the following is my analysis of Dr McGraw's book, I am pretty sure he
won't mind me promoting his book as although there following is a reasonable
summary, you really need to read his book to fully understand what he is
getting at, and if you haven't read it, and this makes sense to you &
you overcome any misconceptions of the good doctor, then I'm sure you will
want to check it out.
Society is suffering from dysfunctional behaviour patterns resulting from
ignorance of the real rules of the game of life.
Knowledge of these rules are not instinctual but must be actively learned
but unfortunately, not many people, and certainly, very few parents actually
teach us these rules. Nobody teaches us how to be married or even how to
pick a mate or why to pick a mate. We don't know how to manage our emotions
once we're in a marriage. We don't know how to resolve marital conflict. We
are not usually taught why we or our spouses feel the way we do or act they
way we do. Only a minority are taught to manage our own impulses, the
majority develop obesity as a result. Kids turn to drugs because nobody ever
taught people how to parent their children in a way that keeps them from
needing to turn to drugs to feel the way they want to feel.
Since we do not get formal training from society, we rely on the role
models in our lives (who usually are no better equipped) and if they are it
may more be blind luck or trial and error that they got it right).
Thus, it is likely we all lack certain fundamental crucial information and
that much of the information we have is wrong, and the hardest part in
learning something new is unlearning the old way of doing it.
This is further compounded by the tendency of society to encourage the use
of excuses for mediocrity or failure in life and encourage of a
"victim" mentality more concerned with why we behave
dysfunctionally like we do rather than concentrating on changing our
behaviour to be positive constructive behaviour that will more likely result
in future successes than dwell on the misery of the past.
If behaviour patterns are not working for you, whether it is at your
employment, your relationships or your children, then no matter how
"right" you believe you are or how unfair the world may seem,
there is no point persisting with these without objectively analysing them
and seeing if there are other behaviour patterns that will work. If you do
not analyse and modify your behaviour, it is unlikely anyone else will, and
you will forever be muddling along in a life of mediocrity, or worse a
loser. YOU are responsible for your own happiness and success, and no one
learn how and why you and others behave as you do and this will enable
you to manage not only your own behaviour but those around you.
knowledge of the rules of the game give you more power, control and
likelihood of successes than physical looks, intelligence or money.
if you don't get it, you will always be coming off second best to
those that do.
failure is no accident. You set yourself up for it or you don't.
the clod that speaks without having any sensitivity to his impact on
other people, just does not get it.
"know-it-alls" are insufferable bores, tedious and harmful
to others, they suffer their own form of self-paralysis: If they already
know it all, why would they be the slightest bit open or sensitive to
opportunities to gain new information? They are totally closed to new
information that may contradict their strongly held & poorly founded
beliefs. They are stuck in wrong-thinking and are proud of it. This
paralysis paves the way for prejudice, bigotry and all manner of
closed-minded, judgmental behaviour. Unfortunately, it is a very common
trait which has spawned wars and suffering for centuries.
Gray Dog Wisdom:
There ain't no Santa Claus, there ain't no pony, and Elvis is way
dead. If your life is going to get better around here, it will be
because you make it better. Pray to God, but row for the
Before your life can go in the right direction, you have to pull
your head out and stop going in the wrong direction.
You don't have to stick your hand in your blender to know that its
not the best idea to put hands in blenders
Make a plan and work the plan. Life is not a dress rehearsal.
They will use you if you let them. When they come around thinning
the herd, or taking away people's lunch money, get a really serious
look on your face, and dig in.
Life is a competition. They are keeping score, and there is
a time clock.
To really understand someone, at a minimum, you need to know:
what do they value most in their lives - ethics, money, success,
strength, compassion? What really matters?
what are their expectancies and beliefs about how life does and
what resistances or predispositions - fears, biases, prejudices -
do they have?
what positions, approaches, or philosophies are they most likely
to reject or accept?
what do they need to hear from a person in order to conclude that
the person is fundamentally "okay" and to be trusted?
what sort of things do the consider relevant?
how do they feel about themselves?
what do they want most in their lives?
10 most common traits:
the number one fear among all people is rejection.
the number one need among all people is acceptance.
to manage people effectively, you must do it in a way that
protects or enhances their self-esteem.
everybody approaches every situation with at least some concern
about "what's in it for me?"
everybody prefers to talk about things that are important to them
people hear & incorporate only what they understand.
people like, trust and believe those who like them.
people often do things for other than the apparent reasons.
even people of quality can be, and often are, petty and small.
everybody wears a social mask. You must look beyond the mask to
see the person.
