Andrea Verier, M.A., M.S.

Licensed Mental Health Counselor

WHAT IS THE ‘CARROT ANALOGY’?

Have you ever noticed how common it is for people to want to change other people? While meeting with clients, I often hear someone ask, “why can’t so and so (fill in the blank) just act the way I want him to?”, or “I just don’t understand why she doesn’t want to get help!”

The speaker is often someone who has braved the therapy office door, planning to get help and make changes. Still, the compulsive illusion that tells us we actually can change others prevails.

At this point, especially when this persistent belief interferes with personal change and the action steps therein, I turn to the “Reasonable Quotes”:

Reasonable is accurately assessing someone and expecting them to be who they are.

Unreasonable is accurately assessing someone and expecting them to be someone else.

Crazy is accurately assessing someone, and waiting to be who you really are until they become who you want them to be!

When all else fails and I hear someone seriously implying the third, beyond unreasonable point of view, I resort to the ‘Carrot Analogy’ as follows:

“Listen”, I might say, “This person you want to change is an onion. You want him/her to be a carrot. Onions are always peeling and making a mess, and they smell, and make you cry. Carrots are sweet and colorful and crunchy. You can’t , no matter how hard you try, keep looking at that onion and wishing it would turn into a carrot and really expect that to happen!”

At this point, a burst of laughter occurs. Despite the lingering anger, confusion, disappointment or frustration that preceded this hilarious image (especially the part where they try to morph the onion person into a carrot person), the sincere devotion to change someone else evaporates.

What a relief we both feel as we begin working on the change awaiting the actual person who walked through my door!

Andrea