The peculiar vanity of man, who wants to believe and who wants other people to believe that he is seeking after truth, when in fact it is love that he is asking this world to give him. - Albert Camus
Satir's Principle of Addition says that people change behavior by adding new behaviors, rather than getting rid of old ones. The reinforced behaviors are done more often, leaving less and less time for behaviors not reinforced.
Your challenge is to practice giving affirmations for behaviors you wish to increase. This can be in the form of an e-mail note, a card, a phone call, a brief office visit, a comment in the corridor. It must be done, however, directly to the person, not through some third party.
Each and every day, give one affirmation to one person.
1. This forced me to pay attention to what people were doing.
2. This was really hard! Something deep inside me got caught in my throat when I started to form an affirmation of someone. It's a good thing I had a support group to help me figure out where that came from. I'm still not very good at it, but I can get the words out.
3. I thought I was already doing this, so it would be a really easy assignment. It turned out that nobody recognized when I was giving an affirmation, because I always cut the corners off it by some little joke, or discount.
4. I'm pretty good at this, in person, so I decided to start sending little cards to people who had done something that helped one of my change projects. Boy, was I surprised at how delighted they were! Something about a card made them really sit up and take notice; maybe it showed that I was thinking of them when they weren't present, and I took that little extra time to do this in a way that wasn't the easiest (e-mail). Maybe that made it seem extra important.
5. I made a list of people I ought to affirm, and made five copies, one for each day. I would check each one off the day's list so I would have a measure of how well I was doing. My goal was to be able to do everybody in one day by the end of the week. There were 14 people on the list, and my scores for the five days were 4, 7, 6, 11, 14. I was very proud of myself, and on Saturday I showed the list to my Will (my husband) and explained the assignment. He read over the list and told me I had forgotten someone. I was devastated: What good was a perfect score if it wasn't the whole list? But I couldn't for the life of me figure out who was left off. On Sunday, in church, I was still thinking about it and not really listening to the sermon. Will leaned over and whispered in my ear: "You." At our church, some of us stay after the service for a discussion of the sermon. God must have been watching over me when He sent the sermon that day because the subject was "Love thy neighbor as thyself." I understood that if I didn't love myself very much, loving my neighbor as myself didn't mean very much. I'd say I had a religious experience because of this exercise.
These challenges are adapted from my ebook, Becoming a Change Artist, which can be obtained from most of the popular ebook vendors. See my website <http://www.geraldmweinberg.com> for links to all of my books at the major vendors.
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