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Over a period of about six months, we worked to connect certain tendencies to some of the more negative results he was experiencing. It was hard going at first but, to his credit, he stayed with it. We used several strategies to accelerate the process. For instance, I asked him to keep a detailed journal. This provided a way to talk about results and trace them to behaviors.

I also had him begin to talk to some of his contemporaries about his behavior. He was able to enlist several to the cause. Some of them developed ‘red flags’ that they would wave when he started an intemperate behavior. One was particularly funny. When he started to act up, his ‘monitor’ would mention how good the coffee tasted today. The first time she did this, my client shot back “I don’t care about the damn coffee.” At which point, she fixed him with a sharp glare and said “well, you should – good coffee is a terrible thing to waste!”

We all do things without thinking. What saves us from eternally making the same mistakes and suffering the same consequences is our human ability to learn. Some things you learn by yourself. For others you need the assistance of another human being or two. My client is now off on his own and a real evangelist on the topic of unintended consequences of intemperate actions. Sometimes too much of an evangelist it seems – the other day she tapped him on the shoulder and mentioned how good the coffee tasted today!

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© Dr Earl R Smith II

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