I’ll let you in on a little secret.
After one day of eating healthy, I have this very strongly held belief that I will step on the scale the next morning, and be 10 pounds lighter. Obviously this is completely irrational, and not surprisingly has never happened, but there is a part of me that is disappointed every time. There is a part of me that wants to just give up in that moment.
The truth is that any time I attempt a change in my life I want to put very little effort in, and see HUGE results, but that’s not the way the world works.
I see this in my therapy practice a lot. A couple will come in who has been having significant issues in their marriage for years. They are on the verge of divorce, and giving counseling a try as a last ditch effort to save their marriage.** Inevitably after about 2 sessions, they are disappointed that things are dramatically different. They want to lose 10 years of dysfunction in 2 weeks on a dysfunction “diet.” It’s not going to happen.
Someone wants to parent their kids more effectively and comes in for help. We go through really practical things they can start doing to change the behavior they are seeing at home. The next week they come back and declare that it didn’t work, so we need to figure someone else out.
We live in a society that gives us instant results at the tip of our fingers. Don’t know the answer to something? Google it on your phone! Don’t want to cook dinner? Order a pizza! Want to read the newest book that just came out? Buy with one-click for your kindle! You don’t even have to get off the couch! Now I do all of these things, and am thankful for the ability to look up the answers to things without driving to the library to find an encyclopedia, but this has also shifted our expectations to immediate gratification in all areas of our lives.
We want instant change, and that is not going to happen, so we give up before the real change has a chance to even get going!
Real change is slow. Really slow. But slow change is the most authentic, and likely to stick. That means that slow change is good!!
Let me repeat that: SLOW CHANGE IS GOOD!
In fact when I’m working with clients, slow change is my goal. I am extremely suspicious of fast change, because all too often fast change is formed out of shear will power. Using will power to change greatly increases your likelihood of falling back into old patterns, because will power fails. It is designed to help with short term temptations, but long term change. So I encourage slow change. Not only does that reset my clients’ expectations to a more realistic standard, but it greatly reduces the chance that they will give up when they don’t see realistic results.
So what changes are you trying to make in your life? Are you expecting change to quickly, and sabotaging yourself in the process?
**As a therapist I see couples enter therapy at all different points in their marital journey, and let me tell you this: DO NOT WAIT UNTIL YOU ARE ON THE VERGE OF DIVORCE TO GET COUNSELING. I have so many clients come to counseling that have already chosen divorce in their hearts. There have been so many years of hurts, anger, pain, and emotional distance building up that by the time they walk in my office they hate each other. That gives me almost nothing to work with! I can tell who those clients are within 20 minutes of them walking into my office, and it makes me sad. They have very little chance of making it. Sometimes they surprise me, and we all enter the trenches together and come out on the other side healed. But that is by far the exception. There are other couples that realize that they are not communicating well, not connecting well, or reeling from something like an affair, but who are “early” in the process of those pains. I can also tell who those clients are very quickly, because I can see that they still genuinely love each other. They are just stuck. Those clients are a delight to work with, because they are both still “all in.” When both people are still “all in” we can work through almost anything! So if you are struggling in your marriage, please don’t wait to long. Counseling can be expensive, but divorce is much more expensive – both financially, emotionally, and spiritually.