You CAN change others, but only if you change yourself first…
I often hear people say, “You can’t change others, but you can change yourself”, but I don’t think that’s true. Technically you can’t change others, however, once you change yourself (your thoughts and behaviours) the other person has to change in response. It’s an automatic process which occurs in the subconscious.
If you’re struggling with a relationship whether it’s a work colleague or manager, partner, family member or friend, this exercise will help.
Read the instructions at least least once. When you’re familiar with the steps, try it with your eyes closed. If you’re not comfortable with that, open is fine:
- Have a picture in your mind of the person you want to feel differently about.
- Make that picture clear and bright and colourful, feel the feelings that you associate with them and hear clearly how they sound. Some people actually have a video of the person they dislike that they run repeatedly, or will often say that they can see that person walking towards them, and it brings up strong emotions. If that’s the case with you and then run that video.
- While you visualise that picture/video, change something about the person; give them Mickey Mouse ears, Ronald McDonald hair, add some sort of ‘appendage’, modify the sound and tone of their voice and add some funny music (circus music works well for this and changing their voice to Donald Duck’s can help too!).
- If you’re running a video, have that person sit on a clown’s tricycle as they come towards you or have them walk differently (remember Monty Python’s ‘Ministry of Silly Walks’?). Change something about them that makes you smile or laugh when you think about it – anything that makes you see them differently in a non-threatening way works well
- Keep that picture in your mind for a few seconds and make it bigger, brighter, and more colourful. Make the sounds louder and feel how that person now makes you feel as you see them in your mind’s eye in their ‘altered’ state.
If you see a video, run it a few times from beginning to end until it’s very easy to picture clearly and you can return to it instantly.
See what you’d see, feel what you’d feel and hear what you’d hear if it were real. Amplify all aspects as much as possible, as if it were real.
Keep practising, seeing that new picture or video as often as possible over the next 24 hours. The more you run/see it, the more you will notice that you that you feel quite differently when you think about the person than you did when you started.
When you change your thoughts, it automatically affects your behaviour. As a result, the other person has to act differently towards you. They may not be able to consciously pinpoint exactly what the change is (as that tends to go on in the subconscious), but they will, without exception, react differently, often without realising why.
In summary, the old adage, ‘You can’t change others but you can change yourself’ isn’t strictly true. I prefer, ‘You CAN change others but only if you change yourself first’.