after hearing something on the radio.........to revere & adore.............what could be more innocent & yet be such a big mistake............

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I hear ya. Worship is not a word you will find in my dictionary. I think it's unhealthy. I'd rather run a couple of miles...

      Delete
    2. hahaha me too & I did (run!)

      Delete
    3. You sure did and I was there on you shoulder to take a peek and feel jealous all over again. And again. And again. You see, I never learn.

      Delete
  11. I spent a good part of my life making the same mistakes. The consequences are never good. And hindsight is definitely 20/20.

    ReplyDelete
  12. Want is a powerful thing indeed. I'm hoping eventually we can evolve beyond our wiring.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. You are very optimistic. But then again, you did win the Blue Mario game...

      Delete
  13. I think the puzzle of repetitive behavior is wrapped up in the why. Or maybe the blame is misplaced. For instance, I thought for a long time that I was just a magnet for abusive men. It was only when I started this therapist that I learned these men didn't just happen to me. I chose them. The reason I chose them was completely subconscious. They fit the "mold" of the men in my life (father and grandfather) and I was subconsciously trying to fix an unfixable relationship (the ones between my father and mother, grandfather and grandmother)... which was totally ridiculous from a rational standpoint. When you consciously see what you're doing, you can then stop doing it. When you see yourself as the captain of your ship vs. a victim of circumstance... well, that is the unraveling of the puzzle of repeated choices.

    I think we get the same life lesson over and over until we "pass." Then we get another one. Isn't life grand?

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Until we pass... Is that so? That's quite a theory you've got there, Robin. I know you're not the only one to see things that way. But why would we need to pass? Will there ever be a moment when there are no more hurdles to take, no more mistakes to make? Isn't making mistakes one of the things that make life interesting?

      The puzzle of repetitive behavior is wrapped up in the why. I couldn't agree more.

      Delete
  14. People make the same mistakes over and over sometimes. I know I did and do. Keep trying until we get it right, maybe?

    ReplyDelete
  15. Repetitive behavior - we are creatures of habit and habits are hard to break. Life is about lessons and sometimes we learn quickly and sometimes we don't and sometimes we just don't care either way. Or maybe, we continue on as we hope somehow the story will change and the outcome will get us to our true destination. The little angel/devil in us is always at play it is called our conscious. It is the black/white it will always exist ..if you want to find the answers what you really need to do is go in the grey area..venture into the shadowland, for there you will find and see things never known to you before. Why must everything be right/or wrong? Are you the tree or the bird..are you the canoe or the paddle? Perhaps, there is a split personality going on...the yin and yang..opposite forces can actually be complimentary. Have you thought about the concept of duality? I am complex and certainly different than most people. Does that make me good or bad. I cannot be an angel and I am not a devil..what I am is a starchild..that is my story and I am sticking with it...haha..

    Interesting thoughts here blue...come talk to me Blue...we could converse...

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. The grey area... Well, I'd rather go where no man's gone before. I just don't know where that is. Why must everything be right or wrong... I don't think that is necessary, but I do think we were designed to see things as opposites, which makes it hard to actively think outside the box that is our brain. Repeat. Black and white. Left and right. There can be no goal (literally and figuratively) without there being goal posts, one on the left and another one on the right. They define the grey area in between - but only because that's the quintessential human way of thinking, Starchild.

      Delete
    2. I am guilty of repetitive behavior...sometimes I just don't learn..because what I want is what I need ..and what I need is what I want..I am a slow learner in life..feeling very blue..blue...

      So, what you don't check your email anymore :(

      Delete
    3. Sometimes I just switch off my phone. There are so many people who send me emails (students and colleagues included) that I seem unable to make any progress - I'm building a big closet. Do you know that feeling of not wanting to be online all the time? Anyway, that's why.

      You're feeling very blue. How come? Okay, I'll go and check my email...

      Delete
  16. oh Blue. there are some specific mistakes i don't ever want to make again. no regrets over past actions but not worth making them again! that's my want now. i have limited time.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Your want sounds like a plan, Jaya J. Now, all you need to do is stick to it. That's all.

      Right?

