Tool #8:  Recognizing when people have Mistaken Goals

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Rudolph Dreikurs watched children misbehave in
classrooms.  He believed that when they do, they typically
have one or more of four "Mistaken" goals.  Students get
some immediate satisfaction or reward from engaging in
misbehavior.  They satisfy their "mistaken goal(s).
Identifying the "mistaken" goal is like having a glass bottom
boat, or diving beneath the surface.  "Mistaken" goals are
like the "titles" of a list of irrational beliefs someone has.  
For example, someone with the mistaken goal of POWER might have thoughts like:

 You can't tell me what to do
                                                             You can't make me do that
                                                             You can't run my life
                                                             You should leave me alone
                                                              I should be able to do whatever I want to
                                                              I shouldn't have to do what you want me to
                                                              It's really awful having you tell me what to do
                                                              I can't stand being told what to do
                                                              You're an idiot for telling me what to do

If you had to pick a title for such a list, POWER would be the perfect choice.

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Rudolph Dreikurs
Behavior is just the Tip of the Iceberg
Behavior is just the "tip of the iceberg".  "Mistaken" goals
can be a "window" to help people become more aware of  
                                                                            1)  Attention
                                                                            2)  Power
                                                                            3)  Revenge
                                                                            4)  Avoidance of Failure
However, in doing so, they make it less likely they will get
what they could, and might really want in the long run.  For
example, to get along with teachers and other students, or
to succeed in school.  He called them:
People have similar mistaken goals outside the classroom.  
In relationships for example, people often have the
mistaken goals of Power and/or Revenge.
 Having such
mistaken goals cause people to needlessly fight and
argue.  It causes them to undermine their chances of
having the kind of relationship they really might want.   
People can have these mistaken goals for so long that they
lose sight of the "prize".  They lose sight of what they really
wanted in the first place by initiating the relationship.  Many
divorces occur because people get locked into these two
mistaken goals.
Another common mistaken goal is Withdrawal, Avoidance
and Relief.  People often try to withdraw from or avoid
unpleasantness in their lives.  They try to get relief from the
feelings that go with such unpleasantness, even if it's only
temporarily.  This is the common mistaken goal in smoking,
drinking and using drugs.  It's mistaken because the relief is
only temporary.  There are also often short and long term
health costs or other consequences for engaging in such
the thoughts and feelings that give rise to unhealthy,
self-defeating behavior in themselves and each other.
We can use the model Albert Ellis provided us with to work
from the "mistaken" goal down to the underlying thoughts,
attitudes and beliefs.
Once the thoughts, attitudes and beliefs are identified
(Step B), we can tactfully (and even playfully) challenge
and dispute them (Step D).  This will hopefully cause a
significant attitudinal shift.  Until such a attitude shift occurs
(cognitive restructuring), the o
ld thought, attitude or belief
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will likely continue to cause people to generate a
dysfunctional amount of emotion.  It will continue to father
unhealthy, self-defeating behavior that makes their lives and
the lives of others worse.
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