Creative Connections & Client Communications

Counseling Insights Dec 31, 2004

Changing Your Horoscope!

Long ago, I heard student stories about a teacher in the Chicago area ‘way back when’ who had an intriguing exercise for his students: he instructed them to draw a horoscope (by hand in those days, of course) with any distribution of signs and planets the students wished. –Think that through: on the paper, you could specify the Ascendant as you wanted it. You could pick a birthday Sun and aspect it any way you wished. You could put the “tough guys” out of the way, etc.

You would have this horoscope before you constructed in a highly individualized and highly subjective way. You would have benefited strongly from thinking all the choices through; why would you choose this or that position for Mercury or for Mars? Why would you avoid this position or that for Neptune?

Then, after discussion –which I imagine could get quite passionate— the teacher would say to his students, “OK. We’ve learned something. Now take that chart you’ve created and live it!

Fascinating, isn’t it? What the good teacher was doing was setting up a base for what is now called “behavioral modification.” It’s like determining how we want to look and going on a diet to get that way. --Many dimensions of behavior are open for modification, and most of us do modify behaviors in small ways every day: we avoid saying things (we express ourselves differently) in order not to hurt someone’s feelings; we are punctual because we know lateness upsets someone important to us; we choose a course of study in order eventually to be at our best although it will initially delay our progress for two years.

Where does behavioral modification start? We get the idea for behavioral modification from within, from introspection and understanding of issues that are not as rewarding for us in our life as they should be. We expect this of children daily: “How many times do I have to tell you that this is not the way to behave at the dinner table?”

We know that working late at the office every evening can threaten to destroy a marriage. –An introspective conversation about this, led by the sensitive counselor working to illuminate the behaviors and improve them, is going to delve into “why” and “how” this behavior could be serving an unspoken need, perhaps to avoid being at home, being with the household cares of the day, the spouse, the children.

What if you rearranged things at work to eliminate this horrendous schedule, say, two or three evenings a week? What would change?” –This is a very powerful question. [Please think it through: you are helping your client to see the improvement possible at home, in the marriage. In telling you what would change, your client is acknowledging the benefits.

Then: “Fine. Now what do you think is in the way of that happening?” --Another careful question. [Please see pages 75-98 in The Creative Astrologer.

Out of this careful, sensitive, confidential dialogue, much can be accomplished.

Another approach to a different problem could well be: “Perhaps there is a misconception here. Your upset with your spouse could be your upset with something else, and it’s just all too human and all too easy to dump all the anxiety very close to home! For example, all those problems with your father’s authority long ago for so many years still makes you rail when you experience authoritarian situations on the job now; you come home and assert yourself in your home, which really should be a neutral battlefield, don’t you think?” …Might your children be seeing you the way you saw your father?

These kinds of conversations lead quickly to resolve to change, very very often. The catalyst is the objective, neutral, insightful astrologer and the process of understanding brought out in dialogue.

>B>Rewards for behavioral modification. There’s no avoiding the Pavlovian truth that rewards reinforce behavior. [Please see the behaviorism discussions in Synthesis & Counseling in Astrology pages 351-356, 627-672.] Behavior that is rewarded sticks.

If someone performs on the job the way he or she is expected to, the reward will be recognition of some kind, from a raise to greater responsibility to special job benefits, etc. But behaviors in intimate surroundings do not fare well when there is an “I will reward you if you change this or that” attitude. It is residually adversarial.

The best reward mechanism for behavioral modification in social and intimate situations comes from within. I set up a reward structure in my own mind toward which I change, adapt, grow. When I succeed, I reward myself. –Other rewards from my environment follows naturally.

It is the rare person among us who can stop smoking just to please someone else. But if the smoker knows that his or her sexual performance and satisfaction will definitely improve if he or she stops smoking, the probability of success climbs very high very quickly! The reward is created from within, inspired by information and awareness; it is tied to self-esteem; it is visceral; neurophysical; it is essential. It works.

On a less dramatic level, the conversation can flow this way: “Please tell me, do you have your eye on a particular dress or bracelet … something beautiful .. that you would loveto have?” --It can be an out-of-sight expensive bottle of wine, just as well … something one wants and normally would not readily get.

“Yes, why do you ask? Yes, there’s this bracelet in the window of Shore’s jewelers; I pass it every day walking from the parking garage to my office building!” --“Yeah: there’s this bottle of Chateau Margaux 1962 … 1962, mind you … just sitting there in the store; they’ve got it behind lock and key!”

The point is, the desired object should be reasonably within reach, but quite special in actual attainment.

“Well, we’ve worked out how you’re going to make these changes in your behavior … because you really want to, now that you understand them thoroughly … and you know you will make it, a new way of behaving perhaps, say, in a month! Let’s set a date, and then promise yourself that you will get that bracelet for yourself when you know you’ve changed things. You will deserve it!”

The rewards can be set up on a different scale: “Every week, on Friday evening, when you haven’t said one critical thing all week long about your spouse or anything going on in your home … no profanity … no name-calling … no dumping etc., you will stop off and bring home some flowers and a special opera recording you know both of you will enjoy together.”

Behavioral modification is really changing a part of your horoscope, isn’t it! You are putting a particular planet where you would love to have it! Perhaps you are bringing Saturn’s wisdom in to curtail Mars impetuosity or Venus excess. Perhaps you are using Uranus to spark fresh interest in your friends. --Just thinking it through instructs your brain about the steps to take. Understanding is the grace that helps it happen. The reward confirms it.


Next Update: January 31, 2005


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