One of my favorite movie scenes is from Good Will Hunting. After only a few months of therapy, Will, the main character, has a major breakthrough in his therapist’s office. Then, he weeps into his therapist’s arms, he walks out the door a changed man, and changes his life.
It’s such a moving scene. We’ve been rooting for his character, and it’s touching to see him transform and live the life he deserves.
We all wish for moments like that. For that dramatic change that we’ve been working so hard for to instantaneously emerge and forever alter the course of our life.
Many people imagine that going to therapy is all for the lead up to that one, giant insight that changes your life. And it is true that some people, whether they are in therapy or not, certainly do have major breakthroughs that alter their inner world and life outside of it.
For most of us, however, change and growth take a different pace.
The truth is change is often slow. Unhurried. And occurs in tiny moments that can be easy to miss.
I know this is probably not what you wanted to hear.
When you’ve been living with a problem that you’re becoming more and more aware of, it makes sense to want the change to happen now. I get it. It’s frustrating.
We also live in a success-driven culture obsessed with fast results. So it can be very easy to feel like we’re not measuring up when change is taking its sweet time.
But after living with a problem for so many years, it also makes sense that it would take time for new patterns to develop.
In fact, this is how healing and growth actually occur. Our psyches are designed to fall apart so that we have the opportunity to go through the process of putting them back together, building upon novel experiences and perspectives one step at a time. A new form slowly takes shape, one that includes what has happened in the past that engendered our crumbling, along with the new, higher-order understanding of ourselves and our experience.
This is solid, lasting change, built from the bottom up. And we can’t make it happen any faster than it needs to.
The beautiful thing about this kind of change, though, is it allows us to grow into it. So often, we don’t even realize it’s happening because what is happening feels so hard. Feels like we’re never going to get there. Feels like we’re doing life wrong because we’re not there yet.
When, actually, deep change is occurring under the current of these stories in the mind. You are on the path. The willingness to struggle and tolerate uncertainty and darkness is the very manifestation of growth. The kind of growth that stays with you for life.
There is potential for profound transformation in falling apart and rebuilding, one slow step at a time. Trust that your growth is happening in every moment of struggle that you stay with yourself and honor the unique, precious rhythm of your life.