How to Stop …….. or Not

Often we tell or would like to tell somebody to stop doing something.  "Stop complaining about your boss or your situation."  "Don’t look for the magic bullet to solve your problem."  On and on.  I am sure we all can think of lots of "don’t " or "stops."  The bad news is we cannot "stop" or "not do" anything. 

The simple explanation is that we can only do something, we cannot not do something.  Another more complex explanation is that our unconscious only thinks in images and there are no negative images.  The image of "stop complaining" is complaining.   

A great story about this idea is my problem with snoring.  I was driving my wife crazy with my snoring and I felt awful.  She would tell me to stop snoring and I was always confused because I did not realize I was snoring.  I was taking a course at the time where I learned about not being able to stop something and realized here was a great example.  Eventually I realized two things, it was not my problem but it was my wife’s problem.  Also that what she wanted me to do was "Sleep quietly."  So I gave her a suggestion that when I am snoring, to solve her problem she was to say to me "Jim, you’re snoring.  Sleep quietly." 

It was not an overnight success because I had develop quite a habit of snoring but with a determined effort on her part, I now rarely snore.  I am still amazed. 

One little detail that I did not mention.  Initially she just said "Jim, sleep quietly" but it did not work.  I did not know I was snoring so I did not know what to do.  When she added "you’re snoring", problem solve.

So when you want somebody to stop doing something, think of what you want them to do.  Make that suggestion.  Helping the person imagine what they wants is the first step. 

Of course the whole technique applies to me and you.  Instead of telling myself "Do not put the ball in the water" I tell myself "hit the ball way down the fairway."    

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