      Delete
    2. i plan to stick to my want, lol. yes. although sometimes i'm easily swayed by my day dreams, and being impulsive doesn't help too. but with this, i have to!

      Delete
    3. Swayed by your day dreams.... Tell me more... Tell me more... No, being impulsive doesn't help. I should know. (Notice the word should.)

      Delete
  17. Those who don't learn from the past are doomed to repeat it. :)

    ReplyDelete
  18. Hey Blue,

    I promise not to give a long, rambling response in regards to repetitive behaviour. I promise not to give a long, rambling response in regards to repetitive behaviour. I promise not to give a long, rambling response in regards to repetitive behaviour.

    Each time I repeat my somewhat baffling behavioural patterns, I learn that little bit more about why I might do it. Then I just go back to sleep.....

    See you, Blue.

    Gary :)

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Hey Gary Never Hairy Never Scary Always Flairy! I hear you. I hear you. I hear you. I do. You know I was only talking about a specfic type of repetitive behavior, right?

      Keep coming back for more. Repeat.

      Delete
  19. I can't fight the urge to eat chocolate...um-ah.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Blue, do you reckon Australian chocolate is better than the Belgian or Dutch one? Although here in Europe, we mostly eat Milka which is an Austrian one... not that I eat it.. but still... :)

      Delete
    2. Did you say... Milka? Yikes. Are you sure that's chocolate?

      Delete
    3. You haven't heard of it? Wait, what? Purple colour of the wrap? No? Wait, what?

      Delete
    4. Of course I've heard of it but I'm told it tastes like some kind of fake chocolate.

      Delete
  20. Yup, I repeat bad/negative behavior, but I'm always sure, I'll do better next time. grin.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Sure you will, Sandra, next time... next Monday :)
      I'm patrolling here instead of Blue, whom we've send secretly to Bora Bora... but nobody must know... he's there incognito..... so that paparazzi won't take a pic of him in his red speedos.....

      Delete
    2. Blue has been doing some DIY... Oh wait, I'm on Bora? Right. Wink wink.

      Delete
    3. could you pop over and do it here too... I need some wood painted on my balcony and my windows too.... I don't even know where and how to start.....

      Delete
    4. Well, it all starts with a pinch of motivation. Get yourself some sandpaper and paint. You can do it.

      Delete
    5. Wait, what? I have to sandpaper it first? First tell me how do I take the windows down LOL

      Delete
  21. This post is deep! So much so, that I have found redemption in the fact that I can almost justify my actions of repetitive stupidity. ;-)

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Glad to have been of service, David ;)

      Delete
  22. Hey Blue!!!

    Repetition is not a bad thing... just like quizzes and tests are not bad but can be difficult and repetitive.

    It is my repetitive behavior that makes me learn. Some of my repetitive behavior is very good and after enough repetition, I learn how to assimilate the good behavior into my life permanently.

    The bad repetitive behavior I try to curb. I really try to stop this behavior and I can think of many instances where I have succeeded.

    Really, it all leads to the old adage: Hindsight is 20/20

    As long as I recognize the bad behavior and and seek to resolve it, then the repetition is valuable. I know it does not always work for the small vices, however, I like to think it works for the behavior that truly is a bad habit and I sincerely intend to change.

    ... and with that last part of my comment I am reminded of another adage:Youth is wasted on the young.

    The young do not have the experience to recognize the bad repetition and curb it-- yet. When we are young our hindsight is too short for it to be "20/20." The young are near-sighted.

    That is why I have immense respect for my elders and I try to "pick their brains" whenever possible. What have they learned in their longer life that I may be able to assimilate into my current behavior?

    Then there is the idea that everything happens for a reason. Maybe I had to make the mistake a few times before I could fully assimilate the solution into my life. Maybe the learning by repetition is when I have built up enough karma to finally overcome it?

    I believe my choices have consequences and how I deal with moments, choices, and actions are all a part of a bigger picture.... or, um, classroom.

    Life is like a big classroom.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Now, that's what I call an insightful comment. :)

      Quizzes and tests... I wonder why my students hate them....

      Delete

Speak your mind.