Sunday, 31 July 2016

Actions, consequenses and Brexit.

This is the Wellbeing Column published in the York Press on Tuesday, July 26th, 2016.

When writing last month’s column on managing our emotions after life events, little did I realise how prescient I was being. Within days, the English football supporters were grieving their loss, quickly followed by the result of the Referendum, which appeared to cause collective shock worldwide.  Before the Referendum and with a regular call for ‘facts’, I had light-heartily supplied some facts on my Facebook page. They included, that within months, we would hear, “I didn’t think that would happen.” In fact, those words were being expressed within hours of the result.

The words, “I didn’t think that would happen…” transported me to childhood. After yet another misdemeanour, I would try to explain my actions to my furious mother. No sooner had the words, “I didn’t think…(that would happen)”, been uttered, my mother would return the words, “That’s right, you didn’t think.”  

At what age children know right from wrong is a continual point for debate. What we do know, is that the ability to fully comprehend that consequences arise from actions, doesn’t occur until the emotional brain has matured later in life. EQ stands for Emotional Intelligence and has little to do with IQ (Intelligence Quotient.) Hence, when intelligent adults are sometimes emotionally immature, their behaviour is difficult to understand and challenging to work and live with. It is being generated in a different part of their brain from their logical thinking.

Unimagined consequences can continue to occur for months and years from the initial action. It’s called ‘the ripple effect.’ The last few weeks have provided us all with a profound illustration of this effect. Personal comprehension of actions and consequences, usually arrives along with learning to take personal responsibility instead of blaming others.  “It’s not my fault’ is a childish expression, spoken by too many adults. It was only when I was eighteen, that I stopped some anti-social behaviour which had been part of my life for ten years. I suddenly ‘grew up’ and saw the possible consequences of my actions.  To blame domestic circumstances would have been easy, but not helpful in taking me through adult life. 

There are always reasons behind our behaviours, but making them excuses is giving away personal control to change and make a difference. 

“They always say time changes things, but you actually have to change them yourself.”  Andy Warhol