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It makes perfect sense that we act the way we do

Recently, I was thinking about a common element across a lot of the work I do. Whether through coaching or counseling / psychotherapy, my clients and I get to a place where it makes sense that my clients are doing what they are doing, even though they truly want to change. And, importantly, it makes sense in a way that doesn't pathologize anyone. It's the best strategy they have found, so far, to accomplish something important - perhaps being successful, protecting themselves, or avoiding even worse consequences.

So, whether it is an abusive boss who hasn't found another way to get dependable results, a high-potential employee with a reputation for seeming arrogant, an angry, overwhelmed parent, A partner who withdraws and another who pursues, or someone who has tried diet after diet to lose weight, it all makes sense after exploring it together.

Not surprisingly, it can be a relief to get rid of the burden of not understanding why we have been stuck in the situation we've been in (and of others not understanding us). And, fortunately, it can be an important step towards finding better strategies for achieving our goals and for getting our needs met.

Identifying why our behavior makes perfect sense is a key piece of Kegan and Lahey's work on Overcoming Immunity to Change. It is also a key piece of Sue Johnson's Emotionally Focused Therapy for Couples. Whether working with business leaders, other individuals, or couples, I have found this approach to be quite effective in our work together.