About the Post

Author Information

Native Wisdom Part 1: If you do something long enough, you must like it

My Father used to say, “If you do something long enough, you must like it.” These were wise words from a part Cherokee truck driver, born in the hollers of Western North Carolina. His belief was that life is full of mysteries and paradoxes, and that people inevitably did what they wanted. He also believed that people’s behavior spoke louder than their words and that while free will was everyone’s right, few took advantage of it.

The paradox he was speaking to was the difference between people’s professed intentions and their actions, or more clearly stated the difference between what people said they wanted and how they acted. He was fascinated by this observation and so came up with his own explanations of human behavior, independent of psychology or any other academic schooling. For these nuggets of Native Wisdom, I’m eternally grateful and I’ll share them in this blog.

Let’s take an example. A friend of mine was upset about how her children and their families have come to dominate her life. She repeatedly complained about this dynamic and conveyed dismay at how they routinely took advantage of her. While her children, now in their 20’s, are able to manage their own lives, they instead relied on their mother to care for many of their wants and needs. She took care of their pets, fixed lunches, and loaned them money. They also repeatedly come and go from her house at all hours, with the expectation that she take care babysitting, washing their laundry and making them meals. She claimed that she disliked her children’s behavior, yet when observing her actions, the contrary seemed to be true. Her actions shouted that she loved being involved and relied upon. According to my Father, though she claimed that she was unhappy with the situation, it was obvious she didn’t want things to change because she liked things as they were.

Since she had known my Father and his many insights, I quoted him one day, during a visit. In the middle of one of her complaining sessions, I imitated his Southern accent and his wry sense of humor to provide some gentle teasing about her dilemma. She laughed, thankfully.

While, she loved her children and deeply wanted to be connected with and involved in their lives, being intimately connected on a daily basis was proving to be stressing for her. Both her and her children had learned behaviors – habits that had been developed years ago that met the needs of the times for everyone in the family. But now, though she had evolved, and her children had evolved, both still lived their lives through the behavioral system that each had outgrown.

My friend knew that change in the family dynamic was needed, but changing is hard. Why? The behaviors people learn, are learned for a reason. Behaviors develop because, even if only temporarily, they work to provide an answer to a problem. Then, new problems are encountered, and we try to force fit an old solution on a new circumstance. When we become conscious of this, it forces us to confront the fact that what was once the best that we could do, is no longer good enough. This causes pain, so we avoid it be letting the awareness of this go unconscious again. The paradox is that it’s the pain that provides the space for growth. If we are aware of what no longer serves us and could sit with the pain just long enough, we can change our behavior, so that we can create better alignment between what we say and what we do.

Working through her behavioral system was tough, but she was up for it. She spoke with her children and has re-contracted behaviors and boundaries and unexpectedly positive changes have enriched all their lives. All thanks to gentle Native Wisdom from my Father, “if you do something long enough, you must like it.”

How about you? What is no longer serving you well? What actions are not aligned with what you love? What can you change today to bring you closer to your real potential? It might be painful to examine, but you’re up for it, right?

Tags: , , ,

No comments yet.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: