There’s an old lightbulb joke that goes something like this:
“How many psychiatrists does it take to change a lightbulb?”
The answer: “One. But the lightbulb has to want to change.”
Before wanting, comes belief. All change begins with a simple belief: Change is possible.
Sometimes I sit with couples and hear things like, “She’ll never change, she’s been this way forever,” or “He’s so stuck, it’ll always be this way.” To these negative statements I respond, if two people believe that change is possible, and are willing to work toward it, then…well…change is possible!
Change takes work. Whether we’re talking about making changes in ourselves or making changes in our pattern of interaction with others, change takes time, effort, and dedication. If you’ve ever taken a long absence from the gym or your favorite sport, and then gone back and tried to work-out, you might remember how foreign it seemed at first, and how weak you felt. But if you kept at it, you probably saw progress; comfort in your routine, noticeable improvements in your endurance, muscle tone, and mood. The same is true for other skills that we work to acquire, and it is certainly true for emotions and relationships. It takes a lot of effort, but it is so worth it!
Act and You Shall Become:
Sometimes people are hesitant to change their thoughts and behaviors because it doesn’t feel “authentic,” or in a relationship people sometimes think that change should happen “organically.” With regard to authenticity, I’d say that if you’ve been stuck in an unhealthy thought or behavioral pattern, then yes, this change will not feel authentic—not at first. But, after a while it will become authentic! After a while you will be able to embrace self-love and self-compassion and offer these feelings to others. You needn’t alter your personality, for within every temperament, there is room for positivity and validation. When it comes to relationships, we can’t rely on getting all of our needs met “organically,” any more than we can expect our partners to be able to read our minds and know how best to support us. What comes organically to one person, based on their family of origin and life experience, can be very different from what comes organically to someone else from a different background. Altering our usual practices may feel foreign, but out of that discomfort a beautiful, fulfilling relationship with yourself and others can blossom.
Believe, Work, Act, and Become!
Here’s to You!