Everybody has flaws, things they feel they need to correct or improve. However, how many times do we actually make progress toward our goals to correct or improve our flawed aspects? And how often do we keep seeing the flawed behavior unabated in ourselves after years of “effort?” In this essay, I am going to describe the nature of such problems and their solutions using a Neuro-Linguistic Programming (NLP) frame, and then discuss effective versus ineffective processes from a Buddhist perspective. First, from the tenets of NLP:
“If you always do what you've always done, you'll always get what you've always got.”
We very often get stuck in our methods. Consider someone who has a difficult relationship with his parents. The problem often arises because, over his years of life, their interactions have become predictable. People continue interacting in the same way they've learned to do so—it's the way our brains operate, and the basis of karma (habitual response). However, it should then be of little surprise to see that the results of their interactions are the same. If nothing has changed in the general means by which they communicate, then the same results will occur.
Our fictitious person with parental relationship difficulties often gets frustrated, and understandably so! However, here is where another NLP principle becomes relevant: “There is no failure, only feedback.” This principle espouses an objective view of the situation. Think about it. When you're embroiled in such a difficult situation, it is very hard to view things objectively. However, if you really want to improve the situation, you really have no choice. If you stay “caught up” in the situation, then regardless of the control you attempt to exhibit, your emotions will eventually exceed your tipping point, and you'll fall back on habitual responses. Therefore, the only real means by which to change your response (and, hence, potentially receive a different result!), is to remain objective and do something different from “what you've always done.”
Stay tuned tomorrow for Part 2, where we continue the discussion from an NLP perspective, and begin the transition into a Buddhist analysis.