Finding root causes

Often times as a Behavior Specialist Consultant and in my personal life, I have been accused of making excuses for people’s behavior.  In my mind there is a huge difference between making excuses and finding root causes. Making excuses entails coming up with things that cause this person to do what they did and then letting them off the hook for whatever it might have been.  Finding root causes entails looking underneath the surface behavior to find what is driving the behavior.  This is done in order to change the underlying causal factors and therefore the behavior itself.  This does not let the person off the hook but makes them do work to change what was done so it will not happen again.  It not only changed the surface behavior, what you can see with the eye, but also what is driving the behavior.  An example might be the following:  When dealing with a child who has been molested you will see surface behaviors like hyper sexuality or the opposite dressing very plainly, fading into the woodwork to not be noticed or to not be attractive.  You will see criminal behavior, drug and / or alcohol use and eventually abuse.  You will see anger/ rage and a lot of it.  There will be poor school performance, especially if it is a teacher that is doing the molesting.  You will see cutting themselves, emotional dis-regulation, reactions to things that are not that bad will have an overreaction.  They will not be able to hold a job when they get older due to the anger / rage.  They will have excuses for their responses to things that do not make sense to you, but it does to them and they will be angry / rageful with you if you dispute it.  Fixing only the surface behaviors will not change the behavior.  They may stop doing whatever you have punished them for, but the driving force behind the behavior has not changed and therefore it will continue to happen, if not in the same form, then it will manifest itself in another manner.  If you punish a child for dressing provocatively, they may not dress that way again in your presence, but, they will find another way to express that behavior.  They may begin to sneak out of the house, dress provocatively when they are out of your sight, etc.  Because you have not found the underlying causal factor, the behavior continues.  It takes a lot of work to change causal factors.  Sometimes years and determination to make it different by the person exhibiting the behavior.  Making them feel bad about what they are doing will only make it worse.  It will make them defensive and pull away from you.  That does not mean you accept their behavior,  it means you let them know you will love them without strings.  Most of us have no idea how to do that.  Loving without conditions attached means that you are willing to love this person no matter what they do, no criticism, just acceptance of who they are and where they are at this point in their life.  That does not mean you accept their behavior.   You are also willing to tell them, without judgment, how it hurts you to see them do whatever it was they did and cause themselves such pain.  If you are only interested in what other people see then you are making excuses.  If you are trying to understand what is making it happen then you are looking for root causes and trying for a permanent change.  These video’s will help you to relax while you are giving away what you cannot control and is no longer working for you.

Link to the video’s.   Enjoy!



Most people believe that forgiving someone means that the person that hurt us is no longer responsible for what they did to us, that they do not have to make it up to us any longer, that whatever they did is removed from their history with us.  That is not true.  Whatever happened between you is still there, the only thing that changes when you forgive someone is that you put the burden of carrying their responsibility around with you. Not forgiving someone is like carrying around a sack on your back and every time someone does something to you, you put a rock in the sack and fling it over your back and carry it around.  Pretty soon you are slumped over trying to carry this sack and people are looking at you like there is something wrong with you.  The person that hurt you does not even remember the incident and you are still carrying around the hurt.  The only person who is hurt by that is you.  Carrying it around hurts you on a daily basis.  Forgiving people allows you to put down the sack of rocks and move on with your life.  It does nothing to or for the other person.  They are still responsible for whatever they did and will eventually pay for it.  Not your concern, your concern is moving on with your life and not allowing the hurt to stop you from living your life.  When you do that, they win.  When you forgive, you move on and they lose.  You remain the person you have always been and did not allow them to change you and make you bitter.  You did allow yourself to learn lessons from the event so it will not happen again, you just didn’t put it in a sack and carry it around with you for the rest of your life.  No one and nothing is worth that burden.  Here is my guided imagery video to help you get rid of the sack of rocks.


