This is the third bog in a series ” How Therapy Helps”
Why do so many of us hold back from making changes in ourselves that we supposedly want? Usually it is fear, and that fear can be strong enough to keep us from even setting the “desired” change as a goal. Can’t progress in therapy if we are afraid to make our goal a reality, right?
Why does this happen? Let’s take some examples to make this understandable: Perhaps you grew up in a family were your intrinsic worth wasn’t reinforced enough, and you become an overachiever to prove you are worth something. Yet, working so many hours is wearing you out, and your present family, your spouse and kids, complain that you are always at work and don’t have time for them. You’d like to not feel pressured to work so much, and you agree to go to therapy so that you can change this and spend more time with the people you love. So – what’s to be nervous about here?
This person might very well hold back while questioning themselves in this way: Who will think highly of me if I don’t keep earning those raises, awards, etc. I don’t know if I can feel good about myself if I don’t keep over-achieving; I’ve kept that old feeling of being wrong and bad at bay by being a super-achiever. Won’t other people see me differently too? Why would they respect me anymore?
It’s hard to believe that therapy will change the way you see yourself, and that then you will no longer assume that others will look down at you if they are not looking up. It seems like a terrible risk.
Or take the woman who is so giving of herself to people around her. She’s the one who decided to take care of her siblings so her mother could rest and her mother praised her for it. Now it seems that everyone says good things about her for being so giving. Her children think she is a great Mom, her husband is always appreciating what she does, her neighbors think the world of her. How do you give that up, especially when that is who you see yourself to be? Of course there is this problem of feeling used, of never having time for yourself, and not even knowing what is important or pleasing to yourself. The kids are soon off to college and then what will you do with your time then? Volunteer? What about pursuing something that will be truly fulfilling? But maybe that is being selfish, and who would say good things about you then? Besides, you have no idea what you would like to pursue….what if there isn’t anything? Very scary prospects, yes?
It is true that therapy takes courage – a different kind of courage Therapy takes courage to look within ourselves, face our inner dragons, and let ourselves change. The good news is that change comes slowly enough for you to control yourself. A competent therapist would never expect you to behave differently in the world until you are fully ready to do so. It is the therapist’s job to help you track down the blocks to moving forward, and show you how to move through them and get on with becoming the person you truly are.