The art of explaining behaviour

I am currently reading a book called ” positive psychology” and a portion of a chapter captured my attention since it was something that I have been thinking about for a long time. I want to call it a ” poison” for destroying good relationships and also a ” barrier” to build a good relationship with others. Anyone who is having hard time to socialise must be making this mistake. It is how we explain others and our own behaviour. 

” why did he / she do that?” is the question we all have asked at least once in our life time and it is always confusing to understand why someone did what they did, especially a hurtful and disappointing behaviour. When we try to answer thing question, we often answer it from our own point of view instead of reaching out to the person directly and ask them why they did it. And, of course, sometimes we cannot really reach out to this person directly. Whatever the situation is, when we explain others behaviour from our own perspective, we likely to come up with a wrong explanation. The way we explain others behaviour is heavily influence by our own experiences, beliefs, expectations. Psychologist have identified a term called fundamental attribution error. What this term stands for is that when we explain other´s behaviour, we often ignore the role of the environment ( contextual influence) and we attribute the behaviour to the other person´s internal characteristic, his/ her personality. But when we explain our own negative behaviour, we often attribute it to the environmental factors. For example, if you miss a bus that it drove away right when you arrived the bus station, you get angry to the bus driver that he didn’t wait for just another minute, instead of put the blame on yourself that you didn’t leave the house little bit earlier.

This way of explaining behaviour of others and our own, not only ruins our relationships, but also make us the victim of others and our environment. This victimised feeling paralysis you and make you feel weak. You no loner have the strength to take control of your own life. You will end up believing that others has the upper hand, and that they have the ability to hurt you and leave you and do whatever they did to make you feel bad. And even your environment is not allowing you to do anything better. This way of thinking cause many people to become hopeless and helpless.

So what is the art of explaining things around us? Well, First and foremost, when someone did something which make you wonder that ” why did he/she do that?” try to consider the environmental influences. Maybe he had a bad day, maybe she is just tired from a long day work. The point it, do not make this personal, do not think that you are the reason why they behave in this way. You are not responsible for anyone´s behaviour except your own. When you do this, you not only be able to forgive others, but also gain back your personal strength by not feeling weak and victimised.

When it comes to explaining your own failure or bad behaviour, try to take responsibility, try to look inside of you for the reasons why you did it. This doesn’t mean to blame yourself and bit yourself up. No, absolutely not. This means talk to yourself as if you talk to a little child who made a mistake. You want to correct this child´s mistake so that he won´t be corrupted when he grow up. This is exactly what you should do with your mistakes. It is ok to make mistakes, but it is not ok to dismiss them and not try to avoid making them again. Taking responsibility for your actions is what gives back your personal power.

Lots of Love


Literature : Positive psychology : the science and practical exploration of human strength. C.R. Snyder, Shane J. Lopez, Jennifer Teramoto Pedrotti. Second edition.


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