radical, overall revision or limited to a specific area, but it should be a
clear change in behavior you are willing to try out.
Let's consider an illustration: Suppose you tend to be overly
aggressive with others, enjoying drawing them into arguments and
denouncing their views. Even if the other person has views similar to
yours, you tend to steer the conversation to a serious topic and end up
criticizing some person, group, or the way things are done. You are a
constant social critic; people may respect your mind but they are
uncomfortable with your negative views; you seldom have a light,
casual conversation. You can write yourself a new role, such as:
I am fun to be with. I seek contact with friends simply for
enjoyment. I have a joke for most people I meet. I ask about the
other person's personal life, his/her job, family, loved ones, special
interests, etc. but avoid politics and heavy topics. I'm a good
conversationalist but listen at least as much as I talk. I concentrate on
giving praise, empathy and encouragement.
There are all kinds of possible life-roles. A stingy person can play
the role of generous gift giver, a passive person can become assertive,
a very emotional person can become calm and quiet, a disorganized
person can become organized, a clingy person can become a self-
sufficient loner, and so on.
The fixed role may include some of the better traits you already
have but, most importantly, it should specify new behaviors that have
the potential of modifying your views and explanations. This isn't
intended to be a way of learning new skills. It is a way of changing
how you think about yourself and others.
STEP TWO: Live the prescribed life style for two weeks.
Don't try to be the kind of person described in the fixed role,
simply try to play the role for some time. Forewarn people in your life
that you are trying to change (otherwise, they may be certain you
have gone wacky).
If it is difficult to get into the new role, have a friend role-play (see
chapter 13) several situations with you before facing the real world.
Dr. Kelly encouraged his clients to think of their old personality as
being on vacation for two weeks, during which time they were to act
and feel like a different person.
Many people are skeptical that they can "play a role" for two
weeks. They can. Kelly felt that many people were so busy trying to be
themselves that they had no time to discover their real selves or to
develop a new self. Here is your chance. Keep a diary of your
experiences and insights.