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Tag Archives: Why Smart People do the Same Dumb Things

  • Why Smart Men Do the Same Dumb Things

    Why Smart Men Do the Same Dumb ThingsThe irrationally demanding boss. The temperamental, uncommunicative father. The co-worker who never admits mistakes. The husband who won’t ask for directions. Why do so many men self-sabotage their personal growth and relationships? It’s not just a “guy thing,” says psychologist Dr. Rosalie K. Tatsuguchi. “It’s a ‘Musashi thing.’” And the good news is that change is possible.

    Generations of men, whether they know it or not, have patterned their lives after the legendary warrior Miyamoto Musashi, who practiced bushido, the way of the warrior. His teachings prioritized the suppression of feelings, constant wariness, isolation and the willingness to sacrifice one’s life in service of the clan lord. Followers of Musashi’s way don’t talk much. They don’t consider feelings and emotions relevant to decision making. They are perfectionists. They don’t explain themselves, ask questions or tolerate others’ questions. They are hard on themselves and those around them. Their children and subordinates often fear them. They lack closeness and understanding in their relationships. They are the type of friend who would die for another, but won’t ask about—or reveal—personal troubles.

    This warrior mindset is the basis of Dr. Tatsuguchi’s new book, Why Smart Men Do the Same Dumb Things: A Warrior’s Manual for Change, a follow-up to her previous work, Why Smart People Do the Same Dumb Things: Causes and Cures from Buddhism and Science. This time around, Dr. Tatsuguchi explains the warrior code paradigm and teaches how to differentiate between the appropriate times to be a stern samurai or be open to giving and accepting intimacy. It’s a guide to beginning the process of behavioral change and opening the door to better relationships with peers, friends and family. Dr. Tatsuguchi’s unique approach is rooted in the connection between modern scientific methodology and Buddhist principles of free inquiry and respect for the human spirit. This model of thinking will help readers realize and admit mistakes, correct them and live a more fulfilled, happier life.

    Meet Dr. Tatsuguchi at these three free events: book signing at the Mo‘ili‘ili Hongwanji Bazaar, seminar at the Buddhist Study Center and lecture at Native Books / Na Mea Na Mea Hawai‘i. See event calendar for dates and details.

    In the following excerpt, Dr. Tatsuguchi explains why she wrote the book:

    My father loved all of his six children, of whom I was his fifth. None of us ever doubted his love though he never expressed it. He worked hard, and his life revolved around the church, the community and us. He was born in Hiroshima and immigrated to Hawai‘i with my mother as the first husband-and-wife team of a Jodo Shinshu temple in the late 1920s. He was full of contradictions—good-hearted, yet self-centered and inflexible about his convictions; easily angered, but caring. He was also strong-minded, smart, honest, athletic, handsome and well liked. Although he was raised as a Buddhist minister, he grew up in a Japan that had never lost a war, and like most men of his era he had a warrior upbringing. Unlike his cohorts, he expected all of his children, including his four daughters, to get college educations. On the other hand, none of us could talk to him on an intimate, emotional level—he was truly the stoic, “silent samurai” type. We couldn’t freely tell him about anything we were thinking, feeling or doing. At home, nothing could empty a room faster than his entrance into it. We were all afraid of him. He died when I was thirty-eight years old and during that entire time, I felt close to him on just two occasions.

    Goki Itsuki Kiyomi Tatsuguchi

    Rev. Goki Itsuki Kiyomi Tatsuguchi (July 11, 1898 to August 1, 1978), circa 1916–1920, Ryukoku University
    national championship sumo team captain


    The regret over what I missed with my father led me to write this book for him and the men who are just like him—responsible, deeply caring, strong-willed, smart, honest, athletic, handsome men, who were taught to ignore their emotions and don’t know how to deal with feelings. I have met so many in my practice. Quite a few are respected or well liked, but they are often also self-centered, stern, gruff, angry, difficult to approach, lonely, bewildered and scary to their children and employees. Because of their lack of social skills, they and the people they love miss out on close and rich relationships.

    Men like my father knowingly or unknowingly follow the way of the early samurai who suppressed their feelings, practiced constant wariness, isolated themselves and sacrificed their lives because they were at war; it literally was “do or die.” It’s important to be able to discriminate when you’re at war and when you’re not; who’s your enemy and who’s your friend. It’s important to treat each differently. How many situations and people are you treating as though you are at war? How many people are you inappropriately scaring and how many relationships are you shutting down? Is it time for you to learn about your feelings and how they affect your thoughts and behavior? Would you like to be closer to your wife, children and friends? Are you able to change your mindset and drop your warrior ways when it’s appropriate?

    This book is not about trashing the warrior code paradigm, but about learning to differentiate between when you need to be a stern warrior and when you should give and accept intimacy; when you should be at war or at peace; when you should be silent and uncommunicative or share what’s on your mind. This book can teach you when and how to distinguish between wartime and peacetime modes, dangerous and friendly folks. It can help you learn how to recognize when you are truly in danger, when you are safe and how to let your guard down. To make the most of it, you will need to be able to admit mistakes, hear others out, accept feedback and make corrections.

