You are not your behaviours

One of the most important principles I work with is: “A person is not their behaviours”

What do I mean with that?

You know, how I always break everything down into a behaviour? You don’t have anxiety. Instead we agree that sometimes you are doing anxiety…
And there are certain circumstances, situations that trigger that software program to start running. Hence anxiety (or whatever else) is not something that you have but something you do.

The value of a person

In my line of work we hold the value of a person constant. We don’t judge. We accept that everybody makes mistakes. 

Which means that we are not our mistakes…  You are you! And your mistake, are your mistakes. Likewise you are not your faults. And you are not faulty.

When you associate yourself too closely with the negative stuff it’s easy to get stuck with it. When you realise you are not your mistakes or faults or dodgy behaviours, then it is so much easier to take responsibility and do whatever it takes to rectify the behaviour. 

The hardware is fine. The software is dodgy…

That’s the analogy I often use.

It’s important to keep in mind that this is not an excuse. Neither is it a reason to play the blame game. Of course we could blame our circumstances, the upbringing, other people, our health, our living conditions, the boss or whatever else but that has never changed anything. 

Taking responsibility changes everything.  

Boundaries and worth

Now, let’s not confuse all the above with weak boundaries. With always being forgiving and allowing our integrity, our values, what is dear to us and our boundaries to be trampled on. No. Not at all!

Boundaries are super important. 

(More about boundaries another time) So what do we do when we are faced with people, who’s behaviours go against our values? 

You hold the worth of the person constant. You seperate the behaviour from the person. But do you necessarily let the person stick around or do you spend time with them? Well, that’s up to you to make that decision…

Think about this way: They don’t respect your boundaries. It’s okay to make your boundaries clear. If they receptively overstep your boundaries they clearly don’t respect your boundaries or share the same values. And relationships work to the degree that the values are aligned. (More about that another time)

Now it’s your turn to to forgive the person and separate their actions from them. And still choose to make sure that behaviour is never repeated around you. 

As a very wise client of mine once said: “I still love the person. I will just need to love from afar…”

So here is the deal: People are not their behaviours AND you don’t need to have the behaviour following you around.

Identity vs Behaviour

Here is a further distinction

When you don’t achieve something you set out to do there is huge difference between “I failed” and “I am a failure”. Or between “That was a bit of a useless move” or “I am useless”. 

With the first you are giving yourself the opportunity to check it out and go “Okay I failed at that / it was not a great move, so what do I need to learn? what do I need to change? What do I need to get better at? How am I going to make it happen next time…?” You’d know you still have worth. Worth doesn’t even enter the equation. Hence there really is no room for shame or self-loathing. Winning! 

I always have huge respect for anyone coming to see me. Because a lot of people don’t know any of the above until they come to see me. Sometimes they even think they are broken and need to be fixed. Which couldn’t be any further from the truth! You are not broken. You just need to get rid of old buggy programs. 

The simple fact that people are not their behaviours means you can change your behaviour. It also means you can be the person you want to be! (How exciting is that…?) So you can empower yourself by breaking free from the chains that bound you to your previous behaviour and be the person you want to be. 

We are all so much more than our current behaviours. We are capable of so much more if we choose to be.

The choice is yours!

Totally I am grateful for all the wonderful people I have in my life. I am truly blessed.

Yours in happiness and wellbeing


More on self-worth

Thanks to everyone who sent in some questions, feedback or shared their own struggles with self worth. Let me answer it in the best way I know how.

Some feedback / questions from you:
1) But doesn’t our self-worth go up when we get a promotion at work? Earn more money? Win a race? Our kids do well at school? We are liked? 

2) I really don’t feel that I have any worth when I stuff up at work, my kids go off the rails, lose my job or health, don’t qualify in a race I was expected to win, (the list goes on)… 

3) But we have been taught form early age that your better when you win the race / coming 2nd is the first loser, have to be in the top x% of the class, get the “with honours”, the ‘better’ title on the business card… (again, the list goes on) 

Okay, here is my first question: if your best friend lost her job would she be worthless to you? What if she had no money? What if his kids went of the rails? What if your best friend never graduated from anything other than Kindy? Worthless, right? 

