Sometimes my job is to help people hit the Wall of Futility with both more expediency and compassion than they would on their own.
Hitting the Wall of Futility (an expression I first read in an amazing book called “Parenting Without Power Struggles“) is a part of the full grief process. It is essentially that place where we realize that we can do no more, we cannot control the outcome, and whether we accept it or not, the Wall remains.
What I have realized in my work as a therapist and coach is that I can often see impending Walls in my clients’ lives MUCH sooner than they can, or are willing to.
Examples of Walls are things like having a loved one who is an addict or personality disordered, being in a relationship where one person clearly has no interest in growth, or even the fantasy of having an entirely different psychological makeup (the “someday when I’m perfect” story).
And because denial is such a preferred coping mechanism, many people end up driving straight into that Wall, both in epically slow motion and with their foot pressing that gas pedal straight into the ground. They refuse to see it until it’s through their windshield and pressing into their nose and forehead.
When I can foresee a Wall, or there already IS one from something that happened in the past, but that they still have not accepted, I start bringing it to my client’s attention. Kindly, gently, at first. More bluntly as we get nearer (and as I can tell their psyche is more ready for it).
I just think this is a kindness–to help ease people out of their denial before they have FULL impact onto that Wall. Because hitting Inevitability with all one’s might packs a huge wallop. I’d rather cushion the blow with love, and help my client receive their own grief and anger and pain with love.