Skip to main content

Would you steal if you wouldn't get caught?

Vandana reads all my posts. In my previous post Giving up Tennis, the last line went
"Has Vandana stopped playing Tennis. I don't even think of it. If you start wondering and thinking about it, you have started playing Tennis again. I want to give up and that is what I am focusing on."

She said it sounded holier than thou. So let me explain what I meant.

I have a strange quirk. I don't like my socks washed in a washing machine, I like them washed by hand. When Vandana and I were playing Tennis, she told me that if I wanted them washed by hand I would have to wash them myself. I used to do that for a long time. My work involves long hours and travel and sometime I would end up not washing socks for a while. After we started playing the Madison instead of Tennis, Vandana saw me struggling and helped me wash the socks by hand. It took a load of my hands and I felt very happy and grateful for this help.

Over time as I started playing the Madison instead of Tennis, Vandana also changed her behavior and started playing the Madison instead of Tennis. Occasionally both of us backslide :-) . 80% of the time both of us are playing the Madison.

The key point is that I stopped basing my behavior on hers. My behavior was not "conditional". I was focusing on playing the Madison without constantly making comparisons. I was not counting the number of times she did not play the Madison. That is a major change that happened inside my brain.

Behavior has many drivers. Mostly we let circumstance drive our behavior. This is "impulsive" behavior. If circumstances put us in a position where we can steal without getting caught, and we steal, we are being impulsive. When we are able to control our impulses, we let our ingrained values drive our behavior. That is "value" driven behavior. We don't steal because our values don't allow us to do that.

I worked very hard to make playing the Madison part of my ingrained values. So when circumstance come up, I don't give in to impulse and start playing Tennis, I control my impulses and see how I can play the Madison instead, because that is part of my values.

How do you go about making something an ingrained value. Hmm, that is definitely another post.