Making changes as an adult typically take longer than we would like.
Clients of mine can grow frustrated after eight to ten sessions. They see me for two months and expect to have changed a behavior that has served them and hurt them for decades. They become are irritated with me. They think my interventions are not enough. Or, they get irritated with themselves. They give up, frustrated with the belief that they’ll “never get it“.
Adults have high expectations of themselves and each other
Many of our expectations surround learning, growth and change. These expectations get in the way of reality. We concoct stories in our head about change – how long we believe it should take, what we think it should cost. These expectations we come by honestly. Schools teach us that if you don’t ‘get it’ by a certain time, you’re behind or broken. These timelines are artificial and frequently don’t help much.
Imagine we were discussing the learning of a newborn
Newborn babies are garbage when it comes to holding their heads up. They suck at using a toilette. Feeding themselves? That’s a total mess. They, like clients trying to make a change, are learning survival skills. They are learning something totally new. And the adults have patience for them.
When it comes to new behaviors, you’re more like a toddler than a master. When you become aware of a less helpful way of being in the world, you’re likely going to be shitty at changing. Every now and then you’ll have a victory. Every now and then you’ll do things differently. These new behaviors are exceptions, not the norm. You’ll likely screw up and go back to the old way again.
Accepting reality vs being surprised
When you working to change your life, you’ll revert to shitty old behaviors more often than not. These ‘creative adaptations’ that have served you for decades will likely reappear time and time again. If you’re surprised by this fact, the first thing you’ll have to do is get beyond the surprise, shock, shame and host of other feelings before having an opportunity to learn and move on.So, remember, when you were a child you were terrible at wiping your ass, how should this new skill be any different?