The Power of Showing You Care
“Caring” is a powerful word. So simple. Yet simply trying to be more considerate of each other can make all the difference to a friend, a family, a life, a world. Showing that we care is so simple we often forget it, and treat those close to us in ways we would never dream of treating strangers.
The power of being nicer to others is something we all possess, all the time. When we use it, its power is felt by all of those around us — whether or not they acknowledge it at the time. Even when family members become angry at each other, IF they act as if they care about and do nice things for each other, most anger will dissipate. This has been demonstrated
many times. It really works. Here are several ideas about using the power of caring:
- Jot down a short list today of specific things your family members could do (examples inside) that would help you know they feel good about you. Really think about this awhile, and make an honest list. Encourage your family members to do the same. Then share, discuss and compile a family-size list.
- Avoid trying to deal with important, underlying conflicts (“issues”) during this “caring” experiment time. (Future publications will deal with conflict resolution and problem-solving — but try some of these ideas first.)
- Make a personal decision to be more considerate to your family members, whether or not they are nice in return. Be patient. The real secret is that when you change your behavior toward family members first, your feelings will change as you get nice things back, which will invariably happen — sooner or later.
- Practice “stepping outside of yourself” and looking back at your family situation and the part you play in it. What could you do today, perhaps right now, to be nicer to someone else?
How Powerful are Positive Interactions?
Positive interactions — statements or actions of praise, affection or caring — really do make a difference in people’s lives.
Messages from children to parents are often as important as those from parents to children, and young persons also have a responsibility to convey such messages.
Parental messages to children can determine how that young person views the world and responds to it.
One class study1 that illustrates this was done in 1968 in Ann Arbor, Michigan.
A team of graduate students under professional guidance compared the interactions of families of delinquents and of well-adjusted teens to determine the frequency and nature of positive and negative messages conveyed from the parents to the children.
The results were surprising. Both groups, they found by direct observation in the homes over extended periods of time, received approximately the same number of negative messages – criticisms or chastisements, scoldings.
But they found that the young people who were doing well received twice as many positive messages as the other group. The groups were matched according to income level, intelligence and other factors.
This study and others have led many counselors to advise families to sharply increase —and double or triple — the number of positive interactions, almost regardless of how many already occur within a family. For such messages to be effective, however, they need to be sincere. They can’t be phony or manipulative. But almost anyone can think of something that they do appreciate about someone else in the family (even when they’re angry).
Then it becomes simply a matter of expressing that appreciation, or of expressing it more often than usual.That expression will invariably trigger thoughts, about things the other person appreciates about you, and over a period of time the entire nature of family interactions will become more positive and rewarding for everyone concerned.
This power to change how families interact is very real and very deep — AND EVERYONE IN THE FAMILY HAS IT.
But it must be tried and used for it to work.
Reprinted with the permission of the Palo Alto Medical Foundation. 2008 Palo Alto Medical Foundation. All rights reserved.
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