When I was working at the WSIB and hating my job, I kept telling my friend Drew that “I didn’t want to work here.” He sagely told me that it is better to run towards something than to run away from something. His logic was that if I didn’t pick something better that I wanted to move towards, I could probably end up with something just as bad or worse.
We often know what we don’t want and focus on that instead of focusing on what we want. This idea came back to me when reading a blog post by Susan Garret, who trains dogs. She said that dogs don’t understand the word “don’t”.
So, if you want to modify your dog’s behaviour, you need to tell them what you want them to do. Saying “Don’t jump on the couch” might just encourage them to jump on the couch. You must encourage the behaviour you want instead of the behaviour you don’t want.
Supposedly our unconscious doesn’t understand the word “don’t” either. So when we tell it that we don’t want something, it might give us more of what we don’t want.
The challenge is that it is often easier to identify what we want by saying what we don’t want. I don’t want to be overweight. I don’t want to sleep in. I don’t want to go out with people that are mean to me.
You have to take it to the next step and verbalize what you don’t want as something you do want. So, if you don’t want a partner who is selfish, you need to change it to “I want a partner who is caring and kind.” I don’t want to eat junk food becomes I want to eat healthy food. And so on.
It’s easier to do than to not do.
© 2019 Peter Gruner