But, I Did Everything RIGHT!!
Life is not a recipe.
And really, when it comes to recipes, if we both make the “same” banana bread, depending on my oven or the quality of my ingredients, mine might turn out differently, anyway.
In other words, life has way too many variables to be consistent.
But, for many, there is a belief that exists that “if I do everything right, I will (fill in the blank).”
“If I do everything right, I will succeed.”
“If she did everything right, she would be healthier.”
“If he did everything right, he wouldn’t have been shot.”
Like many beliefs, thinking that a certain action equates with a specific and consistent result, is not only a fallacy, but it often has very harmful consequences.
It can create feelings of personal inadequacy, when things don’t go as desired.
And it can kill compassion, common sense and logic, when applied to other people, and how you perceive them and their experiences.
When it comes to most things in life, there is not ONE right way to behave to receive the same results or treatment.
There are far too many variables that exist for that level of consistency. If we can’t even make identical banana breads, why on earth do we think that a certain behavior will always equal a certain outcome.
Some people work their ass off and never achieve their goals.
Some people eat a clean diet, exercise and meditate, and still get cancer.
Some people follow the officer’s orders and still get shot.
All these behaviors may be supportive of the individual desires to be successful, healthy or safe. But, these behaviors do not live in a bubble. They co-exist around other factors in a person’s life and environment, like their genetics or the color of their skin, the competitiveness of their work place or the biases of the people they encounter.
And none of those variables, alone, cause something to happen or not happen. But, collectively, they contribute to a person’s individual experience.
I do believe that even with all the variables that we each encounter, we can strive to behave in ways that support our desires. But, our behavior, in one single moment, or for a certain period of time, will not be the only thing that determines our life’s experiences.
Our stories are much longer, and much deeper, than any one thing that happens to us.
One of the things that makes science, science, is isolating the variables and identifying if we can achieve consistent results.
And people love science. (me included)
It is firm and tangible. It is logical. We can trust it and that helps us feel safe.
But life doesn’t work that way.
And maybe that scares us. So, we try to pretend it works that way, to make us feel safer.
It doesn’t mean that people, behaving certain ways, won’t ever achieve the same results or treatment. In fact, we rely on that, to some degree, in order to function in life.
But, it does mean that if we keep trying to operate on the belief that life works the same way as science, we might be very disappointed.
When I hear someone beating themselves up because they did everything they were “supposed to” and still didn’t achieve a goal, or when I see someone positioning that if gun owners just follow police orders, they will be safe, I pause.
Because it isn’t these individual statements, alone, that may be false. What is false is the belief that precedes them—the belief that “if I just do everything correctly, I will get certain results.”
Sometimes you will and sometimes you won’t.
So, it doesn’t mean stop trying. It means think twice the next time you project the fallacy of this belief onto yourself or another person.
The even larger core belief operating here, is that “right” and “wrong” are clearly defined parameters. But, since that’s another whole blog (or ten), we can stick to this sub-belief, for now.
The more we continue to deepen our understanding of what core beliefs underlie our worldview, the more constructive change we can create for ourselves, and the more constructive conversations we can have with others.
Now go make some damn banana bread and tell me how it turns out. Mmmmm…banana bread…