When ‘doing’ isn’t enough.

My major blog places emphasis on action – getting something done.

So here’s a bit of heresy against myself!

Doing is not always a respectable word in therapy as action does not always ‘bring home the bacon’.  Action can be be a substitute for ‘real’ change in some situations – a handy disguise. We can pretend to be changing.

Ever heard of the French expression: “plus ça change, plus c’est la même chose“.  Roughly: the more it changes, the more it’s the same thing.

One reason why safe experiments may not work is that our cunning minds find actions-of-convenience that are, in truth, sneaky avoidances. In my blog, I have included a useful experiment to reduce that possibility – using Socratic Questions. Did you know that the first therapists were the ancient Greeks (oh, and probably even sages from even more ancient civilisations).

So what did Socrates do that seemed to help others? He used Ironic Modesty: once he was challenged by a claim that “No one is wiser than you.” Socrates, himself, that is. In his response, after trying the disclaim the award, Socrates concluded his wisdom  was greater than many simply because he possessed an  awareness of his own ignorance.He possessed a Questioning Habit in his conversations with others. He was argumentative and cross-examined others to improve our self-knowledge. He was said to be Devoted to the Truth so much so that he died rather than give up his philosophy and his home. He was obliged to poison himself when a jury of his peers convicted him of being too clever by half! He believed in the power of reason and, after his conviction, he was said to have continued to argue about his fate after death.

He saw the sneakiness of his fellows and appeared to test himself to the death.

To become more aware of our own sneakiness requires us to pay attention to our thoughts, beliefs, values and attitudes. In these areas, the experiments you may have to do are thought-experiments. Albert Einstein was the celebrity developer of thought-experiments and you can find out more about them at:


To work on inoculating yourself, try saying ‘hello’ to your own sneakiness and just notice the ways in which you are sneaky. Notice all the benefits of sneakiness to you and consider whether sneaky may help you from time to time and, if so, how.

When you find a way in which sneaky is getting in the way of your preferred change, go back to the main blog and get to designing a safe experiment once more and let Socrates keep whispering in your ear.






One of the principles I have mentioned in the blog is that no ‘safe experiment’ will always work for everybody or even work always for some people. The most sensible things to expect is that all experiments can work for some people, some of the time.


Sometimes it helps to think about things and to be aware of our thoughts, as well.

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