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Inner Decisions

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It's Sheep-Talk

"The definition of insanity is doing the same thing over and over and expecting different results." I was thinking of this quote and was looking for the actual author of the quote -- that, frankly, I've used hundreds or maybe a thousand times. I was a great fan of this quote, until today.

I was unable to attribute the quote to a specific author. It is not Einstein. Probably not Ben Franklin. Not Stephen Covey. Not Mark Twain. Narcotics Anonymous and Rita Mae Brown seem to be arm wrestling this one out. Either way -- any way -- it's an interesting quote, that like many, has more holes than merit, as I was soon to discover.

Just sayin' -- it's sheep-talk

There are many sayings we let glide over our tongues and out of our mouths without thinking them through. Sheep-talk. (That's my word for it, and I just made it up.) Sheep-talk helps us say things, explain things, in a way that is wrong -- but socially acceptable, until it isn't. I'll tackle more sheep-talk in the future, but I want to get back to this one now. Is the definition of insanity doing the same thing over and over and expecting different results? I doubt me using that expression ever helped a single person.

Perseverance vs. Perseveration

In the July 27, 2009 online publication of Psychology Today, Ryan Howes Phd, ABPP in Therapy wrote a dandy piece about"The Definition of Insanity is . . . Perseverance vs. Perseveration".  In this reasonably short piece Howes writes about the sheep-talk quote and the research he did into the origin, what insanity really is, and then offers that perhaps doing the same thing over and over again can bring different results. He explains that perseverance is a form of persistence while perseveration is  pathological repetition. Perseveration is a symptom of a mental health issue. Perseverance is an ingredient for achievement.

Priming the Pump

During An Hour with Spirit this past Sunday morning Meghan and I were giving messages from loved ones on the other side of life. At one point I asked, "Who knows what I mean about priming the pump -- and has a grandparent who actually had such a pump?" I was surprised that four hands went into the air, each with a family story about grandpa or grandma priming the pump. Simply pumping the handle won't bring up the water, however once primed with water down the spout continued pumpling will bring a steady flow. Once stopped, you'll have to start again. The message here was, "Don't stop pumping until you've got all you need." 

Similarly, practicing musical scales on an instrument can be boring, but the practice is the foundation for music as delightfully simple as "Mary Had a Little Lamb" to as wonderfully complex as a Mozart composition. You can't get to either one without practice -- without repetition. Cooking, sewing, dancing, hammering a nail, all begin with awkward outcomes until the person chooses a goal and adds perseverance. You get the idea.

Mea Culpa

Therefore, I am apologizing to all of those people I have accused of useless repetition. I am sorry for demeaning your actions through my ignorance and sheep-talk. You learned to tie your shoes through repetition. You learned to brush your teeth through repetition. You learned to sign your name through repetition, even if no one can read your signature. Nearly everything you do well, you do well because of perseverance. Why wouldn't you think that maybe, just maybe, this time might be different? If you just try harder won't it work this time? What is important is that you decide. You decide when to stop or to keep trying. You decide when repeating  ____________ (you fill in the blank) isn't getting you the results you want. You decide if poor results are better than no results. You decide. And if you decide to change your course, or to stop, it's because you want to. Though change is difficult. Difficult to think about and to put into action. When you're ready to change, if you're ready to change, know there are people to support you.

 


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