How many times have you heard….
Some of our bad behavior is an attempt to hold on to the innocent, fun, not-characterized-by-responsibility childhood we remember. Our impertinence is less about thumbing our noses at behaving well as it is about embracing the inner child. Some of those bad behaviors result from the adult knowledge of the consequences of that bad behavior:
- Button pushing
- The standard “joke”
- Name calling or teasing
- Clothing choices
We do these things merely for the reaction they will get from our peers. This level of bad behavior is most often an annoyance, a quirk or a signature. We are sticking our tongues out at the accepted version of how we should act for our age.
Ignorance or Stupidity?
The cure for ignorance is knowledge. When we fail to foresee the consequences of our actions, bad behavior is often forgiven. That forgiveness comes with a price. The most common price tag is the (not so) gentle ribbing of our peers, the face palm or the disapproving head shake from our authority figures. You usually get advice about behaving better for the price.
On the other hand, when we know full well what the consequences of our actions are, and we forge ahead without regard to them, we are less likely to be granted a mulligan. This classic bad behavior is the kind we have the ability to stop. It is a choice.
When we are hurt or angry, we often forgo our conventional controls and behave badly. Disappointment, failure and feeling alone can drive us to do things to get attention. These actions are much like the release of the inner child, but not innocent. They support the belief:
Lashing out at others to spread the negative emotions gives legs to the theory Misery loves company. When we feel bad, we behave badly in the hope others will recognize the presence of something wrong and intervene on our behalf. Either we want them to change their behavior or validate our feelings of (pain, slight, sadness). Some of the ways the misery spreads are:
- Bringing up hurtful and/or irrelevant memories
- Deflecting our inadequacies onto others
- Refusing to acknowledge our own culpability
- Breaking objects
By causing others pain or disappointment, we move from being a victim to being a perpetrator. This adoption of power is bad behavior. Failing to acknowledge our own contribution to the situation is our way of absolving ourselves of the responsibility to do the right thing.
The one thing all bad behaviors have in common is the choice. We know in advance there is a different choice and intentionally do not select it. In the absence of knowing a better way, our support systems point us toward another path. The next time the situation to behave badly presents itself, we make better choices.
Engaging in repeated bad behavior is indicative of the choice to behave badly.
Bad behavior is riding the carousel. Are you ready to get off?
Do you, your siblings or Mate resort to bad behavior during conflict? Have you stopped riding the carousel? How do you react to those who are still on the bad behavior carousel?
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© Red Dwyer 2012
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