COUPLE PARITY SERIES
Gerald Smith, Ed.D.* Licensed Psychologist
Some Suggestions for a Complicated Journey
The word NEED is often useful to gain insight into yourself. Let’s say
you want to become less prone to placating in your relationship with
a loved one. Ask yourself:
“Why did I have a NEED to placate just then?
Your answer might be:
“I want to avoid conflict. I’ll do almost
anything to avoid it”, or you might have
another, less obvious, insight.
Therefore, when you take time to reflect, use the NEED QUESTION.
Often It might get you under the surface, and be useful in Suggestion
By way of the NEED QUESTION you might gain insight, but seldom is
insight alone powerful enough to make a major change in yourself.
If insight were enough we psychologists would all have text book
lives, and we don’t ! We should have insight to spare, but if it remains
only insight, it does not pass the “SO WHAT” test.
For a personal example, I have an abundance of
insight into why I’m over weight, but I’m still
somewhat over weight !
What do you have to gain by making the change you have in mind?
You must have some potent reasons for giving the change real
traction. Write down your reasons, and try to exhaust that list. Change
is complicated, so carefully make your case for what you’ve set out
Now, as deeply as you can, figure out what inside you gets in the way
of making the change you seek. Probably it will be useful to write this
down as well. This can be difficult to do, but it is worth the effort.
Don’t try to disown, for example, your placating ways. Undoubtedly
they have served some good purposes. It is not kind to yourself or
psychologically sound to try to “amputate” a bit of yourself. Keep all
of your ways and do the following:
Add on another way of relating that will serve you
better, than placating. But again, keep the placating.
Why can’t you have another option in addition to placating? YOU CAN.
Figure out that option, and get used to using it. If it serves you well
enough, you won’t be doing placating as often.
Changing yourself is like whittling on a stick to fit it into a hole. It is a
process of thoughtful trial and error, with many attempts before it fits.
Seldom is a major change in behavior done in one effort. Research
shows successful change is the outcome of efforts tried over and
Therefore, be patient with yourself, and give yourself time, and
expect numerous false starts. Each false start is a not failure. It is
built into the process of changing yourself. It took you a long time
to maybe overuse placating. Give yourself time to make the U Turn.
Use your imagination to pick out a MONITOR to keep you on track.
When I decided to get myself in charge of time rather than having
time in charge of me, I was setting out on a major endeavor. I put a
red mark on the face of my wrist watch to remind myself each time I
looked at my watch. The red mark on my watch became a “friend”,
and helped make the new approach to time one of my habits.
Tell a close friend what you have set out to do. Even better, make
change into a joint venture if the friend also has a change in the
works. Give yourself a date not too far off to “report in” with each
other on how you are doing. Doing this will help keep your plan in
motion. In that meeting with your friend, have some fun too.
Manicuring, or processing, one’s psyche can become wearisome.
Give yourself room to be amused with what the two of you have set
out to do. Some fun will add fuel to getting the change done.
“I send you the best of wishes in your efforts to change.
Succeeding will enhance your self esteem.”
*Gerald Smith, Ed.D.
Licensed Psychologist (Psy 4634)
327 N. San Mateo Dr. #8
San Mateo, CA 94401
650 347 8882 / DrGSmithCx@earthlink.net