You’ve heard the expression, “dance like no one’s watching”, right? Of course you have. Everyone has. And that is a very useful and healthy way to deal with some areas of your life, primarily involving self-care and things you enjoy. So yes, dance like no one’s watching. Sing like no one’s listening. Cook like nobody’s eating but you.
BUT…when it comes to dealing with other people, this is much less effective and is often problematic. When we interact with others in a way that is all about us and not about them at all, it tends to not go well. The receiver is often hurt, frustrated, and made to feel less than and unworthy.
Think about when you are mad at your kid (if you have one) and he/she is not behaving in a way that you want. So you lash out, maybe in a way that is over the top and not really appropriate given the circumstances and/or infraction. Now, there are lots and lots of reasons why we as adults do not react appropriately – stress, fatigue, worry, poor coping strategies ourselves, etc.
But now imagine that same interaction, where you are maybe a little bit over the top and imagine that a DCYF worker is standing in the corner of the room listening. Would you be ok with how you are treating your child? Would the worker?
Now imagine a fight that you had with your partner, where maybe he/she did or said something that was a bit not nice and it totally set you off for whatever reason. And so now you are maybe talking with a snotty or even aggressive tone of voice. You are speaking in a way that is not out of love and kindness but out of anger and frustration. Sounds totally typical, right? We all have “those days”, right?
Now imagine this same fight with your partner only instead of being weeks/months/years into the relationship, you are only DAYS into it. And you are still in the process of trying to win him/her over. Would you speak in the same way? Would you words carry the same venom? My guess is absolutely not, at least not if you’re trying to woo someone (and maybe get lucky?)
So NOW imagine if you started treating everyone in your life like someone IS watching, like you are trying to WOO someone, like your whole entire goal for speaking to that person is to win them over. And imagine if the people you interact with treat you the same way? Woah….our lives and relationships would look vastly different, vastly better.
This suggestion does NOT mean that you should tolerate mean or bad behavior. Nope, not at all. If your kid, partner, friend, boss, etc. is being mean and disrespectful, there are appropriate and constructive ways to manage it.
But being loud and mean is not it. Does it work when someone does it to you? Do you feel better about yourself and start to consider alternative methods of communication because you got yelled at?
Likely not. You likely feel bad. You likely feel worthless. You likely feel like you’ve failed. And this simply reinforces the negative core beliefs you have, which is the opposite of helpful.
So just for one day, I challenge you to try to win people over. I challenge to you imagine that someone IS watching you. I challenge you to remain positive. And then I challenge you to take a hard look at the outcome of this behavior change.
It would not surprise me to find out that the results surprise you.