No! of course not! Your friend still has worth… 

Second question: Ready?
How come those same rules don’t apply to you…? 

Ponder that…

Yes, I agree, those things above, it’s what we grew up with, it’s what we learned, which is why we believe it… Repeat: “we believe it”… 

More often than not people attach their sense of self worth to how well they are doing in life… 

In that model of thinking: When we are doing well our self-worth goes up and when we are not doing well our self-worth goes down.
Wow, what a constant rollercoaster… 

Okay, first of all: “doing well”… According to whom…? Compared to what? 

I’m sure we all have a different definition of what “doing well’ means: Earning X dollars, being liked, having a certain title on the business card, having a book published, being a good mum (good luck measuring that or waiting for your kids to thank you), behaving to a certain standard, being healthy or fit, the kids doing well… And on and on the list goes…

You do not have any control over many of the contributing factors, which make it possible for to reach your goal or not. 

You can’t control who the kids meet, what other people think, whether the supplier delivers on time, whether the boss has already decided on someone else, nor a global financial crisis, the weather and most certainly not what other people think… 

Of course, there is a lot you can do, to stack the cards in your favour. You help the kids learn great values, you do great work, you apply yourself, you put good systems in place, install the firewall, use common sense, you eat healthy and work out, you take time out for yourself and still… 

No matter how much you try to control life there will always be things you have no influence over whatsoever. Sorry to be so blunt.

The only thing you can control is how you respond to whatever life throws at you. (Which is a learned skill and we can get better at it.)

So would you agree that it’s not a great idea to attach your self worth to something that is largely outside of their own control…? 

Would you want your kids to live like that? Can you imagine how much pressure that would put on them? 

Don’t get me wrong, it’s not about being under achievers… Not at all! Quite the contrary.

Of course you want to do well! Of course you want your kids to do well! Heck yeah! 

But do it for no other reason than because you want to! You want to see just how fast you can run… How far you can push the envelope… How well you can treat people… How you get to the point where your kids thank you for being a great parent once they’re in the thirties… See if you can get that promotion because it’ll make you grow and learn and contribute… If you can win that gold medal… 

Yessss! And yes!! Go for all of that!!! And more!
And do it because you want to! 

Can you imagine what a relief it is to go for it just because you want to? Knowing your self worth is a given no matter what. How much more fun it’ll be going for it only because you want to?

Don’t ever fall into the trap of believing, your self-worth depends on reaching that goal. It doesn’t!

Never hang your self-worth on that hook. It’s a trap. 

Of course I want you to read my emails and think about them, talk to friends about the ideas I put out in this world. And I am stoked when you forward one of my emails to someone you care about! Or hit reply and share your thoughts on the matter with me. Of course I am!

But do I attach my self worth to that? 

I make sure I don’t (and when I catch myself doing it, I have a stern talking to myself.) 

Then I use any and all feedback I get, to learn and improve. Which is why your feedback is so valuable to me! It’s the fastest way to improve. 

So, if you have any comments or questions, just let me know! 

Today I am grateful for every single person reading this. And for everyone who has given me feedback. Any feedback. 

And I am eternally grateful for my old girl sleeping under my table, making sure she’ll wake up should I move… So contented, so in the moment… I bet she doesn’t apply her self-worth to anything. She just knows she’s got it!
And now I’m off to take her for a swim…

Yours in happiness and wellbeing



The often elusive Self-worth

Are you ready for this?

Your worth is a given! 

You can’t earn your worth and you can’t lose your worth.

That’s all! Your worth is a given. 

Thank you for reading. 

Write it on a card and carry it with you everywhere. Write it on your mirror.

Your worth is a given, you can’t earn any. And you can’t lose any!

Today I am grateful for constantly being reminded of this, often times through the work I do with my clients. It’s the single most simple lesson to understand and one of the more complicated lessons to feel, live and breathe. Do it anyway!

I am grateful for being me, warts and all…