Are you sure you want to change?
Sometimes, clients come into therapy certain that they want to change something about themselves. They may want to improve their mood, reduce anxiety, or perhaps change a behaviour like the way they eat, or the way they use alcohol or drugs.
The funny thing is, although they want to make this change they don't seem to be able to. They may have spent years trying, just to find each time they move forwards they seem to find themselves back where they started again quite quickly.
When you find yourself unable to change behaviours, you need to look more deeply at what is going on. It is likely that the undesirable behaviour is, beyond your awareness, meeting some kind of unconscious need. This means that each time you try to change it, your system pushes back, keeping it in place, to make sure that need is met.
Uncovering the drivers beyond your awareness and resolving them, either by personal growth that alleviates the need, or by finding a different way of meeting them which fits with your goals and values, is the way out of this dilemma.
Therapy is a place where you can safely explore what is happening for you and find ways forwards. In the meantime, you may want to ask yourself these questions:
If I got this (this = the change you want) what would I gain?
If I got this, what would I lose?
If I didn't get this, what would I gain?
If I didn't get this, what would I lose?
In answering these questions I invite you to dig beyond the obvious and challenge yourself to own the faint whispers and unattractive truths that might pop into your awareness. You may not like what you realise, but in acknowledging it you can set yourself on a path of growth to move forwards.
You might also ask yourself what you have now that you want to keep and take with you as you grow. Sometimes we resist change because we fear the unknown, being clear about what will not change can help to make it less daunting and more doable.
To help you in your explorations, you may want to reach out to a therapist you feel you can trust.
About the author
Fe Robinson is a psychotherapist and clinical supervisor working in Durham on Mondays, Tuesdays, Wednesdays and Fridays. Her mission is to help clients thrive, whatever their life circumstances. Fe is UKCP accredited and BACP registered and offers psychotherapy, EMDR therapy, couples counselling and clinical supervision.
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