“Where there is no vision, the people perish …” – Proverbs 29:18
When we are frustrated, unhappy or confused, and we know something has to change, what is required in order to make that change? Is it will power? Can we force ourselves to act differently? Can we control our emotions? Can we ‘choose’ to be happy? Are we able to make other people change? Can we change our way of thinking?
These questions are being posed because one of the major obstacles to self-improvement is the absence of a positive vision. That is, the inability to imagine a better future.
Let’s say we are dissatisfied with our lives and it’s affecting our functioning. As we prepare to make a significant personal change, it is essential to clearly identify the problem. This seems obvious, but surprisingly many people don’t complete this step before proceeding. So, we should acknowledge the problem, and so we can determine that this must not go on. Then we are likely to ask ourselves what we should do about the situation. But, not so fast. Before considering what to do, we must ask a more basic question. That is, do we actually believe, and can we imagine that things can be better? Can we envision ourselves in a different scenario?
A client recently admitted that before participating in therapy, she had never imagined that her bad situation could change, or that she could get past the after-effects of her childhood trauma. Her conclusion was something like, ‘This is my life, this is the way I am, and I have to live with it.’ She had never seen in her mind’s eye the possibility that she could be free of the misery her family had caused her. It wasn’t until she allowed herself to see this possibility that she believed she could be happy.
At this point it makes sense to ask what keeps us from seeing a happy future. Are some people born pessimists, doomed to live in negativity? That makes no sense, so we discard that a idea. Or, could it be that we lost something along the way, as the years went by? Or, is our inability to see new possibilities the result of childhood conditioning? In other words, do people develop a general attitude of negativity and pessimism as a direct result of the input they get from influential people: parents, teachers, ministers, and others.
Regardless of the cause of the lack of vision/imagination, just think what would open up to us, when we believe that change is truly possible. You might want to get started by finding stories about people who suffered great losses or failures, and who had suffered from depression and hopelessness …but then, they recovered and found fulfillment and success. The fact is that anyone – ANYONE – can change the direction of their lives. If you think that is not true for you, even though so many others have succeeded before you, I challenge you to ask yourself this question: What make you so special, that you’re the only person in the world who can not change. Do you think your suffering is worse than the suffering of Nelson Mandela? Helen Keller? Jackie Robinson? What about Abraham Lincoln, who suffered severe depression?
It may be that the greatest obstacle to change is you, yourself. Your ego. Your stubbornness and your fear. If you think you need help looking inside in order to help you make the change(s) you know you need to make, maybe this is the time to reach out. If so, please feel free to call (219) 309-3928. I would be honored to be of service.
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Thanks for reading!