#2. You create your own experience:
you are accountable for your life. Good or bad, successful or
unsuccessful, happy or sad, fair or unfair, you own your life.
like it or not, if you don't accept accountability, you will
misdiagnose every problem you have. If you misdiagnose it, you will
mistreat it. If you mistreat, things won't get better, plain and simple.
by convincing yourself that you are a victim, you are guaranteed to
have no progress, no healing and no victory. You will not successfully
create meaningful and lasting changes in your life.
you can play being a victim by either:
insist that someone is being mean, unfair or ugly to you;
believe that you are right, those that disagree with you are
wrong, and therefore it is not your fault that things are at an
impasse. Even if this is true, you still have ownership of the
problem so you need to create the results you want! If they won't
listen then this is a direct result of your inability to get them to
hear you. You are NOT a victim.
if in any part of your life, you are angry, hurt, or upset in any way,
then you own those feelings, and are accountable for their presence in
You are not a victim. You are creating the situations you are
in; You are creating the emotions that flow from those situations. You
must be willing to move your position, and however difficult or unusual
it may seem, embrace the fact that you own the problem.
look back on life and work out how you behaved and understand what
choices you made that led to what results.
there is no point blaming past abuse, your parents, your teachers, bad
luck, or some kind of cosmic backlash.
if you are an adult, living independently, free from dementia, a brain
tumour, or some other involuntary disruption to your thinking, then you
are accountable. You do have the ability to choose your reaction to
negative childhood events and circumstances, no matter how unfair - you
can choose to no longer be a victim. The bad news is the burden is yours
but the good news is that the choices are yours.
the problem is that it is at the very core of human nature to blame
other people, it is fundamental self-preservation to try to escape
accountability. You don't want things to be your responsibility, so you
will go to any extreme of rationalisation and justification to explain
why they are not. This is especially true if we are talking about an
emotionally charged area of your life such as your marriage.
you will never, ever fix your problems blaming someone else. That is
for losers. Don't be a sucker because it hurts to admit the truth.
You're the one screwing up, if anybody is. The sooner you accept that,
the sooner your life gets better.
whatever choices in thinking or behaviour you make, they have
if you choose really stupid behaviour, you are likely to
experience severe, negative consequences.
if you choose to live recklessly & without a regard to
personal safety, you choose the likely consequence of pain, injury
and lifelong disability.
if you choose the behaviour of staying with a sick &
destructive partner, then you choose the consequence of pain &
suffering in your emotional life.
if you choose the behaviour of drug & alcohol abuse, then you
create an experience of a dark & sick world.
if you choose thoughts that demean & deprecate you, then you
choose the consequence of low self-esteem & low self-confidence.
if you choose thoughts of anger & bitterness, then you will
create an experience of alienation, isolation & hostility.
principle of reciprocity:
the manner, style & level you use to engage people will
determine how they respond to you.
you "get what you give".
#3. People do what works:
identify the payoffs that drive your behaviour & that of others.
Control the payoffs to control your life.
you only repeat behaviours if there is something in it for you ie.
repetitive behaviours are learned
behaviours based on conscious or sub-conscious rewards such as
financial, acceptance, approval, praise, love, companionship, intimacy,
greed, punishment, fulfillment, security, inner peace, sense of
morality, inner awareness of a job well-done, physical well-being,
dominance, avoidance of pain, fear of rejection and immediate vs delayed
repeated undesirable behaviours or bad habits must also have some
rewards which may be at the subconscious level.
for example, over-eating disorders may be due to a number of
subconscious rewards including:
weight gain to decrease sexual attractiveness and thus hiding
her sexuality to avoid guilt & anxieties felt when men take
a sexual interest. Once months have passed with little attention
from men & those feelings are replaced by loneliness, an
anorexic phase may ensue forming a vicious cycle.
you cannot eliminate these negative behaviours without understanding
why you do them. But they seem irrational and usually occur when
you are in "automatic" mode and not rationalising your
look at how you reward undesirable behaviours of those around you.
are you addicted , invisibly, to the sense of security that comes from
avoiding the pain and risk of intimacy, of failure, simply of living?
if what you want in life is neither present nor being worked towards,
it might be wise to examine your life and see what's keeping you
#4. You can't change what you don't
get real with yourself about your life & everybody in it. Be
truthful about what isn't working in your life. Stop making excuses and
start making results.
if you are unwilling to acknowledge a thought, circumstance, problem,
condition, behaviour or emotion - if you won't take ownership of your
role in a situation - then you cannot and will not change it. What you
do not acknowledge will get worse until you do. Over-reacting to
seemingly insignificant events is usually due to pent up emotions from
denial is what kills dreams, it kills hope, it kills what might have
been a real chance to overcome a problem had the solution just been
pursued in time. Denial can blind you to warning signs and to
deterioration in your relationships. Denial can quite literally kill you
by blinding you to problems ("this can't be true") &
preventing you from reacting to them in a timely fashion.
what most people want in adversity is validation and reinforcement f
their thinking, not the truth - "You can't handle the truth!"
has some accuracy.
your life is not too bad to fix & its not too late to fix it -
but be honest about what needs fixing.
#5. Life rewards action:
make careful decisions and then pull the trigger. Learn the world
couldn't care less about thoughts without actions.
if you behave in purposeless, meaningless, unconstructive ways, you
get inferior results.
if you behave in purposeful, meaningful, constructive ways, you get
people don't care about your intentions. They care about what you do.
