I am petrified of blood tests. You just say those two horrific words and I feel sick instantly. Ew, ew, ew, no thank you. With this kind of thinking, it is one hundred percent certain I will NOT change my behaviour and go and get one. Not going to happen. But what happens when I have to go and get one? I’m not going to all of a sudden find it an easy thing to do, and having those negative thoughts about it just makes getting one even harder. So, before I can change my behaviour, I first must change my thinking.
Blood tests are helpful. Blood tests are necessary. These are the type of thoughts I can use to replace the old ones. Only then might I change my behaviour and agree in actually getting one.
Do you see where I am going with this?
Before we change our actions, or try to get others to, it’s not going to be easy or helpful if we don’t become aware of our thinking first. And why would it? If I think dogs are dirty and scary (which I most definitely do not, but let’s go with it for the sake of the explanation), then I’m not likely to go and get one or play with one. So encouraging me to start to play with a dog is going to be like talking to a brick wall. Your best bet is to start to change my thinking about dogs first, by giving me some helpful thoughts to replace the negative ones. Like dogs are amazing, they give you unconditional love, they’re great listeners, they don’t talk back and playing with their velvet ears is like therapy.
I read about this phenomenon in The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People by Stephen R. Covey, and since then, I am noticing it everywhere. I find it fantastic when explaining behaviour and using it as a tool to redirect or change it.
Ever tried to convince someone to do something for you? Or try to change someone’s actions in some way? I have, and on a regular basis. I don’t think I would be a good teacher if I hadn’t. Challenging people is what I do. I push people out of their comfort zones to learn and grow for the better. But focusing on their behaviour is useless. I first have to understand their way of thinking and become aware of their unhelpful thoughts, to then be able to replace them with better ones.
A student is certainly not going to do any work that they see is not interesting or has no purpose. Or a student who thinks it’s ok to hit someone else isn’t going to stop until they’re opinions about it change. An apology from a student? Forget it. Unless they see the reasons behind it first. What I’m trying to say is, to be influential in encouraging others to change their behaviour, or when we want to change our own, the first step is to listen, and observe the thinking taking place.
Listening with the intent to understand is how we become influential in changing other people’s, and our own behaviour. Because after all, all any of us want is to be seen and heard.
Hopefully now after reading this you have some ideas on how to go about broadening other peoples perspectives by becoming aware of their way of thinking, before diving head first into focusing on their behaviour.
Also, I hope that you have a new skill in your tool box to pull out when you would like to change your own behaviour about something, ie. terrifying, but necessary blood tests. Ever wanted to do more exercise? Change the way you think about it, then you will see changes in your actions. Want to become more social? Listening to anxious thoughts won’t magically turn you into a social butterfly, but being aware of your thoughts so you can replace them will!
What is something you can change your thinking about, for the better?
What unhelpful thoughts do you sometimes have about doing something you don’t like, but know you need to do? Homework? Cooking dinner?