More of the same thing is what I call a “wrong tool”. It means : INSIST. Sometimes it’s good. Sometimes it’s stupid. Push push and push in a dead end. Seems easy, but we all do the same mistake.
The pattern is simple :
You have a problem. You think you have the solution. You act. It fails. So you think you have to insist, push, go stronger, “more of the same thing”. you fail.
The problem is “you think into the box”, and you are SURE you have the solution, and that if you insist enough, you will get it. And it’s wrong!
It’s an old classic, told by Palo Alto therapy searchers and Paul Watzlawick. If you want to save your couple, if you want to help someone, if you want to flirt, if you want to talk to someone who doesn’t want to talk : STOP. The solution? It’s at the end of this article!
The book? Paul Watzlawick : Change. Principles of Problem Formation and Problem Resolution.
The author gives an example (which I translated rapidly) :
A teacher in a class has a single kid “with problems”. She asks to meet the parents and learns that he has huge issues, comes from a broken family and is very lonely all the time. So she tries her best to take care of him and give the boy much more interest; but the solution is worse : his notes crash, he is more alone. She insists and it goes into a dead end. The therapist says that “the more of the same thing” she does, the worse it’ll go (what she does isolates the boy from the other kids, for example). She’s asked to ignore him. Only to compliment him if the notes are good. And it worked!
If a wife asks her husband to talk more to her, spontaneously, about his days or thoughts, he will tell little things as an effort, but he will feel more and more closed, which will… make the wife to be more focused on him, waiting, and “more of the same thing”, arguing continuously about why he doesn’t talk to her enough, which will embarrass him more and more, etc.
Chögyam Trungpa, who was a Buddhist Meditation Master, says that if someone answer “No” when you want to talk with him, you just have to disappear. If you don’t, if you insist, you just transform yourself into a nagging (oh, a new word!) Demon. He’s so right!
Of course you know the story of the bunch of guys flirting everyday with the beautiful lady in a bar, with no success. Only one guy understands the problem (“More of the same thing”). He just sits in the bar, no interest, showing his back to her. And paying her the most neutral way every night. And guess what? He become the only one who gets her interest…
The tool is also a dial :
It’s hard to detect when you insist “more of the same thing” stupidly, because you are SURE you’re about to succeed. Don’t be a demon. And think out of the box. Buy the book, by the way, it’s very good.
Thanks for reading!