Change is an interesting thing. People often come to therapy wanting to change. Sometimes it is small change…little behaviors to make life easier. But often it is major change – like gender transition. Clients will talk about how they have the wrong body or that they’ve never truly been themselves. That makes perfect sense for someone’s who mental and emotional identity doesn’t match his or her physical body.
The really interesting thing though, is that no matter how much people talk about wanting change, about becoming who they really are, there frequently comes a point where they say something like the following – “My biggest fear is that people will look at me differently, as if I’m not still me.”
Huh? How can that be? You’ve said over and over that you aren’t you, that you want to change. And your biggest fear is that people will think you have changed, that you are no longer who you used to be.
It is an interesting paradox. But what does it really mean? One of the best ways I’ve heard it explained is this. I do want to change…what I want is to be MORE of me. I want people to see that the person they knew is still there, I have just changed the parts that didn’t fit. I don’t want them to think the real core of me has changed.
This view can be applied to just about any change. When we try to change to become truer to our real self, we are changing. But we are also staying the same. Those core parts of us are still there…in fact they may be even stronger.
Healthy living is actually a process of ongoing change. Sometimes it is purposeful and intentional. But we are always learning, adapting, growing, changing. Even when we don’t want to! But even with the changes, we still are who we are.
Of course this isn’t a new idea. As the old French saying goes – The more things change, the more they stay the same.