Can People Really Change?

intimate coupleI’ve been asked that question over and over and I have no doubt that much of the time, the answer is yes, why not? Watching my patients’ lives improve over time is what makes my work so rewarding.

Why is this on so many people’s minds? There are numerous reasons. For starters, the message from pharmaceutical and insurance companies is often that we’re hot wired a certain way. Psychological and emotional problems are really medical issues and only a pill will remove the symptoms. Sometimes medication is needed on a short or long term basis. Yet, I find that if they invest in themselves, the average person is able to effect substantial changes in how they think, feel and act and can resolve many issues that had been bothering them. If they seek the help of a professional in doing this, more power to them for being proactive when necessary.

Change is scary even when it’s for the better. If one is more afraid of making changes than they are of suffering their current situation, they’ll unconsciously sabotage their own attempts and then unconsciously rationalize that it can’t be done.

Further, when one is depressed or feels helpless or hopeless, it’s that much harder to see the light at the end of the tunnel. Thus, they can’t feel certain that anything can happen or that my help will be enough to get them through it. They may not even have a clear picture of what they’re looking for. So how can they make it happen? It then becomes my job to help them see what’s real and what’s imagined in their vision of life and how they’re going to go after what they want.

Some unconsciously believe that they don’t deserve to be happy so they get in their own way and then feel frustrated because on a conscious level, they really want to be happier and live more fulfilling lives.

Those are just a few examples of why people often question if one can change. I say yes, yet we must always remember that our expectations of ourselves, and others, must be realistic. Otherwise, we’re destined to be frustrated. Today, people seek quick solutions. Insurance companies want everyone cured in 10 sessions. Truth is, how long it takes depends on the problem(s), the person’s motivation and their ability to face things that may render them uncomfortable. It takes time to understand what’s happening and then additional work to do something about it.

Still, I’m not saying we can’t have wishes and goals. Nor am I saying we shouldn’t motivate ourselves by exploring all the possibilities however likely they may be. When we challenge ourselves, we often find we’re capable of more than we thought. Yet there’s a difference between raising the bar we strive to reach and striving for something truly unattainable. I can wish to be taller but it’s not going to happen.

The bottom line is, I believe the average person can change if they have the desire to do so and the motivation to make it happen. Everyone may not get everything they’re looking for but that’s life in general.

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