How do you react when you are faced with a challenge? All of us have problems; however, different people choose different responses. Maynard’s usual approach, described in the last column, is to withdraw from people and concentrate on his problem. While that approach helped him successfully resolve his money issues, it hasn’t worked so well in his search for a relationship!
This article is one in a series You can find the first article in the series here.
Stephen, Maynard’s brother, is outgoing and optimistic. When Stephen perceives a challenge, he feels excited and energized. He thinks he will succeed—even excel—and he’ll discuss it with anyone who will listen.
His challenges are the same as Maynard’s: Stephen wants to have a long-term relationship and he wants to get control over his money.
First, let’s examine Stephen’s money challenge. Whenever money is discussed, Stephen gets pumped up about getting his financial house in order. He’s signed up for investment seminars, he’s discussed his situation with friends over many restaurant meals, and he asks for advice enthusiastically. He switched to a cheaper gym membership, but doesn’t use it because it’s not where his friends go. He filled his cupboards with inexpensive canned goods from a big box store, but he still shops at the market because, actually, he doesn’t like canned food. Throughout it all, Stephen remains optimistic that his credit card balance will decrease.
Now let’s look at Stephen’s relationship challenge. He is also pumped up about fulfilling his wish for a long-term relationship. He’s signed up for dating services, he’s discussed looking for the “love of his life” with his friends, attended numerous social events, and as a result, he’s met several women whom he would never have met otherwise. While he may not yet have found his life partner, Stephen is optimistic that he is on the right track.
As you read about Stephen’s behaviour concerning his two challenges, did you draw any conclusions about the effectiveness of his actions? I bet you did! Do you think Stephen will ever dig himself out of his financial hole if he continues this behaviour? Do you think Stephen will ever find a partner if he continues what he’s doing? It’s easy (and fun) to evaluate what other people do, isn’t it?
However, the evaluation that really counts is “self evaluation;” that is, how does Stephen evaluate what he is doing? After all, he’s the only one who can change it!
One straightforward way to self-evaluate is to ask, “How’s my behaviour working for me?”
If Stephen asks himself that question, he may evaluate that his relationship-seeking behaviour is right on target, so he’ll continue what he has been doing. He may also evaluate that his money-related behaviour is not working, so he may need to make a change.
His brother Maynard, faced with the same two challenges, saw that withdrawing from his friends worked well for his financial problem, but it hasn’t worked at all for finding a relationship. He may need to make a change in that if he wants a different result.
Do you tend to respond with basically the same behaviours for different challenges? Are those choices sometimes effective, but other times not? Let me know!
The next article in this series is here.