What signals do you send the world?
the road to hell is paved with good intentions. Intentions without
actions only lead you down.
procrastination is the bane of human existence.
the difference between winners and losers is that winners do things
that losers don't want to do.
to live is to take risks although not
foolish risks. Fear of taking risks perhaps because of fear of rejection
or intimacy means losing out on living and becoming stuck in a rut. You
need to get out of your comfort zone.
are you in a rut (answer yes to 8 or more):
do you spend much of free time watching sitcoms or blood &
guts dramas on TV?
when at home do you put on the same house dress, T-shirt &
baggy shorts or pyjamas so often its regarded as your uniform?
do you stand at the fridge, staring into it as if you might
discover something that wasn't there when you looked 5 minutes ago?
do you treat life as a spectator sport, and you are in the cheap
do you actually live vicariously through characters on TV &
discuss them as though they are real people?
do you count & recount the items in your grocery cart before
you venture to the express lane?
is your job or your kids all you ever talk about?
on the rare occasions you decide to go out, do you spend 30min
debating where to go?
do you only eat at places where you have to look up rather than
down at the menu?
do you have sex quarterly, and in less than 4 min so you can
time it with commercial breaks?
do you fantasize about things you never actually do?
are you suspicious of people who look really happy because it
doesn't seem possible?
do you have a lesser standard of conduct when you are alone than
when you are with others?
is the most exciting thing that's ever likely to occur in your
life something that already happened?
when you wake up, do you dread starting another day?
do you feel alone, even when people are around?
do your appearance and your standards of personal grooming seem to
be on the decline?
is your goal in life simply to get by for another week or month?
do you say "no" a really high percentage of the time, no
matter what the question is?
in order to meet someone new, would they need to throw themselves
on the hood of your car, or pull a chair up in front of your TV set?
make life decisions - convictions that form your psychological
& behavioural bedrock, the fundamental values you incorporate into
your soul such as:
I will not be physically or verbally abusive toward my children or
I will live my life with integrity - that I will not lie and will
I will not fight in front of my children
I will not ask children to deal with or be burdened by adult
I will not resort to physical violence
I will take care of myself, so that I can take care of others
#6. There is no reality, only
Identify the filters through which you view the world. Acknowledge
your history without being controlled by it.
this determines whether or not you are happy, satisfied and at peace.
no matter what happens to you in life, how you interpret that event is
up to you.
we often make assumptions and fail to test them and then treat them as
gospel truth resulting in behaviour based on a untested perception
rather than reality.
fixed beliefs are one type of filter that we must be aware of and one
that we no longer test for validity, but you must try to re-visit these
beliefs are continually check them for validity as we & the world
are constantly changing.
#7. Life is managed. It is not cured:
learn to take charge of your life & hold on. This is a long ride,
and you are the driver every single day.
never in your life are you without problems and challenges.
the world is not evil, it is just the world, it is not to be feared,
just managed, and the key to managing it is having this consciously
you as your life manager should be:
keeping you safe from taking foolish risks
putting you in situations where you can utilise all of your skills
creating opportunities for you to get what you really want out of
taking care of your health & well-being, physically, mentally,
emotionally and spiritually
selecting and pursuing relationships in which you can be healthy
requiring you to reach and stretch for those things that will keep
you fresh, young and alive
designing your day-to-day flow so that you enjoy some peace and tranquility
arranging for some fun and recreation in your life
structuring your world so that there is balance among those things
you consider to be important
accepting, acknowledging & applying to you personally the 10
committing to resolve rather than endure your personal problems
attempt to answer those 'what if' questions rather than leave them
unanswered and let them gnaw at you
refuse to live with unfinished emotional business
identifying when you are hurting, angry, frustrated, or confused
& call time out to deal with it.
honor your agreements, whether they are with yourself or with
others, especially your children and spouse.
#8. We teach people how to treat us:
own rather than complain about, how people treat you. Learn to
renegotiate your relationships to have what you want.
you shape the behaviourof those with whom you interact.
#9. There is power in forgiveness:
open your eyes to what anger and resentment are doing to you. Take
your power back from those who have hurt you.
of all human emotions, hate, anger & resentment are among the most
powerful & self-destructive.
you may believe that the person who hurt you deserves these emotions
within you, but to harbour these is to pay an unbelievably high price,
for the reality is that those feelings change who you are. They change
your heart and mind. They can become so pervasive in your mind as to
crowd out every other feeling, eating away at your heart and soul.
in addition to imprisoning you, they tend to spill over and impact
your other relationships. They change what you do and contaminate what
you have to give.
the resulting mask you wear, gives people little choice in how they
react to you.
forgiveness for those who transgressed you s not about them, it is
about you - you will free yourself.
#10. You have to name it to claim it:
get clear about what you want and take your turn.
the most you will ever get is what you ask for.
"be careful of what you pray for, because you might just get
often it is not really a desired object that we want but the feeling
associated with it. Be very careful of advertising as this is designed
to confuse what we really want. Look at other ways of achieving that
feeling instead of spending hard-earned cash for a transient feeling.
opportunities for getting what you want have a time limit and will
expire if not taken.