In the olden days of not too long ago and further back into the last 100 years, the idea of having a relationship with a therapist or analyst was based only on "problems" one was experiencing. And usually only if these problems were causing significant suffering in the subjective experience of that someone. Slowly the word has been getting out that problems or symptoms were not required to contract with a therapist of one sort or another to find an effective consultant for the purpose of getting more out of life.
We all have problems, usually we solve these through any number of creative activities: ignore them, blame them on some one else, get married, have a baby, have a temper tantrum, pray, eat, love (hmmm, that one sounds familiar), shop, get divorced, feel angry all the time, getting high or intoxicated (there are so many different ways to do this: work, sleep, experiences of anxiety or depression, drinking some wine, beer, or liquor, use some illicit drugs, have lots of sex, jump around in relationships, gamble, become a fundamentalist by joining a cult, political party, church or any group who offers "the truth". ). Some times these strategies work, although many times they do not.
How many of us yearn for more in our life? Not just the desire to get rid of, or solve a problem, but a deep desire to create a future you WANT to be part of? And, well, perhaps, a little happiness, satisfaction, and fun right about now?
That is the essence of Change Work: Creating the life of your dreams (as opposed to a future based on your fears and past history) with a deep appreciation that while there are obstacles to overcome in the process of creating this compelling future there is great joy, spiritual connections and companionship on the journey.
A worldly maxim from various traditions goes something like this: the changes you want OUT THERE begin INSIDE with you. Hey, inside is where you have the most leverage! You ever tried to get somebody else to change so you can feel better? Real difficult proposition. Not that this stops many of us. Sometimes we try all our lives to change others or our environment so we can feel better. Don't get me wrong. We are in this life with others, they can help. We want to learn how to do this effectively also. I do sleep better at night when the lights are off, so making changes in the environment can also make a difference. The idea here is the appreciation that working with my reactions and responses will make a huge difference in my experience in relationships that are a problem for. This internal focus and then taking helpful actions, creates a feeling of empowerment: I CAN feel differently. I CAN affect my world. When my focus is outside of myself as a primary strategy for feeling better, I lose this leverage and those empowering experiences. So, expecting someone else to change so you can feel better pretty much puts how you are feeling in their hands. That my friend is a recipe for experiencing helplessness and then anger.
A second idea about creating health outcomes for yourself is to use language in your favor: state the outcome you want directly. Do this by saying what you WANT, rather than saying what you DON'T WANT. For example, I want more friends, instead of I don't want to be lonely anymore. I want more patience with others, rather than, I don't want to get angry so much with others. I want to run 3 miles a day and eat well, rather than I don't want to smoke and eat potato chips all day.
When we state a desire or outcome in its positive form, our mind will begin to create those changes. And that is good to know. Yes, it is also true when you state an outcome in its symptomatic form like, I don't want to be anxious anymore!, guess what you get? Right, more anxiety. Give your mind the goal, not the anti goal. Say what you want to experience.
Along this same line, another cool thing about the human nervous system is: Any particular change we are seeking doesn't require our conscious mind's attention all the time to make it happen . . . we are meant to work correctly. So much of our human make up helps us create the life of our dreams, especially when we know when and how to get out of our way forward.
These are two important ideas when doing your personal Change Work. It is an exciting pathway as we move from the morass of our problems toward the life we want on the deepest level. So, contracting for support and help form a professional in this area is one of the reasons you may discover the importance of an effective therapist, counselor, or coach. They can help you in creating the life, not of your fears or past history but rather the life of your dreams.
Check back. I'll be writing some more on these subjects. Please do share your thoughts.