  • Stop It, Stupid — Five Steps to Stopping the “Stupid Cycle”

    Five tips from Rosalie K. Tatsuguchi, Ph.D., author, Why Smart People Do the Same Dumb Things: Causes and Cures from Buddhism and Science

    • Step back. In order to break the cycle and stop repeating your mistakes, you must first recognize and admit that things are not working.
    • Embrace change. You must be adaptable enough to admit when you are wrong and brave enough to make the correction, even if it makes you uncomfortable.
    • Stop being a human sacrifice. Our society’s unspoken rules mandate helping others, even if they hurt you and are unappreciative of your sacrifice. Giving time, energy and money to unappreciative friends, family members and coworkers is a common bad habit.
    • Nurture Yourself First. Nurturing yourself is vital. It’s like putting on your own oxygen mask first before you help other passengers on a falling plane. If you don’t, you become part of the problem instead of part of the solution.
    • Speak up and stand up. There’s nothing wrong with a selfless sacrifice every now and then. It is when you continue to allow others to take advantage of your reluctance to say “no” that you end up in trouble. Don’t hesitate to say, “No, I cannot do this."

    Meet Dr. Tatsuguchi at her book signing on Thursday, November 15, from 10AM to noon at the Kuakini Hospital Gift Shop (347 North Kuakini St.).

  • Why Smart People Do the Same Dumb Things

    You're a smart person, right? But we bet you've found yourself wondering how you've ended up doing the same dumb thing AGAIN. We've all done it—expected a different outcome when we haven't changed a thing about what we're doing; let the same person take advantage of us for the umpteenth time; said "yes" when we promised ourselves we'd say "no."

    Why can't we stop? Why do we do this over and over again?

    Psychologist Dr. Rosalie Tatsuguchi identifies the most common culprit as the ingrained belief systems we hold—our personal paradigms, the rules that dictate our lives. Why do we develop these paradigms and how do we break out of the problematic patterns that prevent us from leading happy lives? How does the cultural landscape of Hawaii contribute to developing these paradigms? Dr. Tatsuguchi offers ways to realize our mistakes and strategies for making meaningful changes in our lives in her new book, Why Smart People Do the Same Dumb Things.

    Dr. Tatsuguchi's book is in stores now, and available at our online shop. You can meet her at an upcoming presentation (see below) at the Japanese Cultural Center of Hawaii and hear her explain the concepts outlined in Why Smart People Do the Same Dumb Things. And be sure to tune in to Sunrise on Hawaii News Now on Mon., July 30 at 8:10AM (broadcasting on KFVE or streaming live online) and "Thinking Out Loud" on KZOO (1210AM) Radio on Mon., July 30 at 6:30pm for interviews with her.

    Presentation & Book  Signing
    Sat., Aug. 11
    1:00 – 2:00pm
    Japanese Cultural Center of Hawaii
    2454 S. Beretania St. / (808) 945-7633

    Here's a sampling of advice from Dr. Tatsuguchi's book (and her presentation):

    How We Develop Personal Paradigms & Problems:

    •  “Dog bite” Rules—A “dog bite” rule is one that you learned to help you efficiently respond to danger or threats but are now taking to extremes. It generally leads you to make mistakes by overreacting, repeating mistakes and wasting time, energy and emotions. You will miss out on a lot unless you learn to manage that response. Subconscious dog bite rules can be a primary source of repeated mistakes for smart people.
    •  Case Study: “Carrie”—For as long as she can remember, Carrie’s older brother resented her birth and existence. She was made to defer to him in all things. He was physically and emotionally abusive to her, but her parents did not stop him and usually blamed her for upsetting him. Carrie learned to suffer in silence, keep out of her brother’s way, and try to handle things on her own. This continued as an adult, such that if something happened at work, it never occurred to her to complain or ask for help. Her dog bite rule said: No one will help; no matter what goes wrong it’s my fault, so I’ll just suffer in silence, handle things on my own and keep working. It’s my responsibility to anticipate and fix all problems in order to avert blow-ups. Because she was not consciously aware of these rules running her life, she was always mentally and physically overwhelmed, both personally and professionally.

    What Can We Do To Change Our Paradigms?

    • Change Requires Making Corrections and Adaptability—Dealing with change requires the ability to see and admit whether things are working or not. You must be able to be adaptable enough to admit when you are wrong and brave enough to make the correction. Not making corrections perpetuates and multiplies the effects of the error. Problems become more difficult to correct because you have to interact with other people and the simple mistake gets complicated by their needs. Below are some examples of types of people who find it difficult to make corrections:

    o The Entitled One: I’m Never Wrong, So I Don’t Have to Fix Anything
    o The Charming Rascal: I’m Truly Sorry I Made a Mistake, But I Did It Again and I Am Not Going to Stop
    o The Warrior: I Won’t Talk About It, But I’ll Try to Fix It

    • Human Sacrifice is Illegal, and It Doesn’t Work—Japanese Buddhist self-sacrifice rules come from the idea that life is full of suffering; Gautama gave up a life of luxury and suffered for seven years to seek the Enlightenment that he shared with humankind. Roman Catholic rules of self-sacrifice come from the example of Christ’s willing acceptance of his own crucifixion and forgiveness of his persecutors in order to bring the word of God to humanity. The unspoken rules say you have to suffer in order to be truly helpful and to help others until you suffer: Give until you can’t give anymore, then give some more, and don’t brag or complain about it. The unspoken rules mandate helping others, even though they hurt you and are unappreciative of your sacrifice. In other words, you aren’t really helping others unless you suffer in the process of helping. This is another dog bite rule that has underlying merit but when taken to extremes leads to dumb mistakes.
    • Nurture Yourself First—Nurturing yourself is vital. It’s like putting on your own oxygen mask first before you help other passengers on a falling plane. If you don’t, you become part of the problem instead of part of the solution. Most of my clients have a difficult time protecting and nurturing themselves because they have been taught that it is selfish to do so. They often feel so much guilt it drives them to exhaustion. They burn out because they give too much. Then they become part of the problem instead of part of the solution.

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