I’ve been posting a series of articles on the ways disordered characters tend to think. The kinds of problems individuals of disturbed character tend to have in their relationships are a direct outgrowth of the “thinking errors” they engage in, so it’s helpful to understand their distorted thinking processes when we’re attempting to understand and deal with their problem behavior patterns. Some of the erroneous thinking I’ve addressed in prior articles include prideful thinking, egomaniacal thinking, impulsive thinking, and combative thinking. See:
- Prideful Thinking
- The Egomaniacal Thinking of the Disturbed Character
- Impulsive Thinking: Thinking only in the Moment
- Having to Win: The Combative Thinking of the Disturbed Character
But by far, one of the most common and problematic ways disordered characters tend to think involves what I refer to as hedonistic thinking.
Disordered characters place a premium on the pursuit of pleasure. They don’t do things unless there’s something in it for them, and they want that something to be sufficiently satisfying. They tend to crave stimulation and excitement and have an inordinate distaste for anything they might regard as “boring,” tedious or mundane. They’re committed to their comfort and hate being inconvenienced or burdened. They think that life owes them a good time and that a life without a steady stream of “highs” is a life not worth living.
I cannot count the number of lives that have been wrecked by a disturbed character’s hedonistic thinking. This most serious error in thinking has sometimes propelled individuals to engage in the most reckless pursuits of pleasure and excitement. Over time, this kind of thinking also tends to lead people to develop an attitude of extreme intolerance for any kind of pain or discomfort. Now, certainly there is some pain that enters our lives that seems to serve no useful purpose. But a lot of what we find uncomfortable or painful has some really potentially positive and constructive benefit. Being willing to bear discomfort in the short term for what is likely to be a longer term payoff is one of the main keys to a mature, healthy lifestyle. But attitudes of patience, endurance and tolerance are almost impossible to cultivate if we’re constantly focused on what will titillate us in the moment. Hedonistic thinkers are simply at war with anything that doesn’t feel good. They can’t find any value in things that cause them distress or are a burden, even if they’d have to endure such things only for a short while. In my work over the years with disordered characters, I focus quite a bit on guiding them toward increased tolerance of the mundane, as well as encouraging them to cultivate the will to bear discomfort. The willingness to tolerate discomfort in the short term for a longer-term reward is absolutely crucial to the development of a healthier character.