One of the Solution Focused techniques we use during therapy is to ask clients what would be different if a miracle happened, and they woke up to find life was just a little bit better.
I’ve lost track of the number of times clients have said something like ‘My children would be better behaved around bedtime’.
Now, here’s the thing. No amount of therapy that you have is going to change someone else. That’s just the way it is. They are not in the therapy room, so there is no motivation for them to change.
So, I will respond to these replies with something along the lines of ‘Well, let’s imagine they are not going to change, but you are coping better with their behaviour. What’s different about that?’
Now, instead of the client linking their happiness to someone else needing to change, we help them take responsibility for how they respond to the other person’s actions.
And then, something magical starts to happen. You see, I lied when I said the other person won’t change.
Typically, what happens is that when the client remains calmer with the kids at bedtime, the youngsters don’t react. The situation is less likely to escalate and there’s a chance everyone gets to bed in a much better mood.
This is obviously over-simplified, but the point is, if you keep playing the same game with the people around you, you will always receive the same response. Nothing changes if nothing changes.
So, if you were coping better with your children, neighbour, partner, boss or parent, what would you notice that was different?
It’s worth thinking about.