Therapist's Note: Getting started on the process of making change is often an underestimated task. It takes a lot of courage to enter into the uncertainty of something new. By the time a client finds their way to me, they've done a lot of work laying the foundation for change just in all the work they did to decide it was okay to contact me about counseling. If you're thinking about making a change, like reducing anxiety or improving your relationship or finally listening to that nagging sense that something in your life isn't quite right, this post can help you name and overcome the fears you have around getting started.
Here I go.
I am starting.
Have you ever watched a fresh, tiny infant?
A baby newly born moves in unusual, awkward ways. For so long, she was accustomed to the tight quarters of the womb that held her movements in check. She could flail, kick, and punch--but only so far before her fists, elbows, and feet would meet the solid walls of her protective, cozy habitat. Now, living in the expansive, wide open world, baby's arms and legs move with wild abandon in ways she is not expecting.
A baby newly born startles easily in this strange new context. She inadvertently bumps into her own face. Or, just as alarming, she bumps into absolutely nothing at all.
I imagine it must feel a bit like absentmindedly walking down a set of stairs, expecting another step beneath you only to strike level ground. For a brief moment, your mind and body are thrown into confusion. You shake it off, regain your balance, and are less likely to be thrown off the next trip.
When we begin to make change, we are babies newly born. Our efforts are sweet and precious, worthy of watching with a sense of wonder, but also...startlingly awkward.
We flail. We accidentally bump into our own face.
A baby newly born loves to be snuggled up, tightly enclosed and pressed up against the warmth of a caregiver. There are no unusual, awkward movements--nothing that can startle--when nestled inside a womb-like embrace.
Yet a baby also needs room to stretch and begin to make sense of her own muscles in the real world.
When we begin to make change, we are newly born babies. We need people and places that feel familiar, that hold us close, that nurture us and snuggle us tight.
And, we need room to stretch. Room to exercise new parts of ourselves. Room to make mistakes.
I pondered writing this first entry for quite some time. I wanted to get it exactly right. To start off on the perfect note. Be graceful.
But then I realized that starting this blog is just like starting anything new. If we wait until we can do it exactly right, with no clumsiness, without the possibility of being startled--if we wait until that time...well, we'll never get started.
Nothing new is graceful in the beginning. And that truth, in and of itself, is a form of grace. Permission to be messy. Permission to get startled. Permission to feel confused.
So here I am, emerging from the safety of the womb, flailing out into the world.
I hope you'll join me.
Be a baby.
For further reflection: If there was no possibility of failure, what one change in your life would you want to make first?
Here you will find metaphors, images, reflections, and inspiration on the change process. Psychotherapy intersects with creativity, nature, and spirituality on these pages. You can start anywhere you'd like. You'll find a note on my thoughts as a therapist as well as a prompt for your own reflection at the beginning and end of each entry.
I'm a licensed therapist in private practice in Indianapolis who provides counseling to individuals and couples, particularly around issues of anxiety, adjustment, and relationship wellness.