Many years ago, as Jim Fay and Foster W. Cline, M.D were promoting the book, “Discipline with Love and Logic,” I was desperate to get control of my inner-city classroom of third graders. Jim Fay told me something like this: “Do not praise these students, instead, say something like I noticed that you were …” for example, let’s say that Johnny loaned Jane a pencil, I might say, “I noticed that you were kind to Jane and that you let her borrow your eraser.”
I never really understood this concept until a few hours ago while I was reading a book by Augusten Burroughs. From his book, “This Is How: Proven Aid in Overcoming Shyness, Molestation, Fatness, Spinsterhood, Grief, Disease, Lushery, Decrepitude & More. For Young and Old Alike,” in the chapters “How to Feel Like Shit,” and “How to ride an Elevator,” he points out that our society has an unspoken zero tolerance for negativity. While reading this book, I realized that if a person’s core belief, that is to say, the part of them that is “who I know myself to be”–has a powerful knowingness that “I am really a piece of shit,” then no amount of praising, nor pointing out positive attributes, nor using positive affirmations will make a difference. I think that Jim Fay was saying that by having his or her positive attributes and ways of beings acknowledged, the student can begin to acquire personal experiences which create a positive self-worth or self-esteem. The student him/herself begins to create a belief system that they do, indeed, have value.
Recently, while working with clients, I have recognized the same unconscious mechanism operating with all people in different areas or arenas of their lives. These are the blind spots-the areas where they do not know that they don’t know. When I heard someone say, “That is your point of view. That is just you being right that you are wrong,” I began to understand what Jim Fay was talking about. If, at your core, you have an unconscious point of view or belief system that defines who you are, then you have to first uncover it, and then work to take new actions that will cause you to see yourself, as well as, cause others to see you as your new created way of being. This is Transformation!