BY: TRAY TANKERSLEY APC, NCC, THM
A few weeks ago I heard a memorable quote, part of a larger statement made by the leadership of Boeing, an American aerospace bellwether and the manufacturer of the 737 MAX plane. Responding to Congress’ damning investigation of a series of 737 MAX plane crashes, the leadership of the company stated:
Change is always hard and requires daily commitment, but we as a company are dedicated to doing the work...
I second that - change is hard and requires daily commitment. Those who seek therapy, whether they can articulate it or not, are seeking change. This sounds good, until the changes are articulated: I need a different spouse; I want my children to change their behaviors; I wish my manager would leave; can I get a new mom or dads. It’s human nature, isn’t it? We all want change. We just want someone else or something else (besides us) to change.
Our role will be to bring our best, most empathetic, patient, understanding self to help others make the necessary changes. Ok, hopefully you are chuckling with me.
We find as therapists that, at some level (usually on a “surface” cognitive level) clients believe that they have opportunity for growth and change. And, I find that clients believe that the other (fill in the blank) still possesses MOST of the responsibility for the problem and most of the needed change!
In the therapy room it sounds like this:
Client: “I know I don’t do everything perfect and I need to make some changes...”(long pause) “BUT YOU SHOULD SEE WHAT HE/SHE/THEY DO...”
Be that as it may, you do not have enough anger, manipulative skills, anxious activity or enough facts, logic, data and reason to make anyone else change.
The ONLY person you can change is yourself. The only responses you can change are yours. The only facial expressions, eyebrow raises, frowns you can change are your own. The only thoughts you can control are yours. The only emotions you can regulate belong to you. The only words you can command come out of your mouth.
Change is always hard...because it requires something from you. It’s always easier to require something of someone else.
But requiring change from someone else keeps you from the TREAT of change. It’s a treat to learn to respond differently. It’s a treat to grow as a person and learn the skill of grounding and emotionally regulating yourself without having to rely on someone else to do it for you. It’s a treat to find new words and new ways of expressing emotions and vulnerability.
The TRICK is embracing the well worn rule of life - you’re the only one you can change!
Legacy Strategy Blog
Legacy Strategy, Inc. is a private counseling practice in Kennesaw, Georgia.