Book Review: Don’t Think About Purple Elephants…

2 minutes

It’s interesting to note how our human brain is designed.  How it’s designed to let our minds work is truly unimaginable.

We have conversations every day. Whether talking to elderly, to our family or friends or to even toddlers. Each one of us speak in a way that suites our moods. Don’t we?

But we are unaware of how our moods can impact  the behavior of our children. So how we express certain basic things to our children is the result of how they react or behave to us. Does it ring a bell?

“Don’t!” is the word we use almost every hour in what we speak in our day-to-day living. It’s a negative word which implies “Stop!”. It’s important to know where we must use it though.

Eric Fleming has written a wonderful book called ‘Don’t Think About Purple Elephants’ which is based on a simple but important psychological law that impacts everyday communication, i.e flipping your thinking. 

People sometimes wonder if words we use can affect imagery. Well it does! The book highlights how negative words such as “Don’t” can impact on the behaviors of not only children but any individual too.

Common examples of negative vs positive imagery portrayed:

  • “Don’t put your sock on the table!” – Negative image 

                                                                             Instead

  • “Can you please keep your sock on the ground dear and not on the table? You don’t want a smelly table do you?” – Positive Image.

                                                                                  Or 

  • “Don’t think you can come late at night. You better be home by 9 p.m. for dinner”. –Negative image 

                                                                              Instead

  • “Can you please make sure you come littler earlier before the dinner time? I would really like to spend more time with you”. – Positive Image.

So what happens here? Your child or the person you are implying a message to, will most likely do what is asked if said in a more polite way, not allowing a negative tone or image irritate them, which might trigger them to react in the opposite way.

This book is a must for anyone to keep at home. You can just correct yourself at times and just communicate in the right way, having less misunderstandings or negative behaviors occurring to your everyday life. Communication is one of the most important ingredients that greatly helps all types of relationships bond better.  

Niki Rajan

Mental Health Counsellor, Certified Counsellor from the Australian Institute of Professional Counsellors, MSc Psychotherapy & Counselling.