The Wise Path/Thrashing

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—Motion without purpose

Being There

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People are thrashing when they are moving but not progressing.

People are thrashing when they are moving but not progressing. They may be busy, they may move fast and far, but at the end of the day, week, month, year, or lifetime it's not clear that much worthwhile has been accomplished.  Essentially they are traveling in small circles, repeating actions endlessly, and their thrashing around does not seem to accomplish anything more than pass time as we entertain ourselves and perhaps our family and friends. Following fads and fashions, denying problems, or repeating ineffective reactions leads the thrasher in never-ending circles. To save energy, some people sink into a malaise and thrash without even moving. The result is wasted opportunities in either case.

Getting There

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It is easy to become complacent and content with mere survival. Don't settle for mediocrity. Once your physiological needs are met, move on to address your psychological needs and the needs of others.

Moving On

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Thrashing is action at the unconscious incompetence learning level. Stop thrashing and get a life! Work toward engagement by taking these steps:

  • Establish meaningful goals.
    • Write them down.
    • Align them with your well-chosen values.
  • Manage your time and actions to meet those goals.
    • Ignore distracting impulses and temptations and direct your activities toward your goals.
    • Ask yourself: “Is what I am doing now the most important thing I can be doing to reach my goals?”
  • Revise your goals from time to time to reflect your progress and align more closely with your evolving values.
    • Clear and effective short-term goals are SMART: Specific, Measurable, Attainable, Realistic, and Timely. Goals that lack our personal commitment are not likely to be achieved.
  • Increase your strength, stamina, and endurance:
  • Overcome or manage any destructive addictions or bad habits:


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The figure links to the states that neighbor this one. This can help orient you to this state both horizontally, showing the emotion and cognition states at this level of development, and vertically showing the action levels before and after this one.

Reactive Thrashing Misinformed