Who Needs To Change?

18 March, 2012

Have you ever wondered where the motivation for change really comes from?

Anyone you know working with a number of different people on a weekly basis well tell you they observe certain "weather patterns" (as my Yoga teacher calls it) with people. What this means to me and what I observe, is that there are periods of certain trends, where my clients will individually show up over that period, with very similar problems to each other. Of course, this is all unbeknownst to the individuals!

I have yet to work out why this occurs; the weather? The stars and the planets? Me?! It is certainly unmistakeable though, and certainly interesting to observe.

The weather pattern I have observed most recently is this question of who needs to change? I seem to have clients with very cunning persuasion skills: they can persuade their nearest and dearest - mother, father, daughter, husband, wife - to make an appointment with me to address themselves and make some changes in their life.

Seems OK so far, right? So, what's the problem?

Well, what typically happens when the client arrives is that their perception of what their own problems are, and the perception of their problems as stated by the loved one that persuaded them to come and see me - are often quite different. This then produces a question of whose outcomes are we working with here?

The ONLY answer is to work with the outcomes as set by my client; and what feels important to them, what they personally believe is a problem, and what they personally would like to do about it. This is all a therapist or a coach can do. What typically happens in these persuasion scenarios is the person does not agree that there is a problem they would like to do anything about.

There is only one key ingredient for change - the rest just involves careful collaborating and planning and various techniques, which is the easy part. The key part is a true motivation that comes from deep within. A sense of "I can't carry on this way and I have to change" or a strong desire to do something different. And the willingness and motivation and tenacity that comes with that to do what it takes to make the difference.

These are the clients most fun to work with and these are the clients that tend to get themselves the results they're after.

Do Some Checking

It is tempting to want someone else to change because you love them, worry about them, want the best for them, or because their issue (as you see it) negatively impacts you and life would just be easier if it changed. However, the desire and motivation has to come from the person themselves, so do some checking before an appointment it made:

The Persuader:

If you find yourself being the "persuader" do some checking before you go on your persuading mission. Ask yourself: What's MY problem about this person? What's actually mine, and what is theirs? What might I need to change within myself that could make a difference here?

And how does this person react when I suggest they might go and see someone to address themselves? Do they agree with my perception of the problem? Are they a customer for change? Is there resistance?

If there is not immediate agreement you are going to have a hard job on your hands (and then put a hard job in my hands). The best thing you can do is plant the seeds so that the desire to change becomes theirs, not yours. You can make suggestions, you can give your opinion, you can recommend someone they might see, and then you can back off and wait. This may take some time, but it will be worth it in the end if you really care about them getting results.

The Persuadee:

If you find yourself having a conversation with someone that loves you about the possibility of you seeing a professional for change, check to see what their version of the problem is, and see if you agree. Ask yourself: Can I see evidence in what they are saying? Can I relate this to my own experience?

Remind yourself that they love you, care about you, and want the best for you.

If you don't agree with their perception of your problem, then ask yourself: What is a problem for me? Where do I feel blocked or stuck? What would I benefit from changing?

If you can identify something, there is not doubt you will find therapy helpful.

It has to be your desire, and your motivation to do what it takes to change.

"Everyone wants to be strong and self sufficient, but few are willing to put in the work necessary to achieve worthy goals" ~ Mahatma Gandhi

As always, I am interested in your questions and comments. Would love to hear from you!

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