ideas about the reasons and history underlying the behavior that
concerns you. One approach is to understand the causes so well that
you can accept the behavior as lawful. Another approach is to simply
assume--have faith--that there are necessary and sufficient (but
unknown) causes for all behavior, enabling you to tolerate it. In this
case, you don't have to laboriously search out all the precise reasons
and history of an irritating behavior (which is likely to be impossible
anyway). You just accept it.
Please do not misunderstand this point. I am not advocating
accepting all behavior as being moral or desirable or commendable. I
am just saying all behavior, good and bad, is caused and, thus,
something we must accept. Value and moral judgments are also
lawful. So, you may consider your own or someone else's lawful
behavior to be mean, cruel, selfish, gross, immoral, or bad in many
ways. In which case, it would be morally proper to do all you can to
prevent the bad behavior from continuing. However, you would remain
tolerant of yourself or someone else who was obeying the
psychological laws that produced the bad behavior. However, if
behavior is the natural, inevitable outcome of its causes, how can you
dislike or blame the person for what he/she does? Over and over,
convince yourself that "they did what they had to do... according to
the laws of behavior" and that "but for the grace of God, there I go..."
This is the key to tolerance and self-acceptance.
STEP THREE: On a moment by moment basis you can learn to
accept behavior as lawful, not awful.
After accepting your long-standing pet-peeves and self-criticism,
you need to focus on your day to day thoughts, expectations, and
feelings which are still upsetting you. The procedure is the same; look
for the causes, understand the behavior, persuade yourself that the
action has its causes and is lawful. Your hopes and ideals about what
is a "good person" may not change, but you can give up your irrational
demands that things always turn out the way you want. You can
challenge your "shoulds" and "musts," your insistence that you,
others, and the world should have been different. Instead of getting
upset because things that haven't worked out as you wanted them to,
rely on applying your knowledge of behavior in the future so you can
get closer to your goals and ideals.
STEP FOUR: Use the faith you have in the lawfulness of behavior
to plan ways of achieving your goals. You become a confident
The greatest barrier to improving is the lack of hope that one can
change. Knowing that behavior is a result of cause and effect
relationships and not the result of wishing or luck or fate should
encourage us to study behavior and try out different approaches.