August 24, 2010

Not Ready Yet?

This thought just occurred to me as I processed many recent events. There are so many times in my nearly twenty year career in and around counseling that I have heard counselors, therapists, and educators say “I guess they aren’t ready yet” when a client fails to make a change. What change, you might ask? The change the aforementioned counsel decided the client needs to make, of course.

Do we really think a person doesn’t want to change when they say they do but fail to follow through as we prescribe? I do not believe that anymore. The reason for this epiphany is simply the road my own journey has taken. Twenty years ago I did not know, perhaps, could not know, what I do today. Does that mean I did not want to change? Not at all. I recall wanting to make changes as early at six years old (really, six).

Sometimes I was not ready to make the changes suggested. There are a multitude of reasons for not being ready to make certain changes. There are times that I honestly did not believe I had the ability to make the change. There are times I in all probability could have made the change but simply didn’t want to. Often there was still a payoff attached to the behavior that outweighed the consequence. Another possibility is that the change another thought I needed to make was attached to their own beliefs and not mine.

So, I write this as a word of encouragement to someone in a transition. Do what you can do and are willing to do and experience will assist with what remains. I also say this as a word of support to the helping professional who is frustrated because the changes aren’t coming as rapidly as you had hoped. They will. But they will be the changes the person wants to make and in the time they are ready to make them. Keep trudging. Keep offering the assistance, being the lighthouse. When someone hits the rocky shore because they did not do it as you would have had you been them…..don’t get discouraged. Failing to change and feeling pain is useful, too.

Feeling encouraged.

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