The paradox of change

Sarah writes:

In my work as a therapist and in my everyday life, I’m surrounded by people who want to change.   They are unhappy about some part of themselves in the present, and have a desire to eradicate it and embrace a new better evolved version of themselves.

Feelings of shame and disgust are usually attached to the unwanted self, and this almost always makes me sad.   People seldom have compassion for the parts of themselves they don’t like or don’t want.  I rarely see people try to understand or make sense of these bits, it’s much more usual for people to judge these parts of themselves in a nasty unhelpful way; being angry and impatient with themselves.

‘I hate that I…….. have no confidence…..can’t stop smoking …………….stress about exams…………am so fat……………’

Ironically this process and these thoughts delays change.

If I want to change something about myself, I must first understand why I do it in the first place.

I can’t fix the fact that I have no confidence without understanding why.  I can’t stop smoking/ taking drugs / eating too much without truly understanding why I do it in the first place.

These are broken and wounded parts of ourselves; and to heal they need compassion and understanding, not criticism.  

Beisser’s (1970) paradoxical theory of change states ‘that change occurs when one becomes what he is, not when he tries to become what he is not’. Movement cannot happen without a sure foothold, and before we can move towards what we might like to become, we must fully acknowledge what we are.

If you were to try that, right now, how would that be?   To be more understanding of the broken and wounded parts of yourself and less critical.   How does that feel?

Accepting ourselves messy and whole; experiencing our feelings fully is an important part of movement in the process of change.

Carl Rodgers says:

‘The curious paradox is that when I accept myself just as I am, then I change’

Photo Sarah Loeb