Why You Should Assume Pain To Be the Root Cause of Bad Behavior

Disclaimer: This article is not about criminal behavior. It is about bad social behavior in day-to-day life. 


Bad behavior is behavior which damages others or oneself. Effective reaction to, and management of, others’ bad behavior is dependent on feeling empathy toward them. The development of empathetic thinking leads to the understanding that pain is most often the root cause of exhibited bad behaviors.

The understanding of pain being the cause of behaviors detrimental to one’s family, team, circle of friends, or oneself leads to good options for you as a manager in that equation. There is a tangible benefit to you when observing others’ bad actions from an empathetic perspective.

The goal of efficient and successful management of people does not encourage punishing reactions to their bad behavior. Bad behavior can encourage reactionary thinking which manifests as regrettable reaction(s) on your part.

This article is an argument against an immediate inclination to punish and demonize those whose behavior damages progress within a team setting.


Fear Propagating the Cycle of Pain, Seek To Stifle It


An actor is unlikely to admit to being hurt when they’re being punished for hurting others. Punishing reactions put people on the defensive; they encourage a competition of authority and a refusal to submit. Your reactionary measures can blind you to reasons as to why certain people exhibit certain damaging behaviors. Whilst blinding yourself, you’ll notice those you seek to punish double down on their thoughts and actions out of a desire to not exhibit weakness. They will hide real, sensitive reasons for why they’ve behaved in the manner that they have.

Whether at home, at work, or in business, understanding the root causes of behavior deemed detrimental to oneself or the team is a goal to strive for. By discovering the root cause of certain actions by members of your team, you’ll be armed to prevent, control, and account for their future tendencies to do the same.

A principal mistake managers can make is to be ignorant to pain in the bad actor – them being previously hurt – to be the cause of their damaging acts. Managers of people often interpret the malice behind bad behavior to have been birthed within the person they witnessed behave badly.

The malice and pain which encourages one to behave badly is often far into its propagating cycle at the time of you discovering it in one specific individual. It has been iterated across people, and the person whose behavior you deem bad is simply another one affected by the cycle of pain that bad behavior seeks to spread.

In a twisted way, a person’s act of behaving badly can be involuntary self-imposed therapy. To be punishing without being understanding in such a case can make that individual feel devastatingly alone. They’d have been acting out in pain, seeking help without knowing it perhaps, only to find punishment awaiting. A lack of empathy in the face of every such instance will ignore pain as it propels itself from person to person and will only propagate it.

It is wise to detach an individual from the pain that they have spread with their bad behaviors. Understand the pain they spread to be its own entity; to have originated far before being felt by the individual behaving poorly.

Such an outlook will position you better to nip bad behavior in the bud.


Limitation of Future Bad Behavior Is Likelier When Motivating Forces Are Extinguished


You’ll be armed to extinguish the cycle of damaging behavior when you’re open to the idea of pain being its own entity without having an individual as its source. Addressing the pain a bad actor may be feeling is difficult to do when that individual has already sought to pass that pain on to others.

A thing to remember when attempting to stop pain in its tracks is to understand those who act out against the grain to be victims first, until evidence proves otherwise. Know pain, and how it causes those it infects to act out in damaging ways to spread it. You’ll find that easing pain in all whom it affects follows similar themes and methodologies because pain itself does not change in its structure and effect. Only the victim changes as pain is passed from one to another.

Pain seeks to be recognized first and foremost. Soothing pain entails not laying blame on its host, or anyone else, but recognizing it as its own thing. It involves offering helping hands to overcome, providing support where needed, and addressing why pain has infected someone to the point of behaving badly. The exercise of rehabilitating a bad actor involves supporting them in overcoming their pain – if rehabilitating is in fact the goal.

It goes without saying that you must protect others from being hurt by individuals whose behavior is driven by pain. Remember the difference between punishment and protection though. It isn’t always necessary to punish the bad actor whilst protecting others. Separation, distance and education do the trick, punishment does not seem vital.

Educate victims of others’ pain as to why the individual causing trouble may be acting in such a way. Explain the potential pain and injustice the troubling individual has experienced, and encourage others who may have been victimized by such a person to adopt an empathetic and forgiving mindset. Ensure those around the individual acting out in pain understand the individual to be a victim, and not a threat. Influse distance and time between potential victims and those currently infected with past pain.


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Disclaimer of Opinion: This article is presented only as opinion. It does not make any scientific, factual, or legal claims in any way.