I find myself having the same frustrating discussions at work day after day. One of the students I work with tends to get stuck at different points throughout the day. What this child will do is designate something as not fair and then proceed to try and engage in a discussion about this unfair situation… for a long, long time. The rational approach for me to handle this situation is to engage in a discussion, explaining the reasons behind the decision or the rule, i.e. “No peanuts at the peanut free table because it is unsafe for the children with allergies”, and be done with the discussion. The difficulty is that this student is not actually interested in reason or rational discussion. This kid wants what this kid wants and is willing to talk to you until your ears bleed to get it. The other day I tried a new approach and got surprising results.
Rather than trying to convince my student that I was right, I threw it in Reverse and started offering up loads of reasons in favor of this kid’s opinion. “You are so right! It is an outrage that other kids can sit at your desk when you are not there. It is your private space! They could touch your stuff and that would be a violation. I would feel like knocking somebody out too.” I piled it on real thick and encouraged him to do the same. We determined that the rule was stupid, grown ups do stupid things, kids do stupid things, people should just listen to and respect what this child decides to is right, and on and on. It was all very dramatic with throwing our arms around and bouncing our fists off of the desks. Laughter too, in the midst of these deep and overwhelming feelings, we had a few belly laughs too. Every time my student tried to redirect the conversation back into an argument by getting me to defend the rules- I kept it firmly in Reverse. I whole heartedly told this student to trust their feelings and not go along with anything other than what they felt was right and important. After about 5 minutes my student basically gave up on arguing with me, (most likely writing me off as some kind of nutball), and deciding it was way easier to just do the classwork than to expend any more energy on being right.
We are all like this student when we make broad proclamations about right and wrong or the way things are vs how they should be. We make these statements based upon our beliefs which are based on our own skewed interpretation of reality. I am trying this approach on myself now. When I start to get steamed up by a belief that something is unfair or wrong, I just throw it in Reverse and I immediately start to feel better. For example, “I never have time for myself” becomes, “I always have time for myself.” It feels unnatural at first, like I am trying to swallow a lie. I just continue to repeat it to myself, “I always have time for myself.” as I am faced with books I have been wanting to read, projects not yet begun or never completed, and piles of unfolded laundry. Magically my brain starts to find validation for my new thought. Suddenly I see possibilities where before there were none. Voila!
Our thoughts become our beliefs. Our beliefs become our reality. Our reality is expressed in our words. We don’t have to believe these words, these in Reverse statements for them to work. We just need to begin to say them and our mind will do the rest of the work for us.