Who Has the Problem? Or, how to turn
a sweet soul into a shrew in just 90 days
By Harlan Jacobsen
How you turn your new wife or lover into a witch in 90 days:
Many people have to get a new wife or lover every 90 days because the
old one goes sour on them. They just can't understand it. They must have
been nice until you got married or whatever but then they became witchier
and witchier until you were right back where you were with the last one.
So you decide that the opposite sex is just no good, that sooner or later
the real witch in them comes out.
What really happens is that you make a witch out of them by what you are
doing and you will do it to the next one too. You blame them, but it is
you that has the problem. Women do the same kind of thing to men and get
the very behavior they don't want, always blaming their partner.
So let's look at what is happening. You probably remember Pavlov and his
dog experiments where he rang the bell every time the dog was fed. The
dog became "conditioned" (a learning method) to salivate just
by the ringing of a bell. In other words, that action on the dog's part
became automatic when he heard the bell. The response you are getting
from your new mate or lover is going to become a "conditioned"
What you are doing is behavior modification by rewarding what you do not
want. Namely, nagging, whining, complaining and general witchiness. When
they are sweet and nice you do not reward them with your undivided attention,
touch, compliments and affection. You withhold those things until they
have to whine and nag and complain before you give them the reward that
they so badly need, be it attention, affection, sharing or whatever. So
you are, in effect, rewarding the behavior you don't want and punishing
the behavior you do want by withholding "strokes." The result;
in 90 days you have changed them completely.
They are no longer the sweet, gently understanding person you once knew.
Thanks to you. So if your close relationships are turning sour on you,
stop looking for new ones and look at what you are doing to them. Think
back and see if you were not responsible for the last one going sour.
The same works with children, particularly for children of divorce. They
are often missing the attention that used to be filled by the absent parent.
In some of your children, most of the source of attention "strokes"
may have come from the missing parent. Children absolutely have to have
strokes to survive, so they will do anything to get them. A negative stroke
is not as good as a positive stroke, but it is far better than no strokes
at all. If you don't make up for the missing parent's positive strokes
the child will try weird or undesirable behavior. If they get attention
and strokes for that kind of behavior, soon you will have conditioned
them to bad behavior because that is what they have to do, they have decided
unconsciously, to get the missing strokes. When they are being good and
doing nice things, the custodial parent gives them no attention. But when
they are bad, the same parent decides to give them a lot of attention.
To be sure the child knows he is doing something bad. When they are being
good, the parent concludes, they know they are being good, so I don't
need to give them attention. The result is a kid who is conditioned to
give you the exact behavior for you don't want.
So the next time your partner or your child goes into the kind of behavior
you don't want, look and see if you aren't the one that conditioned them
to that kind of behavior in the first place.
You will have to recondition them for at least 90 days, using the exact
opposite system you have been using. Normally, you will go right back
to what you were doing before. When your child makes their bed for the
first time, don't punish this desired behavior by criticizing: "That's
no good, you have lumps all over here, and you didn't do the ends right
Instead of rewarding the behavior you want, you are punishing it. If you
want your lover to give you a big hug, and when you finally get a little
hug, and you say, "You call that a hug?", you've got it wrong
When you get even just a part of the desired behavior, reward it, don't
punish it. Next time it may be even better and your reward even more positive.
If you want to make corrections in the methods your lover is using, or
the way Junior is making his bed, use the Zinger Sandwich: two positive
zingers, one correction zinger, and two more positive zingers about what
was done right.
By making a conscious effort, you probably won't have too much trouble
changing your method to one of positive attention to good behavior, but
if you have a negative personality, you are probably going to have a lot
of trouble not rewarding bad behavior. People who dwell on the negative
are usually not even aware of it, and consider themselves positive instead.
Another way you get undesired results is by changing your partner's self?image.
If you keep telling your child that he or she is defective, then that
child eventually begins to see himself in that way, and lives down to
that self?image. Conversely, when you tell your child he is good and that
you are proud of him, then that child will possess a good self?image and
try to live up to it.
Similarly, if you bring up your lover's faults over and over again, soon
they will have a poor self?image when they are with you, and will never
improve toward you. If your lover needs some "correction", remember
to use a "Zinger Sandwich", layer any correction between strokes,
and you will leave them with a positive feeling about both you and themselves.
This is just one more step we think you need to take in handling your
world. You have bean hassling the world to shape up, when it is most likely
you that has the problem, and needs to change. When you have changed and
can take a sour personality and turn it sweet in 90 days, then you know
you've got it together in this regard. You have become a positive personality
who rewards positive behavior in others.
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