Tuesday, September 21, 2010

Change Takes Time (and requires investment)

Pain motivates people, but only for a short time. When in distress, people will do about anything you ask if they think you can help them to alleviate their discomfort.

"Could you come for an appointment at ________?" Client, "Sure, whenever you say. Nothing is more important than this right now." But, get a few weeks down the road, and scheduling becomes a challenge. "Things are just so busy right now. I'll have to wait a few weeks before scheduling my next appointment."

Social Psychology has proven that we humans are creatures of habit, and that the inertia of our psyche is to keep doing the same things and thinking the same ways, even if they are unhealthy. We need look no further than to those who live in codependent relationships or repeatedly subject themselves to spousal abuse (domestic violence) to illustrate this sad truth.

At Grace and Truth we proclaim the truth that with God all things are possible, but they might not come easily. We say this to our clients like this, "The good news is that (your marriage can be saved/you can learn healthier ways to relate to your spouse/children, you can learn to live sober and clean, your depression/anxiety can be alleviated...BUT the bad news is that it is going to take time and require significant effort on your part."

After a few years of taking calls from potential clients in crisis, I usually have a pretty good idea which ones will follow through with time, effort and financial investment in a counseling or coaching process designed to help them live more pleasurably and productively. They are the ones that lead with statements like this, "We know that things didn't get this way overnight, and we don't expect them to get better overnight. We're prepared to invest in this process as long as it takes, because we can't go on living like this any longer." They lead with a description of their difficulties, ask if I'm experienced in helping with such issues, and treat the opportunity to be helped as a privilege.

Those that aren't apt to follow through lead with statements about how difficult it will be to say no to their current schedule of activities (the kids have this and that, I'm a volunteer here or there), and disclosure that they are shopping for the most cost effective option.

I'll close with an observation by Hugh Hewitt,from his book, "In But Not Of: A Guide to Christian Ambition". (paraphrase) "I know of a retired officer (a Colonel) in the French Army. He wanted to be a General, and could have been, but I guarantee you that if you take a look at his career, there was a time when he was faced with the choice to pay the price to become a General, and he said no. It's not enough to say that you want to accomplish something, you must also be willing to pay the price."

Sustainable motivation is a function of clear vision about what can be, sober understanding that realizing our goals and dreams will be costly, and sustained effort in the process.

What do you want? And, are you willing to pay the price?

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