Recently while I sat in a waiting room I looked over at the small end table next to me. I glanced over these magazine covers looking for something to help pass the time. Instantly my eyes landed on a well known women’s magazine and almost as instantly I was pretty frustrated. Needless to say I did not pick up the magazine but was now lost in thought about the catchy headings splashed all over the cover. Some of these included “Your best self now,” 60 seconds to feeling happier.” I was so upset.
As a therapist I know that change is possible. I do however know that meaningful, lasting change does not happen in 60 seconds, or that you are somehow not the best version of yourself currently and need to make it all better, strive for more. I know that if I would have picked up the magazine and read the article I may have found them to be informative, helpful, and disclose that the suggestions they give may not be the “end all, be all” magic pill. At least that is what I hope I would have found. Don’t get me wrong, I think that there are small things each of us can do daily to make our days more positive, productive, and better for our health. The issue I have with this is that these kinds of messages of instant gratification and quick fixes have seemed to seep into our lives and we seek them out. If change doesn’t happen right away then “it doesn’t work.” I have heard this many times. Too many to count. The honest answer is sometimes it can happen quickly and with time, the changes become more strong and lasting. Other times, for whatever reason it does not happen as fast and the plan for change is aborted prematurely.
I know that when people come into therapy they are often feeling a lot of emotional pain and are seeking relief. However if we do not see something through and give it its due time, it is unlikely that there will be lasting change if any at all. Instead we throw our hands up and declare that therapy doesn’t work. It is my job to help motivate, challenge, and support people through changes. What I ask in return is that you know change may not happen overnight. In fact it is doubtful. More realistically we will have to work really hard at making change and making it last. We are here to help.