Bert’s therapy: Stuck

I’m stuck.

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How so?

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I don’t like myself.  I really want to change.

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therapist 2

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But as hard as I try, I can’t seem to.

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Change yourself?

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Right.  Any advice on that?

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Yes.  But you won’t like it.

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How do you know?

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Nobody likes it.  Nobody listens.

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Why not?

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It’s counterintuitive.  Contradicts what they want to believe. 

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Well, I’m desperate.   Try me.

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If you insist.

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Bert 8

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The way to change yourself is:

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Bert 9

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Stop trying.

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Stop trying what?

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Stop trying to change.  That’s how you change.

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You’re confusing me.

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It’s called the Paradoxical Theory of Change.  “The more you try to change yourself,” it says, “the more stuck you become.”

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Bert 12

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“But the moment you accept yourself as you are, change happens by itself.”

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That makes no sense.

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Didn’t you just say that pushing yourself to change has gotten you nowhere?  

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Yeah.

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There’s a reason for that. 

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bert

Force yourself to change, and another part of you rises up in resistance.  An internal war starts.  Neither part wins.  You end up still stuck, just more tired.

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That does sound familiar.

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On the other hand, accepting yourself frees up all sorts of energy.  You feel stronger. Braver.  Hopeful.  Creative.  Growth follows.

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That makes sense, I guess.

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therapist

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But I like believing in will power.

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therapist.

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I like thinking I can chart my own course.

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therapist

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That I’m the master of my fate.

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therapist

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That I’m the captain of my…

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See? Nobody listens.

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………………. * * *

 
Dear reader,

I need a hand here. 

This guy’s an okay therapist, I guess.  But as you can tell, sometimes we just doesn’t get each other. 

Maybe feedback from you would help. 

What’s your view of personal change? 

Do you believe in  willpower, or self-acceptance?

Or, put another way:  Below are two poems and two poets.  Which view appeals to you more?

Thanks,

~ Bert

PS: If you ever need help with your therapist, let me know.  

   

211111111111111 * * *

Invictus

Out of the night that covers me,
Black as the Pit from pole to pole,
I thank whatever gods may be
For my unconquerable soul.

In the fell clutch of circumstance
I have not winced nor cried aloud.
Under the bludgeonings of chance
My head is bloody, but unbowed.

Beyond this place of wrath and tears
Looms but the Horror of the shade,
And yet the menace of the years
Finds, and shall find, me unafraid.

It matters not how strait the gate,
How charged with punishments the scroll.
I am the master of my fate:
I am the captain of my soul.

 ~ William Ernest Henley 

 

 

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When the tides of life turn against you

And the current upsets your boat

Don’t waste those tears on what might have been

Just lie on your back and float.

 
~ Ed Norton 
 
 
 

 

 

 


6 responses to “Bert’s therapy: Stuck

  • Mike

    I’m with Bert, I still cling to the idea that there is stuff I can do (therapy, journalling, etc) by which I can improve myself.

  • jpbauer

    Hello Steve
    Another great post.
    Personally, I hold the view that self acceptance and will power are not totaaly or completely mutually exclusive. I believe self acceptance is one of the main qualities a person must internally possess to be truly at peace with themselves and the external world in which they find themselves. Will power on the other hand, is a quality which like self acceptance is inwardly possessed, however will power is, generally speaking, a quality which can be measured only on the basis of a person’s outwardly success and accomplishments. We often say a person has a strong will power if that person spends considerable time and energy practicing a sport or activity, so much so that they win competitive events in their field of endeavors. Without the will power to practice, the person would likely never have acquired the skills and conditioning to compete at such high levels.
    It is acknowledged that a person may use and turn their will power inwardly in such a way that acts or causes the person to unconsciously negate one’s self acceptance thereby resulting in the paradox syndrome you quoted in your post. It can be a fine line indeed between a healthy will power and one that can impede self acceptance.

  • PCG

    Although I agree there are things we can and need to do to better ourselves, I’d go with the latter. Too often we try to control the people (and things) around us, but like with the tide, you can’t control them. You only have control over what you choose to do.

  • jpbauer

    The more often I read the post, the more clearer the role of self acceptance becomes. I Am struggling with the the question whether will power plays a pivotal role in self acceptance or not. Maybe it is my own definition of will power that is making it difficult for me to see the forest for the trees?

  • Clare Flourish

    For me, self-acceptance has come after a great deal of self-examination. If I accept my anger, it is a great deal easier to deal with it. Having accepted my anger yesterday :) !! I feel a great rush of it.

  • Bryan

    Oh man, amen to this post! Here’s my problem. I’ve known for a while (intellectually, at least–the emotional part is a whole ‘nother story) that control gets me nowhere. I know I need release and acceptance of myself. I want that SO bad that I come up with things that I label as release and acceptance that are actually born out of my desire to control. I can’t escape myself. The problem is that letting go really means letting go, completely. There is no way to control the process of letting go and acceptance (because they are the opposite of control), so release and acceptance scare the hell out of me, just like everything else I can’t control. Guess that’s why I love control so much. Well, tiime to go eat ice cream and watch a movie!

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