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Researching a new book on brief therapy I have been struck once again by how much work has been done on understanding what helps people with change in their lives. The information is out there, but for the most part we ignore it.

Instead of looking at what works – what has helped someone change or adapt to change in the past, for example – we all too often tend to do more of the same. Repeating our failed attempts simply reinforces our sense of powerlessness in relation to the problem. This is doubly damaging when our job is to help others change and our strategies involve setting them up for failure.

However well we know them, it is useful to revisit the simple rules:

  • Find out what works and do more of it.
  • If it’s not working do something different.
 

Latest from the blog

I’m Wrong About Most Things, At Some Point

We shroud ourselves in beliefs that help us feel secure. One of these is that things tomorrow will be the same as they were yesterday. But the idea that things don’t change is a delusion, that is all.

Nothing wrong with that, but it is best to recognise it, and to keep an open mind about what will happen next. The greater our need to keep things the way they are, the greater the risk of disappointment and even neurosis.

Trying to control the uncontrollable is unpleasant for us, and those around us.

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Selective Optimism for Pessimists

There are advantages to optimism that are worth considering, but some people are put off because they don’t want to be disloyal to negativity.

Optimism and pessimism are generally seen as opposites, but that doesn’t mean they are mutually exclusive; learning optimism does not mean abandoning negativity. If that is what turns you on, stick with it.

If you tend towards a pessimistic outlook, how about learning selective optimism? That way you can get the benefits and still be true to your negativity.

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