In a frame hanging on the wall in my office are some words that seem to really help my clients.
The words are ‘Behaviour affects Experiences and Experiences affect Behaviour’.
What exactly does that mean?
Well, what I find with clients, and even within my life, is that the often very small changes and choices we make in different circumstances (where possible), make a big difference in our lives.
For example, let’s say that you went out to a restaurant, ordered your meal and the waiter brings you something other than what you ordered.
You have a choice about how you respond (your behaviour).
You could lose your temper, raise your voice, call the waiter and the other staff incompetent and completely ruin your evening (and probably the evening of the other people in the restaurant).
Or, when the incorrect meal is placed in front of you, you could initiate your ‘Adult’ mode (a term in this case borrowed from Transactional Analysis).
The adult would take all things into account when deciding how to respond.
For example, is the waiter new to the job? Has he simply made a mistake and brought the wrong meal to the wrong table? Or did I maybe poorly communicate exactly what I wanted?
A calm, pleasant but still firm response is most likely the most productive way forward here.
The waiter understands you are disappointed and goes about trying to make things right for you.
The second part of the strategy/concept is that ‘Experiences affect Behaviour’.
So, in other words, what has been reinforced to you through your behaviour in the past (your experiences)?
Maybe you saw your mother or father act aggressively with a waiter when you were a child and this led to the waiter in that situation fixing the issue with the meal.
What has been reinforced to you is that to get what you want you must be rude or aggressive. But, bring this strategy out on a first date and you might not make a great impression!
There is a lot in this world that you can’t control, that is a fact. One thing you can change, in most cases, is how you act, or how you react, to different things.
That is where you get your power.
Words are one thing, deeds are quite another. – Ivan Bunin
So, change your behaviour (something we try to do in Counselling) and you will find your experiences (your life) will change with it.