Feeling Great! Newsletter

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What Evidence Are You Collecting?

One of the great challenges of bringing new life into a stagnant situation is that you're already collecting evidence of your inability to make a change. Isn't it strange that the mind works in this way? We do this with ourselves, as well as with our loved ones.

Once a mind is made up we only seem to be able to collect evidence that backs up its conclusion. I no longer see children in my therapy practice, but for a long time I did. I would always begin my intake session with the child and finish with the parents. 

Let me share a very common occurrence with you. In my intake sessions I would spend the first 20 minutes with the child, let's call him Jimmy. At the end of that time I would swap Jimmy out and bring back his parents. I would begin with the parents by saying what a wonderful child Jimmy was. I would then go on to share specific insights and observations I had made during the interview which reflected what a cool kiddo Jimmy was.

It wasn't uncommon for a parent to say, "I don't know what planet that kid was from who you just saw, but that isn't our kid. Our kid is a little devil." The mother would then go about convincing me about her opinion of her son. Very frequently she and/or the father would have a briefing, in the form of a manila envelop which would contain all the evidence to the contrary of what I had just witnessed. There would be notes from teachers, grade cards, notarized statements (wink) from home quarrels and the like.

For the parents it must have been like taking their car in for major work and being told there was nothing wrong with it. Ever happen to you?

In order to create change in our lives we have to be willing to 'see' more possibilities. Many parents would become angry with me over kids like Jimmy, as though I didn't understand that Jimmy was a challenging kid. Of course I knew Jimmy could be challenging. I had worked with lots of challenging kids. My challenge to a parent however would be come back a week later having "caught" Jimmy doing at least three things right between sessions.

Even that would be quite challenging, because of the "BUT" word. For instance a parent might say, "Jimmy did ask permission to leave the dinner table, but he stayed in the bathroom for 20 minutes fooling around..." Many of us have heard the old adage that the word "but" erases anything that came before it. So, I would have to stop the parent just as soon as the compliment would come out of their mouth.

So, when it comes to personal transformation, family transformation or the transformation of relationships -- how willing are you to see new possibilities?

We can begin with simple sleuthing such as,

  1. Tell me three times when you were acting on an important value in the last week.

  2. Teach me about 3 ways your spouse loved you last week

  3. Catch your daughter doing 3 things right and LET HER KNOW ABOUT IT!

Congratulations! You're on your way to creating new possibilities in your life.

Dave Turo-Shields (email)
Veteran Psychotherapist, Trainer & Life Coach

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  ~ Anonymous


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