In this edition I’m going to outlay one of the metaphors that explain the process of making life long changes. It is based on many, many, stories of people growing through adversity and discovering a greater sense of strength, identify, and wisdom*. It isn’t the only story of recovery, but it resonates with many people. Let’s begin:
You might think that beginning is where you are at now. It isn’t. Your story began a long time ago. It began in the “normal world”. That is, the time before you faced the challenges you are struggling with. You might even have trouble remembering what that was like, but at the time things seemed great – as if you didn’t have a care in the world.
Then something went wrong. It may have been something that you or another person did or didn’t do. Or perhaps you noticed that you were feeling more anxious, sad, or angry but couldn’t pinpoint the cause. Being a reasonable and sensible person, you tried to fix it. Maybe that worked for a little while, maybe it didn’t. But soon you came to realise that when you try to make changes in your life it brings up strong emotions. Sometimes we are overwhelmed with the intensity of these emotions and slump into apathy and depression. It’s easy when this happens to give up and feel that nothing can change. Overtime this might have become the new “normal”.
If you are reading this, you are likely feeling ready to give things another go but would like a little help. This stage is about finding your mentor, usually a psychologist. It is important that you pick someone that you feel comfortable with, and whom you trust. Someone who will stick with you throughout the ups and downs on your journey. If you have had your trust broken in the past, it may take a few sessions before you are ready to make that decision. As you cross this threshold, the real journey begins.
As you engage in therapy, you will likely start to feel better. For some people, this is enough for them and they leave therapy with what they need to face the challenges that bother them the most. They usually do quite well. Others decide to continue their journey, and this is where the longer lasting, and more profound changes start to occur.
We all have opposing drives within us that move us both towards change, and towards stability. Your therapist will help you to ‘dance’ with these forces and collect resources and motivation for change. You will start to find that do have the strength to make a difference in your life and connect with people who support your change. It is from this position of safety that you will be able to make deep, pervasive, and lifelong changes. Choosing to hold onto parts of yourself that you love, and letting go of the defences, insecurities, and self-condemnation that you no longer need.
There will, of course, be roadblocks and setbacks along the way. These may be self-doubts, discouragement from others, falling into old habits, or difficulty connecting emotionally. These are to be expected, honoured and worked through. Your mentor will guide you through this process.
Coming towards the end of your therapeutic journey you may find that your view of yourself, other people, and the future have changed. For some people this can be like being given a chance to start a new life. Keeping the things that you value but doing things differently this time around.
This journey may not have chosen this journey but through adversity we grow in strength, identity, and wisdom. You may find that you now approach challenges with a sense of excitement, rather than terror. Feeling complete, rather than empty. It is from here that you able to choose a journey of your own design, moving towards what you want in your life, rather than running from your past. Crafting your own unique future.
Give Darius a call now to book an appointment or learn more about what may be the most suitable treatment for you. Most importantly of all, enjoy your journey.
*See Campbell, Joseph. 2008. The Hero With A Thousand Faces. Novato, CA: New World Library.