Sarah thought that knowing the solution to a problem was the same thing as solving it. “I know I need to be more tolerant and accepting of my husband,” she stated, “so I’ll just do that. I’ll be more patient and accepting of him.” But Sarah didn’t succeed. She would forget her resolution or, when she remembered it, her tolerance would last about five minutes. “I’m beginning to think that I just can’t live with him,” she would repeatedly say in exasperation.
Sarah knew the answer to improving her marriage, but she was unprepared to implement it. She tried to change her outer behavior without changing her inner attitudes. She wanted to impose change rather than undergo change. You see a similar type of perspective in New Age and New Thought philosophies. Don’t think about what you are, or what you don’t like. Don’t wrestle with your shadow. Focus on what you want to be. Imagine that you are already living the life you want to live and it will soon be yours. And then people get frustrated that they continue to be the people they don’t want to be. Those nagging traits and tendencies just keep on nagging.
Why does this happen? It happens because nothing changes if nothing changes. Unconscious attitudes and values cannot just be swept away with good intentions, positive thinking, or an iron will. Unless things change deep down, outer change will be fleeting, inconsistent, deceptive, and ultimately sabotaged. There is no rainbow bridge over the swamp; you’ve got to walk through it. You’ve got to look your shadow in the face and wrestle with the emotions, attitudes, and unconscious goals that drive your behavior from below. Unless change occurs here, real change doesn’t occur.
Copyright © Andy Drymalski, Ed.D.
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