“Wow, I feel great right now. I’m so glad to not be suffering like that. But I’m really scared this feeling will go away.”
Do you ever feel like my client did here? Feeling grateful for experiencing relief from mental suffering, but also worrying that the relief is temporary?
Of course we want our good changes to be permanent, but they seem to act more like a solar-powered fountain on a cloudy day — inconsistent spurts and starts.
When the positive results don’t seem to last, you can start thinking, “what’s the point of all this hard work?!”
We tend to think of change as a destination.
As in “once I arrive here at my goal, I’ll be happy and done.” But it doesn’t really work like that, for a few reasons.
One reason is that your brain is a discounting mechanism. In other words, it quickly stops noticing things that are regular occurrences.
As soon as you reach a goal, your brain won’t feel elated for more than a moment. It will promptly refocus on the next distant goal and try to solve how to get there.
Another reason is that most changes are gradual. You can hold a boundary successfully one day, then fail to do so on the next day. But this is NOT a sign that you are failing at change!
Instead of thinking of change as a place you arrive at, try to see it as a collection of successful moments. Like pointillism, a piece of art made by a series of dots. Each of those is an individual mark, but collected together over time, they make sense. Each dot matters in the creation of the art.
Each moment where you have a success builds toward the collective experience you want to be having.
Only when you speed up time and zoom out can you see each point collectively creates something meaningful.
Starting now, you can try to deliberately celebrate each moment you have a personal growth success. Mark that point in your journey as significant. Know that it helps to build the picture you are creating of your best life.
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