Someone’s misbehaviour can actually alter our feelings about them Here is a short visualisation exercise and thought process to help you work things out … Picture this and see what your response is …
“Think of one of someone you know, and get a picture or a sense of him/her in your mind. Keep that picture constant, and freeze it. Look at it with the attitude of “He/she is demanding”. Be aware of your feeling towards your chosen person. Keep the same picture and, look at it with the attitude of “he/she is funny”. Be aware of your feelings – have they changed? Still keeping the same picture, look at it as if he/she is “naughty”. Be aware of your feelings towards your chosen person – have they changed? This time, look at the picture of your chosen person with the attitude of “this person is loveable”. How does this internal attitude change the way you feel about your chosen person?”…
The next part of the exercise is to work out your responses, with the aim of:
1) Highlighting the risks of using labels to describe the behaviour of people around us that we disapprove of, and 2) To establish the difference between using a label FOR the behaviour and a description OF the behaviour.
Ask yourself the following questions.
1. Did the label I asked you to use effect the way you felt about your chosen person?
2. What are the sorts of things that this person does that you label in those critical ways?
3. What are the possible risks of using labels? Can you think of any?
4. OK – so what do you think we could do instead?
SOME POINTS: –
- Often we were labelled and consequently we label people instead of their behaviour. It is useful to be clear that THE PERSON IS NOT THE SAME AS THE BEHAVIOUR.
That is, separate the DOER from the DEED.
- Labels are self fulfilling – both we and the other person may come to believe them and begin to behave in accordance with it. e.g. shy, bossy.
- There IS no such thing as MISBEHAVIOUR – only behaviour we don’t like, that we have labelled because it isn’t acceptable to us. People make the distinction between plants and weeds. In fact, weeds are just plants we have labelled negatively. “A weed is a plant that as yet we haven’t found a use for”.
BEHAVIOUR = WHAT SOMEONE IS DOING OR SAYING. Giving a description of what someone is doing or the way they are saying something is more useful than a label. E.g. “You’ve dropped crumbs in the living room and they’ve been trodden into the carpet.” rather than: “You have made a filthy mess in the living room.” E.g. “ I don’t like it when you shout at me and call me names.” rather than: “Don’t be so rude”’ A major reason why making this distinction is useful is that it provides information we can act on. For example: – A mother was upset because her 9 year old son had not fed the dog. Her comment to him was: “I think you are very inconsiderate towards your pet!” The boy was completely unaware of having forgotten to feed the dog and had no idea what she was talking about. Thus not only did he feel under attack from his mother, he also had no idea of what he had done wrong so no opportunity to put it right. A more useful message would have been to describe what she had noticed:- “You have not fed the dog this afternoon as you agreed to do !“ This would give the child a chance to take the initiative and go away and right his mistake. IT IS VERY LIKELY THAT SOME PEOPLE WILL FEEL GUILTY FEELINGS AT THIS STAGE. Often people do feel guilty – this needs to be acknowledged in yourself.
- We have done the best we knew how.
- We deserved and on the whole did not get what we needed as children, and later in the workplace.
- Sometimes the bad, uncomfortable feelings can be strong.
- Despite our experiences, CHANGE IS POSSIBLE. We can give people around us, grown-ups or our children what they and we deserve.
THIS IS SO IMPORTANT, I CANNOT EMPHASISE IT ENOUGH. Interesting isn’t it that Shakespeare mentions how our feelings regarding love can change. He says that whatever the loved person DOES should make no difference! …
“Let me not to the marriage of true minds admit impediments. Love is not love which alters when it alteration finds. or bends with the remover to remove. O, no! It is an ever fixed mark …”
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