When I work with people who are trying to accept the situation that they find themselves in at the time,  they seem to think that acceptance means they have to accept the situation and can do nothing to change it.  Acceptance does not mean you have to like what has happened, nor does it mean you can do nothing about it. It also does not mean you have to swallow whole what is hurtful, painful or inappropriate.  Most times you will not like what has happened in these situations, or you wouldn’t be struggling with accepting it.  Acceptance means that you see the situation as it is, for what it is and make a decisions about what you’re going to do about it.  That has nothing to do with liking it, swallowing it whole and choking on it or allowing an inappropriate situation to continue.  It is seeing the situation for what it is and doing something to make it acceptable for you or sometimes you and your family.  It does not mean allowing unacceptable things into your life.  It may mean not allowing that thing or person into your life again until they can stop doing whatever it is that you find inappropriate.  It may just mean not allowing that situation to happen again.  That will be your decision.  Accepting something or someone who is unacceptable to you does not ever need to be a choice. Allowing less than what you can be in your life hurts you and the person who is trying to make you do it.  It diminishes both of you. Setting limits for your life is always a good thing and will remain a good guideline to set for yourself.  Setting limits takes courage and self-determination to be the best person you can be. If that limit entails not having someone in our life right now,  it does not have to be permanent.  Eventually people come back into your life and you can make another choice, set another limit depending upon the situation at that moment.  Relax and enjoy your new self determination to be the best you, you can be!  Don’t ever accept anything or anyone who makes you less then you are or can be.

“Acceptance does not mean submission to a degrading situation.  It means accepting the fact of a situation, and then deciding what we will do about it.” Author unknown

The following link will help you to let go of those things that are no longer helpful in your life and relax while you’re doing it.

Relax and enjoy!

Letting go part II

The phrase “letting go” sounds very easy.  It is not.  It is a process and it takes time.  We human beings hang on to things that we love with a fierceness sometimes that is indescribable.  If we are people who need to control things, it is even more unthinkable.  If it is a combination of both it will be the most difficult thing you ever do.   Letting  go of people requires the same strength, courage and commitment.  It is not easy to let go of someone you love, especially if that person is your child.  It is required for your sanity if that child is or has become dysfunctional and is an adult now.  For whatever the reasons that has occurred.  Letting go is required in order to not become involved in the drama that is their life.  If your child is still a child, get your family help, because it then becomes a family issue, not just the child’s.  Children are not born dysfunctional, they are taught how to be.  If you are dealing with someone, your adult child or not, who has become dysfunctional either because of addiction or some other reason, letting go will be difficult.  Your will want to help them and love them through it.  It is not your decision to get them help, it is theirs.  If they are not ready to let go of whatever the issue might be, they will not seek help.  You will find yourself in a battle of wills, theirs against yours.  It is an untenable battle.  No one wins because it is not yours to fight, it is theirs.  You can be support while they are fighting it, but it is their fight.  Letting go of that, wanting to help your child, is never easy no matter how old they are at the time.  Trying to help someone who does not want the help is crazy making for you and for them.  Letting go does not mean that you stop loving that person.  It means that you are not physically involved with that person.  That does not have to be a permanent thing.  When they are ready to stop the crazy making, you can re-involve yourself  with emotional support for their efforts.  They need to fight this battle alone in order to make it theirs and learn whatever they need to learn from it.  You cannot learn it for them.  You cannot take their pain away or feel it for them.  They have to go through it in order to get to the other side.  The pain that you do feel is yours.  That is your battle to fight and learn what needs to be learned from it for yourself.

Praying, using guided imagery and relaxation exercises, going to alanon, alateen, finding a trauma therapist if the addictions came as a result of molestation or rape as a child, these will help you to let go of those thing that are not yours to control.  It will allow those that need to learn the lessen, learn it while you are learning yours.  It will allow you to deal with your pain while they are dealing with theirs.  Remember loving someone does not have to stop just because they are no longer with you physically.  If you have ever truly loved someone they are always with you.  This site has relaxation and guided imagery videos that will help you to let go of those things you cannot control and relax while you’re doing it.

Link to the video’s   Enjoy!

