One of the biggest misconceptions about therapy that I hear the most often from new clients (or anyone outside of work who is embarking on a new recovery process) is they think that by just coming to therapy (or engaging in whatever modality they choose), they will change or things will change around them. Many new clients believe I have some sort of magic wand -- that by just coming to talk to me, their problems will be solved and their issues will be fixed. Now there definitely is something to be said for the power and healing that can come from venting to someone else who is listening attentively and emphatically. However, the clients who I have worked with who have experienced the most growth and lasting change, are those who took my suggestions and the tools taught to them and applied them outside of our therapy sessions.
Resistance to change is normal. We are set in our ways (I'll get to this in a later post) to a certain extent. I have discussed in previous posts that due to subconscious programming, our beliefs are developed before the age of 7 years and then reinforced over and over again throughout our lives. We thus become stuck in our beliefs and patterns. Therefore, it takes 40-90 days (research often shows - right dab smack in the middle - 66 days) to break an old habit and form a new one. And that is by consistently practicing that new behavior every single one of those days. Not just talking about it and then at the end of the 90 days - POOF! - you've changed!
I wish I did have a magic wand. I wish that just by you scheduling an appointment and coming in to talk about what is going on with you or what you would like to be different was enough. But, it's not. That's not how the human brain works. If you want change, you have to put in the work. And unfortunately, I often see people fall off because they are not willing to do the work necessary to bring about a change (whether emotionally, physically, spiritually, relationally or mentally). We resist change because it is unfamiliar. As much as we may want something to be different, we perceive it as scary. Stepping out of our comfort zones in and of itself is uncomfortable. But, that's the point.
Change is HARD. It's supposed to be. We may have low self-worth. Maybe we believe we don't deserve these new, better things. We have fear of leaving the comfort of our current situation. Our perception is our reality. But, if you want a new reality, you have to put in that work.
I have talked about this briefly in a previous post about coping with depression -- take some time to write out what you want this new version of yourself to look like. How do you act and react? What do you look like? How do you treat others? What are you doing? Get as specific as possible.
Then, write out affirmations that are in line with this ideal. For example, "I react calmly and kindly to all that I come into contact with." "I do not take what others do or say personally, and recognize that their reactions are a reflection of their own reality and experience." Practice these affirmations at the start of your day, every day. Then, take a few minutes to visualize yourself as this ideal. Throughout the day, pause when agitated or doubtful, and ask yourself "What would the new me do right now?" What would someone who is calm, confident, worthy, secure and happy do right now? Manifest your future self.
Resist blaming others and start holding yourself to new standards. Blame will only keep you chained and addicted to the emotions that are no longer serving you.
I have mentioned this before, as well: Set SMALL, ACHIEVABLE GOALS. You will not succeed if you give yourself a ridiculous and unrealistic goal to achieve by a seemingly short deadline. Also, make your goals specific, rather than broad. Give yourself something manageable and specific to work on. You will fail not because you are not good enough, but because again, that is how the human brain works. We revert back to old patterns simply because we have not practiced the new behavior long enough for it to become a new pattern.
Also, consider not taking the entire upcoming year head on, all at once. Try to just act better and differently one day at a time. Keep going each day. I promise, it will be more manageable.
In love and light, I wish you all a happy and healthy new year. Be gentle with yourselves.