If you’re in counseling or thinking about starting counseling, you probably want to change something in your life. Some changes are straightforward, like the new software program you have to use at work, and some changes get hung up in our psychology. We can tell the changes that get hung up because we get distracted when we try to implement them or the change doesn’t last very long. “Getting more exercise” fits in this category for a lot of people. When we try to “just do it” or reward ourselves in order to change we often end up feeling frustrated, discouraged and judged by ourselves and others. If change were a matter of just making a decision and acting, we’d all be happy and wealthy, right?
What if satisfying, long-lasting change wasn’t about imposing some new idea about how we “should be” but was about being more of who we actually are? This approach to change asks that we become more fully invested in where we are now rather than focusing forward into the future. When we are present in this moment the next step (change) arises naturally from the spaciousness of our acceptance. Just like a journey; we don’t start a journey at the end, we have to be at the beginning first and proceed step by step. If the beginning is done well, the whole trip will be more satisfying.
Allowing natural change by nurturing spaciousness means accepting ourselves as we are now and lightly holding the change we’d like to make. A tree doesn’t grow (change) with a goal in mind, “My goal is to be 100 feet tall!” It just grows (changes) from one moment to the next as tall as its biology and environment will allow. Of course people aren’t trees but maybe, rather than trying to force some idea we have about where we should be, we can practice allowing what’s next to show itself and go from there.
For more on this you can check out:
The Paradoxical Theory of Change, Arnold Beisser, M.D.