Discouraged: Disheartened, dampen, dispirited, overwhelmed, unmotivated.
The change process is difficult
Many times clients get discouraged with the journey of change. Be it losing weight, staying sober, fighting depression or numerous other issues, everyone starts off with enthusiasm and confidence but mid-way they lose stamina and contemplate quitting. Indeed, the change process can be overwhelming.
Keep your eye on the goal
Typically the process feels like 2 steps forward and 1 step back. If you keep your attention focused on what HAS NOT been accomplished, the task does seem impossible; the goal is unattainable.
The goal is closer than you believe
A discouraged client is usually looking ahead and seeing how long and lengthy the journey is. Instead, of focusing forward on the future, I suggest they turn around and look BACKWARD into the past.
You have changed more than you know
In hindsight, they are surprised how far they have come and how much change has occurred within themselves. The change process is slow and almost imperceivable to the untrained eye much like watching the growth of a plant. You can’t see a plant grow unless you are watching the process with the perspective of time lapsed photography.
In order to get perspective on their journey, I have the client imagine a long path winding up through many high mountains. Up ahead they can see only more and more hills to climb with no end insight. At this point when asked how they feel most say something like, “Overwhelmed, discouraged, intimidated,” much like they feel when contemplating a lasting change of a bad habit.
You are closer than you know
When clients observe the steep terrain they have already conquered or notice how much distance they have traveled, they report feeling energized and encouraged. They were doing more things right than they knew. They have come farther than they realized.
A different perspective
It is just like hiking backwards using different muscles until you have the strength to walk forward again. Sometimes we move backwards to then move forward more quickly.
How do you get to the end of long road?
Taking one step at a time. When climbing doesn’t look at the far distance goal, just look at the closest landmark and concentrate on arriving there. “How do you eat an elephant? One bite at a time.”
If you are 100 pounds over weight, focus on eating small proportions for one meal. Stay sober one day at a time and fight depression by doing one brave thing each day.
Relapse is not a disaster
Robert Brault wisely quipped, “Taking a step backward after taking a step forward is not a disaster, it’s cha-cha!” So during in the change process—Look forward or backward—just don’t give up! You’ll eventually reach your destination. Believe in yourself and your self esteem will increase.
Camille Curtis Foster, MSW, LCSW