It’s an illusion to think that I can change the people around me and get them be just as I want them to be. But, what I can do is change my thoughts and thinking, and create a way of being that may create a different outcome.

There are many sayings that reflect this way of thinking:

“You can lead a horse to water, but you can’t make it drink”  or

“You can’t make someone change, they have to want to change”

But how do I change my thinking – and what do I change it to? Of course, only you can answer the second part of that question. But I may be able to help with some thoughts on the “how” part of the question.

You might be thinking at this point that thinking itself just “is” and that you have no control over it. And to some extent you’d be right. But what you can control is how you “relate” to your thinking, and how you act as a result of your thinking.

Our brains are working away all day long – generating 1000’s of thoughts, many more than we can reflect on in any depth. As a result we develop automatic patterns of thinking – short cuts in our thinking that make the daily pattern of living easier. Mostly this works just fine – it would be tedious if we had to think through the steps of how to make coffee, or drive a car. Automatic thinking is a wonderful thing – until it doesn’t serve you in a particular situation.

Let’s say that I want to get clients to buy more products from me. Maybe I automatically think that they will try to take advantage of me and that I need to make sure that I don’t let that happen. I might believe that clients don’t know what they need and that they should listen to my superior knowledge. I know that these examples are comical, but the point is that what I believe and think about myself and the world will influence what I do, and ultimately the outcome I receive.

In this sales example I can’t change the way that the client thinks. But if I open up the space to reflect on what is happening I might see that my thinking is unhelpful. Not every client is wanting to take advantage of me – and to think that way will make me defensive. Also, many clients do know what they’re after and probably understand the products as well as I do. How do I come across when I’m trying to prove myself all the time?

These thinking patterns are pretty common – maybe you can think of your own examples. But in this example I can choose to find new ways of thinking about the situation and find new perspectives and understandings of how to relate to the thoughts and beliefs that I have. If I change my perception then maybe the people around me don’t need to change.

If I change my perception then maybe the people around me don’t need to change

These types of changes are being made by people every day. But sometimes they don’t come easily and it takes the support of a coach or counsellor to see what’s really going on. It’s difficult sometimes to see the patterns until someone helps to point them out.

I’ve seen the power of this type of reflection in my life – maybe you have too.