Why do we Act the way we do?

I have been fascinated with human behavior and the reasoning for why they act and behave the way they do. This has been helpful to me a range of work environments. I use it regularly to make assessments regarding people and their motives. This is acutely helpful as a counselor, being able to understand people’s motives based on their background or history. Trying to understand them or get inside their heads to see things from their perspective.

This aspect of humanity, the why for our actions, really intrigues me. I mean it really intrigues me. I find myself constantly asking myself questions, trying to understand why they act the way they do.


What happened in their history, motivating them to act in a specific way. The trick is, sometimes these motives are hidden inside us and we don’t even recognize them for what they are – motivations.

There is a mother of some kids at my boys’ school I see sometimes when I go and pick the boys up from school. She is always yelling and putting her kids down. She always has a scowl on her face. Every time I see her, I want to ask her ‘why are you so mad?’


What happened to make her so mad? What in her past history set her on the course leading her to the place of anger? Where has she come from to get to this place? Does she even know she is angry? Does she know why she is angry? Is she aware of how she is treating her kids? Does she know how it makes her look to those around her?

These are the questions I ask myself about other people regularly.

I suppose human behavior doesn’t fascinate me as much as what motivates the human behavior.

The motivation.

What motivates us? This is a complex question with diverse and varied answers depending on who you ask and how self-aware they are. Many times we don’t realize or recognize what our motivations are because we don’t take the time to think them through and figure it out. It is much easier to plow through life responding to the stimuli not thinking about why we are acting the way we are.

It is easier and safer.

Knowing the why behind our actions forces us to deal with the why of the why. When we poke around inside our own minds trying to understand why we are so angry, we are going to be forced to deal with the source of the anger. Or ignore after we find it. But, once we know the cause it is harder to ignore than to just unpack it and figure it out.

Ignorance truly is bliss. It’s kinda like Neo in the Matrix, once you go down the rabbit hole, there is no turning back. You can’t un-know what you know. If we never ask the question of why or search for the answers we will never have to confront the root cause.

I am fascinated by what motivates us to act the way we do.

I love trying to get inside your mind.

Why don’t you lay down on the couch and let’s chat for a bit.



Setbacks. Roadblocks. Speed bumps. Pot holes. Getting knocked down. Challenges. Obstacles.

Whatever you want to call them we all experience them.

I love to trail run. Running is sublime in and of itself, but being able to commune with nature and enjoy the run in that environment is truly a pleasure. The downside to it is that I often get so wrapped up in the moment and the joy that I often don’t notice a root sticking out of the ground invariably I trip and fall. And it hurts. It is surprising. Did I mention it hurts? But you get back up and you keep going. You finish the run. And you don’t hesitate to trail run next time either.

This week, brought me my biggest setback in my counseling program. I have to withdraw from my internship. It really sucks. But it is ok. It is out of my hands. The site I was interning at, didn’t have the number of clients coming in regularly that I need in order to complete the hours I needed to complete. So in order to not jeopardize my placement in the program I am withdrawing, reloading for January and I will start again.

Throughout our lives we will encounter roadblocks, setbacks, challenges, obstacles. What do we do when we encounter them? Do we stay on the ground? Do we admit defeat and give up? It would do no good to give up the trail run after tripping over the root, because you would be stuck on the trail and possibly become food for the next skunk ape to pass by (I live in Florida and the skunk ape is our version of Bigfoot).

We can not let these setbacks define us. We have to be defined by our response to the setbacks. And our response to these setbacks needs to be to get up and try again. We can’t let a few setbacks stand in the way of our goals, dreams and becoming the person we want to be.


Start again.

Keep trying.

Don’t give up.

This is by far the biggest obstacle I’ve encountered in this program, believe me there have been many setbacks, but it will not defeat me. It will not cause me to give up. I will not admit defeat. I will not fail.

What defines us is not whether we experience a setback or not… it is what we do after we encounter them. Do we get back up? Do we stay the course? Do we finish the run?

Not allowing the setbacks to stop us is more descriptive of who we are.

Get up, keep going, don’t stop.

That’s what I’m doing. How are you going to overcome your setback?

Identity Peace

The opposite of an identity crisis.

Right now is a time in my life when I feel that many things define me for who am I. And I am ok with the many pieces that make Eli who he is.

Today, I updated my bio on Twitter and Instagram to read: ‘Jesus defines who i am, additionally i am: broken, husband & dad, counselor, missionary & i like motorcycles.’

I think these are all appropriate. And I could even add a few more. I am currently working at H2O Church Orlando as the family ministries director; I am on staff with GCM as a field missionary (they are the missionary organization that allows me to be at H2O); I am a grad student at Webster University finishing a Master’s in Counseling; I work as a counselor intern at Catholic Charities; I coach my boys soccer team; I lead a life group; I am a runner; and more importantly, I am a father and a husband; and most importantly, I am God’s son.

I don’t always get all these things right. I drop the ball and could do much better than I do. But, for the first time in a long time in my life I am actually maintaining my life with so many balls in the air. I am doing all of those things well enough that I am not failing. I am keeping my head out of the water. Thankfully, I have an incredible wife that God has given me that has provided the frame work for me to be able to be all of these things. The old adage, that behind every good man is a great woman, couldn’t be more true for me.

I owe everything I am to 2 people: Christ and Ronda Westfall. Without them, I would be nothing.

I am not suffering from an identity crisis, I am reveling in an identity peace. God has led me to where he wants me, where he needs me and to where I can be the most effective.

Counselor or Therapist

Yesterday was a significant day for me.

I completed my first counseling session… as the counselor.

I got to be honest I enjoyed this much more than I anticipated I would. It felt great to be able to assist someone else in talking through their feelings. To be able to reaffirm them and the progress they are making in their life. I think I may like this even more than I could have imagined.

It felt good. Although a little weird. Being on the other side of the chair was different for me.

I was anxious, nervous and a little scared going into it. But as we began and the session went on the less nervous, anxious and scared I was. It flowed and I realized that I didn’t have to know all the right things to say at the beginning, I just had to listen and move the discussion where I felt it needed to go to assist them in processing their feelings.

I did know what to say. I did know how to lead the discussion. This shouldn’t surprise me, because I have been ‘counseling’ people for years as a pastor/minister. This is in a different context with rules that are little different, but the theory is the same. The mechanics are the same.

Wow. yesterday was a big day for me.

This journey is going to be a lot of fun.