Why Smart People Do the Same Dumb Things
You’re a smart person, right? But we bet you’ve found yourself wondering how you’ve ended up doing the same dumb thing AGAIN. We’ve all done it—expected a different outcome when we haven’t changed a thing about what we’re doing; let the same person take advantage of us for the umpteenth time; said “yes” when we promised ourselves we’d say “no.”
Why can’t we stop? Why do we do this over and over again?
Psychologist Dr. Rosalie Tatsuguchi identifies the most common culprit as the ingrained belief systems we hold—our personal paradigms, the rules that dictate our lives. Why do we develop these paradigms and how do we break out of the problematic patterns that prevent us from leading happy lives? How does the cultural landscape of Hawaii contribute to developing these paradigms? Dr. Tatsuguchi offers ways to realize our mistakes and strategies for making meaningful changes in our lives in her new book, Why Smart People Do the Same Dumb Things.
Dr. Tatsuguchi’s book is in stores now, and available at our online shop. You can meet her at an upcoming presentation (see below) at the Japanese Cultural Center of Hawaii and hear her explain the concepts outlined in Why Smart People Do the Same Dumb Things. And be sure to tune in to Sunrise on Hawaii News Now on Mon., July 30 at 8:10AM (broadcasting on KFVE or streaming live online) and “Thinking Out Loud” on KZOO (1210AM) Radio on Mon., July 30 at 6:30pm for interviews with her.
Presentation & Book Signing
Sat., Aug. 11
1:00 – 2:00pm
Japanese Cultural Center of Hawaii
2454 S. Beretania St. / (808) 945-7633
Here’s a sampling of advice from Dr. Tatsuguchi’s book (and her presentation):
How We Develop Personal Paradigms & Problems:
- “Dog bite” Rules—A “dog bite” rule is one that you learned to help you efficiently respond to danger or threats but are now taking to extremes. It generally leads you to make mistakes by overreacting, repeating mistakes and wasting time, energy and emotions. You will miss out on a lot unless you learn to manage that response. Subconscious dog bite rules can be a primary source of repeated mistakes for smart people.
- Case Study: “Carrie”—For as long as she can remember, Carrie’s older brother resented her birth and existence. She was made to defer to him in all things. He was physically and emotionally abusive to her, but her parents did not stop him and usually blamed her for upsetting him. Carrie learned to suffer in silence, keep out of her brother’s way, and try to handle things on her own. This continued as an adult, such that if something happened at work, it never occurred to her to complain or ask for help. Her dog bite rule said: No one will help; no matter what goes wrong it’s my fault, so I’ll just suffer in silence, handle things on my own and keep working. It’s my responsibility to anticipate and fix all problems in order to avert blow-ups. Because she was not consciously aware of these rules running her life, she was always mentally and physically overwhelmed, both personally and professionally.
What Can We Do To Change Our Paradigms?
- Change Requires Making Corrections and Adaptability—Dealing with change requires the ability to see and admit whether things are working or not. You must be able to be adaptable enough to admit when you are wrong and brave enough to make the correction. Not making corrections perpetuates and multiplies the effects of the error. Problems become more difficult to correct because you have to interact with other people and the simple mistake gets complicated by their needs. Below are some examples of types of people who find it difficult to make corrections:
o The Entitled One: I’m Never Wrong, So I Don’t Have to Fix Anything
o The Charming Rascal: I’m Truly Sorry I Made a Mistake, But I Did It Again and I Am Not Going to Stop
o The Warrior: I Won’t Talk About It, But I’ll Try to Fix It
- Human Sacrifice is Illegal, and It Doesn’t Work—Japanese Buddhist self-sacrifice rules come from the idea that life is full of suffering; Gautama gave up a life of luxury and suffered for seven years to seek the Enlightenment that he shared with humankind. Roman Catholic rules of self-sacrifice come from the example of Christ’s willing acceptance of his own crucifixion and forgiveness of his persecutors in order to bring the word of God to humanity. The unspoken rules say you have to suffer in order to be truly helpful and to help others until you suffer: Give until you can’t give anymore, then give some more, and don’t brag or complain about it. The unspoken rules mandate helping others, even though they hurt you and are unappreciative of your sacrifice. In other words, you aren’t really helping others unless you suffer in the process of helping. This is another dog bite rule that has underlying merit but when taken to extremes leads to dumb mistakes.
- Nurture Yourself First—Nurturing yourself is vital. It’s like putting on your own oxygen mask first before you help other passengers on a falling plane. If you don’t, you become part of the problem instead of part of the solution. Most of my clients have a difficult time protecting and nurturing themselves because they have been taught that it is selfish to do so. They often feel so much guilt it drives them to exhaustion. They burn out because they give too much. Then they become part of the problem instead of part of the solution.