Letting go

Letting go does not mean that we forget what happened.  Letting go means that we no longer re-feel the emotions attached to the memory.  As humans we have the capacity to remember everything that has every happened to us from the time we were born.  As a therapist, when someone tells me that they have no memories of their childhood, I wonder what trauma happened to them that they don’t remember.  If we fall and break our leg as a child, we should remember the fall and the fact that it hurt.  We should not re-feel the pain of the break.  If we got blamed for something we did not do and were punished for it.  We should remember the event, the people involved and the fact that we were angry.  We should not be re-feeling the anger.  We need to remember the bad as well as the good in our lives.  We need to remember the bad so we do not repeat the mistakes that were made,  either by others or by ourselves.  If we forget we are doomed to repeat them.  Letting go is not easy,  for me it is a process that does not happen overnight, or within a week.  Depending upon what I am trying to let go of, it may take me months to let go of it.  If it is something or someone dear to me it usually takes months, sometimes a year or more.  I know that I have truly let go when I can find humor in it.  If I am remembering it and able to find something humorous about it, then I have let go.

” The strength of our generosity is a primary factor in our ability to accept change.  The mind that can let go, as is required in an act of giving, diminishes the forces of craving, clinging, attachment and fear within us. These forces would have us hold on to pleasure in a futile effort to control experience, to make pleasure last forever.  These forces would have us fear pain, as though it were not a natural part of the flow of events and cause us to try to avoid and deny it, no matter what the effort costs us.  As we give material things to others, we develop the ability to let things be as they are, without trying to hold on, push away or control what can’t be controlled.”   Author unknown

These video’s will help you to let go.

Link to the video’s.  Enjoy!

Moving on

Some people view moving on from the past as coping out, letting the people who hurt us off the hook.  Thinking that somehow they have to pay for what they did to us, and more importantly, we have to watch them pay.  Moving on from the past has little to do with watching someone pay for what they did to us.  It has to do with letting go of everything that is burdening us and moving on despite the fact that we were hurt by this person.  It has little to do with them and everything to do with us healing.  Watching them pay is not going to heal us.  Putting down the burden we’ve been carrying will help to heal us.  Forgiving ourselves and others will help to heal us.  Carrying the anger, bitterness and hatred that comes with holding on to the memory of being hurt by someone is only hurting us.  Holding on to the emotions attached to the memory is like carrying around a sack of rock on our backs, every time someone does something to us we put another rock in the sack and throw it on our backs.  Pretty soon we are hunched over from carrying the sack and the other person has moved on.  We are the only one still suffering from whatever they did to us.  Whatever the past hurt, whether it is from being molested as a child or growing up with addiction, it is the past and you can heal from it.  You can be a better you if you are learning from the experiences , if you are not looking at life and the experiences, good or bad , as a negative.  Rather as something to learn from and grow into a better person.  These experiences do not have to stop you, make you stuck in the experience trying to make it different or the other person pay for what they did.  Letting it go will allow the consequences for their actions or in-actions take care of themselves.  The best consequences are those that are natural consequences for their what they did or didn’t do.  You don’t have to do anything it will take care of itself.  The following link will help you to let go of those things and emotions that are keeping you stuck in the past and help you to relax enough to do that.

Here is the link. Enjoy!

The Mascot

The mascot is the person or child in a dysfunctional system that breaks the tension.  Whenever the stress in the system gets too great it is this persons job to relieve it, to break the tension.  This is done through comic relief or drawing attention away from what the real problem is at the time.  In a public system of authority it may happen when someone makes a mistake and cannot own up to it and blames the scapegoat in that organization.  The scapegoat this time is either not available or just not allowing it to happen and therefore fighting back.  The mascot will do something funny or distracting to take the attention away from the scene and put it on themselves.  This breaks the building tension.  The same thing will happen in a family system.  The sole reason for this person to exist in this unit is to bring comic relief and break the tension.  It is quite a weight to bear and a responsibility to maintain.  This person is usually the last person born to the family system or the last one hired.  Mascots make good comedians and are often times stand up comics. They have the ability to laugh at life which will help them through it.

Change is also available to mascots.  They will have to begin to take themselves seriously and take a look at why they are laughing and at what they are laughing.  Sometimes it is not laughable, it is serous and it is no longer working for you.  Keeping your sense of humor while you’re doing it.  The sense of humor that you have developed is a positive and will help you through this period of change.  Going to ACOA (Adult Children of Alcoholics) meetings and to trauma therapy for Post Traumatic Stress Disorder will also help.  Relieving stress through humor is also a good way to do it, but in case humor is not working for this kind of stress here is my relaxation and guided imagery video.  You can also get rid of what is no longer working for you and realize it is not your job to relieve the tension.