Diving in the first few times is hard, but after a while it just becomes fun!
In my decades of work as a director, developer, author and clinical psychologist at the Smart Therapy Centre I have found that it is not easy to get people to take the plunge into unknown waters!
But if we want to survive life well and be the best we can, then taking the plunge and continually learning new skills is not just exciting but absolutely essential!
In fact, I would say that almost every person I have ever seen in my clinical work is there because they have experienced a life-changing event (big or small) that has moved them into unknown territory, and they no longer have the necessary skills to allow them to move forward in this new context.
When we are in this holding pattern, unable to get the traction to progress, we often experience anxious and depressive emotions and thinking styles that are not helpful. We may also employ many self-sabotaging behaviours like alcohol, drugs, over-eating, outbursts of rage or stubborn sulking as we try to cope. But these old habits prove useless and only make matters worse.
Instead we must learn not to focus on our negative emotions, but rather simply treat them as a ‘signal’ that we need to learn new and better skills in order to regain the motivation to once again propel ourselves forward.
In reality, when we lack skills we simply don’t know how to progress, and it is easy to feel defeated and unmotivated. After all, we humans only have one brain and (unfortunately) we don’t know what we don’t know.
To get around this dilemma, we can often learn these skills by watching other people who are doing well and simply copying their behaviour. We don’t necessarily need to be super-analytical about it, we can just decide to adopt a new useful behaviour that might give us a better outcome.
For example, if we keep having outbursts of anger that keep driving other people away, leaving us isolated and alone – we can observe others who do not express anger and who instead always remain friendly and cooperative (especially when negotiating conflict).
We can just decide to copy them and take any signs of our own anger (even the most subtle signs) off our repertoire. For example, we simply make the decision to smile and approach others more and make our face and physical gestures friendly (even if we don’t initially feel it). We can listen more and nod our heads and establish rapport, remaining calm no matter what the situation. We rationally discuss the issues at hand, putting arguments and countering arguments – while always staying relaxed and friendly.
We might ‘choose’ to never (even once) use the ‘anger’ strategy for maybe a year and then reassess ourselves and see whether things have improved as a result. Have we stopped driving others away; are we less isolated now; are we developing a friendship network; are we resolving conflicts better? If yes, keep going – if no, try something else.
In any case, if you are feeling stuck and need assistance with these types of issues, then at the Smart Therapy Centre we can coach you to develop both the skills and the fortitude to thrive in your life. We are ‘behavioural change’ experts and we can teach and enable you to propel yourself forward – so that you learn to swim powerfully on your own!