Resisting to Change (Part 3 of 4)
Greetings and welcome to my post. The purpose of this post is to engage in conversation about how all of us do relationships. I believe that we are created for relationships and what brings the most meaning for our lives is the significant relationships we have with people. When we have positive, growing, and happy relationships, then our lives become more meaningful. But the opposite can also happen when we have conflict, hate, and hurt in our most important relationships. Then life can become very stressful and depressing.
When you seek counseling, you began the process of change. But inwardly there is a resistance to change. We want to change and get out of just doing the conforming patterns that are familiar. But, inside we resist this change, and we allow all sorts of issues to prevent us to change. Consider the following example. Every day after work, a very depressed young man name Sam sits in the dark in his living room hour after hour, doing nothing, his mind blank. By his side is his stereo and a magnificent collection of his favorite rock and pop music. The flick of a switch and he would feel better. Yet day after day and night after night, overwhelmed by his depression and despair with life, he just sits, never once touching that switch. He could feel better by saying yes to the switch; yet, he says no and does nothing and remains stuck.
When we think about change and overcoming our illusions that serve to keep us stuck and resistant, I want to focus on four areas we all need to consider when it comes to changing and the resistant illusions we have about people when it comes to these four major themes for our lives. In this post, I will talk about Bonding and Boundaries and in my next post, I will talk about Acceptance and Authority. In my discussion of these subjects, I will talk about Sam and his difficulties to change.
The first area that all of us need to have for our lives to change is people that we can bond with. In the 1970’s, there was a popular song by Barbara Streisand in which one of the lines was: “People who need people are the luckiest people in the world.” To be needy is really good and very important to our relationship health. If you want to change and overcome your resistance, you have to start by really concluding you need love, trust, care, and empathy from other people. Sam needs to start with the conclusion that he needs people in order to overcome his depression.
There are three things Sam must do to overcome his illusion and entitled wish concerning others and his conclusion people now are untrustworthy, just like his father was as a child. First, he is going to have to move from isolation into a safe environment with people in which he can overcome his protest and anger due to past people letting him down and his current illusion that all people are going to let him down. That is not currently true; but that is his illusion. Second, he has to find hope that others do want to like and help him. If he feels hopeless, then he will remain stuck and resistant to others helping him. But if he can find hope that others do really want to care for him, he might start to feel hopeful again. The final area that Sam needs to do is make a list of his needs and wants. Sam needs to know that others do want to meet his needs. But if Sam buries his needs and concludes his needs are bad, then he will project that onto other people and make others out to be bad people who will never meet his needs. But that is not true now. There are safe people that Sam can have in his life. But he needs to find safe people and hope and know his needs and start moving from isolation and loneliness to giving people a chance to care for him and help him.
Therefore, Sam is going to have to challenge some of his false thinking and beliefs when it comes to bonding and how he views others or himself. He is going to have to change some of these statements: ‘No one is trustworthy’ ‘People will always leave me’ ‘People are mean and critical’ ‘People will control me’ ‘People are faking their care’ ‘I am bad and unlovable’ ‘I don’t deserve love’ ‘My sins or badness are worse than other people’s sins’ ‘My neediness will overwhelm anyone’ ‘My feelings will overwhelm others.’ Sam’s views are from his past and now he is going to have to grieve and move out of isolation and allow current people another chance. By doing this, he is moving towards recognizing what he needs now for his life and for his future which is leaning how to bond.
The second area Sam needs to overcome is his illusion and entitled wish others have to take care of him. But this is not true. Sam can responsibility for his life and ask for what he wants and needs. If Sam sits back and waits for someone else to change for him, then he is being passive and not taking responsibility for his life. In Sam’s past, his father failed to love him in the way he needed it. His father did not allow him to take responsibility for his life but instead Sam felt responsible for his father’s life (his drinking, anger, and control).
But Sam can’t wait for others to take care of him. He can’t just sit in the dark, with his stereo by his side, feeling sorry for himself and concluding that others have to do something first before he feels he can do anything. Sam took care of his father in the past and now he feels others should take of him. He gave to his dad in the past and now he wants someone to give to him. If his illusion is others have to do something first before he can do anything, then he will remain stuck and depressed.
So what does Sam need to do to develop his boundaries for his life? He is going to have to clarify some areas of his life. In his past, he buried what he was suppose to own for his life and he became focused on his father, trying to meet his needs and please him. But now he has to take ownership over his life and give himself permission to own his feelings, attitudes, behaviors, thoughts, abilities, choices, wants, and love. For years Sam felt his father owned his time and to tried to gain his father’s love by earning his approval. So now if Sam does not take back his time and invest in what he wants for his life, he will continue to conclude that others own his life and he is not allowed to take responsibility for his life.
So how can Sam take back his life? He is going to have to disappoint and frustrate others. He is going to have to stop taking care of others and start taking care of himself. He is going to have to stop waiting for others to be happy with him and start finding happiness for himself. Sam is going to have to stop worrying what others are going to think or do, and start focusing on what he wants to do. Basically he is going to have to start saying the word ‘no’ and ‘yes’ when it comes to how he conducts his life. He has to say no to people and places that are not good for him and he has to say yes to others and to life by engaging in things that are good for him. Flipping on the switch to the stereo will be good for him.
Therefore, he is going to have to challenge some of his false thinking and beliefs when it comes to boundaries regarding how he views others or himself. He is going to have to change some of these statements that keep him stuck in depression: ‘They will hate me for saying no’ ‘People will leave me for having my own boundaries’ ‘People are controlling and will manipulate me if I say no’ ‘People will resent me and my assertiveness and requests’ ‘Others will leave me if I don’t keep them happy’ ‘People expect me to be compliant to their wants and wishes’ ‘I am bad for having boundaries’ ‘I am selfish for owning my own life’ ‘My wants are not important’ ‘I must do whatever anyone wants of me.’ Sam now has to decide if he wants to take responsibility and control over his life versus waiting for others to rescue him and take care of him. It is now his time to take ownership over his life. For when he does this, he will start to have boundaries and take responsibility for his life and his choices.
Phil Kiehl, LMFT, M.Div.
P.S. I’d love to hear your thoughts about this subject. Share your comments and share this article with others. Thanks.