We have talked much and often in these pages about consequences – the things or stuff that happens to us or don’t happen to us, or that we get, or don’t get, when we do something or don’t do something.
The experts tell us that all behaviour is governed by the consequences that follow it and that the only known way of changing behaviour is to change those consequences.
I have long subscribed to this doctrine and have spent many years promoting the work of Dr. Aubrey Daniels, author of many books on this topic, and have incorporated much of his teachings into my own coaching and consulting work.
I have often struggled with coming up with real, lifelike examples of consequences in action until recently.
An event took place last week that was of such importance and significance to our planet that all other world events, clearly of lesser importance, were politely asked to occupy a back seat as the limited attention span of us humans was required to focus fully on this historic matter.
The media gorged themselves on this event as if they would never again have so much, of such importance to report on.
Circulation of written media achieved numbers not seen since the seventies.
So much content was added to the internet that it was at risk of spontaneous combustion.
Supermarket tabloids toyed with the notion of switching their business models to reporting on real, actual and true events.
Larry King paraded out his usual gaggle of media whores to share with us their, oh so important, opinions.
Other talk show hosts and their talking heads were enjoying adrenaline rushes not experienced since Tiger.
People dealing with real, everyday challenges like illness, poverty, joblessness, violence, addictions and other similarly trivial, insignificant issues could finally turn their attention to a matter of real world importance.
Lindsay Lohan went to jail.
And the buzz in all the above mentioned media, the question asked in every article and on every talk show was “will this experience cause her to change?”
Not a chance.
Here’s why, in my opinion, she will continue with the same lifestyle that has landed her in jail.
It’s all because of that darn thing called “consequences.” And a few other things too.
I have friends who have dealt with, and overcome addictions ranging from alcohol to crack and as I’ve listened to their stories the similarities of their journeys to recovery and freedom have been remarkable.
In each case they told me that the catalyst to change was pain. In other words they had reached their pain tolerance threshold and the pain of continuing to use was more than they were willing to endure. The consequence of quitting, even if extremely painful in the short term, was less painful than the consequence of continuing.
And in each case they had acquired a reason for quitting. In other words they developed a reason to become and stay sober that was bigger and more important than all the reasons they had for continuing to use. We have often talked about how we only ever do one thing – we do what is important to us in the moment. This is our reason why we do, or don’t do, something we should, or shouldn’t do.
And in each case they committed to relinquishing victimhood and assuming responsibility for their lives. In other words they gave up the notion that this was out of their control and that they, and they alone, could, and would, turn their lives around.
Now back to Lindsay.
Her mother publicly claims that none of this is Lindsay’s fault and she admits to encouraging her daughter to believe this. In other words Lindsay is merely of victim of all that is happening in her life and she “just can’t help it.”
Dr. Daniels talks about four different types of consequences, the first being called positive reinforcement which he brilliantly defines as “getting what you want.”
And when we get what we want we tend to repeat those behaviours that got us what we want.
Lindsay, bearing no responsibility for the train wreck her life has become, is getting what she wants each time she is reinforced with the notion that none of this is of her doing. She is merely a victim.
Victims can never change until they move out of the hood. Victimhood, that is.
She has reportedly signed a seven figure contract to tell her story when she gets out of jail. In other words she is being handsomely rewarded and we tend to do things for which we are rewarded. She is getting what she wants and, at the risk of sounding repetitive, we tend to repeat those things that give us what we want.
When she is released she will appear on every talk show on the planet and she will be showered, yet again, with attention. We are told she craves attention. She will be getting what she wants.
Have I mentioned that we tend to repeat those behaviours that reward us with what we want?
So unfortunately, the likelihood of her making intelligent, life altering choices and acting on them, is extremely remote and if the continuation of her lifestyle culminates in the termination of her life the media will say all the appropriate things while they begin their frantic search for the next Lindsay. So, in a sad way she is a victim. She is a victim of all those who will exploit her for their own gain.
Shame on them. And shame on those of us who pay attention to them.
But enough about Lindsay. Surely there’s someone more interesting we can talk about?
How about Mel Gibson?
Till we read again.
P.S. In response to request from a number of readers of my book, “Life Sinks or Soars – the choice is yours,” to offer an immediate follow-up to the book I am offering a six month program, based on the principles of the book. The program is called “From Here To There” and will be limited to only 20 people. It will commence with the first group of ten people on Tuesday, August 10th, 2010 and the second group of ten on Wednesday, August 11th, 2010. If you would like information on this intensive program please send an email to firstname.lastname@example.org and I will send you an info package.