A client of mine recently sent me the following message:
“It was good talking to you today! I don’t know how long I have been seeing you, but each time I would leave therapy, I knew the issues I had to work on and what tools I could employ to handle them. You always provided me with tools to handle “my stuff.” Well, this past month I have applied all the tools you have taught me to handle the stress in my life! It felt great as it all came together. I realized I am a lot stronger than I thought I could be. Therapy is a process, and just like life, therapy has peaks and valleys. Life is about how you handle those peaks and valleys. I feel very positive knowing I have dealt with problems on my own and have taken the time to learn and grow from them. When I was in the middle of a high-stress time, I didn’t realize I could actually use the strategies you taught me. This last time, it came naturally, and it wasn’t forced. I learned it is okay to not be perfect and to ask for help! Thank you for everything you have taught me over the years. I am a better person in many ways because of you. I am very lucky to have such a wonderful husband, and I learned to create my own support system so I can enjoy that relationship. Hugs!”
I had to remind myself to pause and take a breath, then allow myself to enjoy receiving praise. This was a very special message. Most couples come to me saying they want tools to communicate better. And I do my best to give them that. Once we have discussed their options and opened up the lines of communication, the work has to come from them. So, they go home and before they can get to do the work something happens. Fear gets in the way, and nothing changes. The tools just sit in the toolbox.
Why Do We Resist Change?
Exploring resistance to creating a new behavior is one of the most productive areas of therapeutic work. Human nature is complicated. We naturally resist change. Behavior is not easily changed without true desire. We become comfortable with the reality we create. Creating a new reality is challenging and makes us feel vulnerable. It is easier to keep the status quo, even if it brings unhappiness and discomfort to our lives. If your family life was full of conflict or chaos, you might have learned how to tolerate misery. We find it easier to live the life we have become accustomed to rather than change.
Here are three things I believe could cause resistance.
- Believing you just don’t need to do anything
- Believing it can wait
- Not making time for it or setting it as a priority
I suppose we just don’t think we need to change. And yet we are aware there are obstacles in our lives that are keeping good energy from flowing.
You might feel you can wait and see what happens. But this will only allow the problem to grow or become more complex. The behavior you have used in the past may have even contributed to the source of your unhappiness. “Wait and see” usually means “wait and grow even more confused and resistant.”
Maybe you believe you just can’t find the time to do it. We all know our time on this Earth is finite and sometimes we pretend we will never run out of time, but we will, and that moment can never be predicted. Do we avoid change because we are afraid of the outcome, afraid of getting what we say we want?
Perhaps your stuck in a belief system that fears change and believes that if your partner really loved you, they would have more patience and understand that you may be stuck. Sometimes an attempt to find support is actually another form of procrastination or resistance, allowing us to feel productive without actually doing anything. Whatever the reason, change cannot occur without action.
My client gave me such a gift when she let me know she had realized that therapy had given her the tools she needed. But the real gift was when she realized that she had put them into practice and to her surprise—they actually worked. I feel so grateful to have this reinforced.
Remember, you don’t have to change everything in your life in order to receive the blessing of an improvement. Sometimes just making a small change can create a waterfall of positive outcomes. Allowing this unknown experience in may help you realize how powerful you are in relation to others. Don’t wait for the perfect moment, there isn’t one. Take action, communicate and watch your relationship improve. Trust that your desire to change will allow things to begin manifesting the way you have visualized them. Your happier life and relationship are in your power to change.