I enjoy going by a café in the morning on my way to work to grab a cup of coffee before my coaching sessions begin. It’s been 30 days since I purchased coffee there. The owner ran into me at the supermarket and asked what they’d done wrong to have me stop coming by. I replied, “I moved.”
Moving to a new house changed my route to my office. The path to work changed, rendering the café inconveniently out of the way. After this reflection, it confirmed for me that structure drives behavior. That the path between my starting point at home and end point generate a certain order and movement. That business owner of the café could have taken personal responsibility for my not showing up and it’d been reckless. Self-improvement for nothing. Instead my motivation was changed by the structure between my new home and work, different than the old one.
This is often why old patterns can’t be changed. They still remain as the original structure like the riverbed of a river beneath. If we don’t change the riverbed, the flow of the river doesn’t change. This also explains why so many human potential approaches like positive thinking and pattern interruption move us backwards not forwards.
It’s not the destination that shapes the path, it’s where we start from. In our lives, we don’t tend to have a friendly conversation with current reality; truth is an acquired taste. We put a lens over it with our concepts and edit reality instead of see factually.
If we don’t see where we are, it’s because we argue that reality should have been something other than it actually is. This involves the capacity of ‘seeing.’
My path to work involved a coffee purchase. When that underlying structure changed, so did my motivation to buy it. If I want to get to Chicago and thinking I’m starting in Kansas, yet I’m really in Los Angeles, I won’t get there. Therein lies the problem with positive thinking—we don’t form the right path to get is to our destination because truth telling is a threat to our false hopes.
If you’re wondering why things behave as they do in your own life or in others’, consider structure, it’s what holds the answer to why we do what we do. The properties of something are always shaped by the relationship with it and other dynamics within a living system. Patterns define properties.
This is why the bison moved west. The trails led there. This is why a building’s structure leads you back to the door. This is why the blood flows where it goes in the body. Energy moves along the path of least resistance and tends to flow where it’s easiest to go.
When you realize what you have in comparison to what you want, the path will advance in favor of what you want. When you don’t know where you are, good luck, hedge your bets.