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So, I can change people by believing in them, right?
We-ell, yes and no.
This is one of life’s most misunderstood behaviours. There’s one view which says ‘people don’t change’, and there’s another view that says anyone can change, at any moment. So how do we sort out all these conflicting views?
The way it works is that you change yourself, whenever you’re ready, and then all the people swirling around you have an opportunity to roll with that change, or hate on it. It’s kind of like improv.
In improv, the rule is "yes-and" (and not "no-but"), you affirm and add to whatever the other person is offering. So if we take two people building an improv sketch about meeting at a bus stop, it might look something like this:
SCENE: BUS STOP
John: "I’m a famous rockstar."
Sue: "Yes and your fans are mainly angry white videogamers!"
John: "Yes and thats why my new single is called 0wned Ragequit n00b."
Sue: "Yes and it is big in Japan as well."
This is co-creation and change-over-time. The story progresses well and all the actors playing their roles feel fantastic and validated with each contribution they make.
If it was not using "yes-and" it’d be more like this:
John: "I’m a famous rockstar."
Sue: "No you’re not!"
The story is awkward and halting, and actor John does not feel very good about contributing.
Developing relationships is the same thing. One person is declaring who they are and what’s important to them, and their partner or friends or family can embrace this and encourage it with a "yes-and" attitude, or they can sulk, pout, drift, and resist it.
Personally, I have made "yes-and"a habit in every inch of conversation and expression.
I adore creativity and I’m like to see deep value in anything that anyone’s offering. I’ve been with ‘assholes’, ‘leeches’, ‘theives’, and more, and I’ve been able to encourage them all with not a hint of judgment. (I’m not special or anything, I had years when I was young where I was an ultra-elitist, cynical judge-er of all.)
The beautiful part of transforming destructive relationships is that it requires the open-hearted, conscious, co-operation from everyone involved. As we saw above, if either person John or person Sue starts saying "no-but" instead of "yes-and" the whole thing crashes, and the other person will go find something (or someone) else to do.
SCENE: Italian Restuarant
John: "I now only hang-around confident decision-makers and people who feel success-focused who match me in value and pace."
Sue: "Nope, you’re with me, and I`m not much of a decision-maker, and my success-focus is not-even-close-to-your-scale, neither is my pace."
John: "Uh… I guess, so…so, uh yes and I believe you can change right now, in this moment, join me."
Sue: "No way, nuh-uh."
John: "… uh… k…."
Here’s on more:
SCENE: House Party
John: "Alright, it’s time for me to focus on X, and I can only be around people who HELP with X in key ways."
Sue: "Doubtful. I know you, you stick around for anything."
John: "Yes I used to, and now I’m leaving. It’s just for a short time, until you can truly help with what I’m doing, or until I’m done X."
Sue: "No, I don’t like this."
John: "Uh, well… yes, and I can see you don’t like it and I want to help."
Sue: "Hmph. Well? Then? So? Help!"
John: "Uh…yes, and… uh…."
In the above examples we can see that person Sue is basically un-co-operative, and not applying "yes-and" in the face of person John’s improvised changes. No matter how generous and "yes-and" focused person John is, it is not enough to carry the relationship.
So your relationships are improv, moment-to-moment, and if you’re involved with someone who just doesn’t get it, it’s time to go, or you’ll stick around in a very awkward, very horrible, relationship, hoping they’ll change.
Declare your change, create the new you, whatever it is, and then the ball’s in the other person’s court.
They have a chance to show off their imagination, co-operation, and love, or they have a chance to close-up, yell out a "no-but" and show you where they are at.
Do everyone a favour, if they can’t improv with you, move on very, very quickly. You can explain why, or you can not, but do not get dragged through some awkward, halting relationship.
Yes, I know, you want everyone to rise up with you. I’ve been there. You’re a rising star artist, you’re blasting off, and you want any cars and planes in your life to come with you into the atmosphere
"The real is on the rise,
F-ck them other guys,
I even gave ‘em a chance to decide —
Now it’s something they know
They know, they know, they know" – Drake
Express yourself. Give people a chance to decide. Hit the ball over the net, put it in their court. If things go smoothly, when you put your foot down and call them on their relationship-crushing "no-buts", they’ll smart up and show you the best improv in the world. Sometimes though they’ll need to go off and lick their wounds, study some improv classes, and come back to you in a few years.
It’s not up to you alone. Keep your fingers crossed
If you enjoyed this article, you can show your appreciation by sharing some friends stories or questions in the comments section below!
*The improv metaphor in this post was inspired by the fun and proud of it Lauren Stein of Laurentina’s Improv Club.
Note: This is Part 5 in a series on Consciously Choosing Relationships. Check out the rest below:
1. Rocketships Or Cars? – The Art Of Friends
2. The Status Quo – Friends By Default
3. Use Your Power – Choosing Your Friends.
4. How To Lift Off, It’s Not That Scary
5. Transforming Destructive Relationships – You`re readng it.
6. Start And End With Win-Win