“The Devil Made Me Do It” Is More Than A Comedian’s Legacy - Grasshopper
The late comedian, Flip Wilson popularized the above phrase during a recurring skit on his TV show. It comically connoted that something else was the cause for your shenanigans. This concept has more truth than meets the "take responsibility for your own actions" eye.
According to the Bible, Lucifer was once an archangel. And even if you don't believe in angels or the devil, or the Bible for that matter, you can benefit by the twist I'm about to attach to this ancient story.
Anyone who has attended my seminars has heard me speak at length about patterns of behavior and how they got started, and how they run our lives. The recently departed, Dr. Dave Dobson labeled his approach to helping people outgrow patterns as "No-Fault Psychology."
I ask women at my seminars which lip do they apply lipstick to first - top or bottom? I ask men which side of their face they shave first. Then I ask if the lipstick tube or razor came with an instruction manual indicating to start there first. The answer is "No."
You did have models to copy though - parents, older brothers or sisters, friends, movie or rock stars to name but a few. So the real question is: Is it your fault that you do these things the way you do? The answer is "NO." It's just a pattern.
Patterns are purposeful. They are formed for a purpose - usually to help you through a time in your life. The interesting thing is that patterns get frozen in time. You may be living in the here and now but your patterns are living back there and then.
This is very useful when your patterns produce productive behavior. It's downright maddening when they produce behavior that doesn't serve you or anyone else anymore - behavior that was once purposeful.
That's how one can go from being an angel to a devil in one lifetime.
The angel is the part of you that forms the pattern in the first place. Remember all patterns are purposeful. The devil is the part of you that keeps the pattern in place once the genuine need for it subsides. Perhaps an example would be helpful.
There is psychological case history galore on "frigid" women. The common thread that runs through these stories goes something like this. A young woman is forced to have sex. She cannot physically escape her assailant so her mind instantly builds her a pattern to mentally escape from this harrowing ordeal. Fast forward to years later when she meets the person of her dreams. She chooses to engage in sex with this person but there is no feeling attached. She mentally goes away during sex. It's a pattern that was built for a purpose years ago and it got frozen in time. This phenomenon may give you a new appreciation for the word "frigid."
You can intellectually tell yourself that this isn't valuable behavior but the intellect doesn't run your life - it comments on it. The part of you that runs your life is your patterns. The devil IS making you do it.
If you choose to use this information to gain absolution for your shortcomings, that is a plus and a productive step. If you choose to use this information to justify your devilish shortcomings, you stay stuck and continue to suffer.
It's not your fault until you discover that it's not your fault. Then it's time to take some action and update the pattern.
The initial action that is necessary is to recognize that you are running a pattern of behavior while the pattern is running. That means to catch yourself doing what is counter-productive while it's happening. This interruption is a catalyst to make room for new behavior to form. Recognition, on the spot, loosens the cement on the brick wall that was once built for you. Continuous recognition and interruption of the pattern has the wall come tumbling down, allowing space for a new pattern to automatically be built.
The next step is to find a way to get your intellect out of the way for a portion of each day. Learn to meditate, learn self hypnosis, do yoga, tai chi, or just give yourself some quiet time each day where you can allow your thinking to calm down. Go into this meditation or quiet time with an intention - an intention to outgrow the old way and grow into a new way.
You don't have to understand how this works in order to benefit by it. I've been assisting people into this frame of mind for over 25 years and I don't understand how it works. It's sort of like electricity. I don't know the inner workings of it, but that doesn't prevent me from turning on a light.
These meditations can be as simple as turning a common, everyday occurrence into a spiritual practice. Let's say you want to wash your car. Go about that task with the specific intention of outgrowing the old pattern and making room for the new. Then just go wash the car without giving another thought to your intention. Give your full attention to the task at hand. Part of your mind is working on the solution.
When you go for a walk, dedicate the walk to your intention. When you do the dishes, dedicate that time to your intention. Just about anything can become a spiritual practice, if you associate an intention with the doing of the activity.
If you are in the habit of saying, "That's just the way I am," interrupt yourself and replace that cementing statement with, "I'm noticing a pattern of activity that I'm in the process of outgrowing."
Final thought: if you continue blaming the devil, you create your own living hell.
All the best,
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