The Paradox of Change

Therapists love to talk about change and how resistant systems are to it.  We toss out words like “homeostasis” to explain how our system wants to simply stay the same and not change.  Even when we want to change, we fight it.  Therapists will accuse you of “self-sabotage”.

Why is it then, that sometimes change happens despite us and in ways we don’t want?  Life can be moving along, homeostasis keeping us complacently in place when suddenly it happens.  “It” can be lots of things – a death, illness, divorce, marriage…the list goes on and on.  But the end result is the same.  Our system changes.

These changes seem to never be in the way we want.  They often mean having a new, unwanted role thrust upon us.  Suddenly we become the caretaker or the decision maker or someone has to replace Aunt Mathilda as the family historian.  The way in which the system chooses to assign new duties often seems unknowable.  After all, you didn’t volunteer for these tasks!  Somehow the system just decided that they are now your job.

One option is to just accept this new role that has been thrust upon you.  Someone has to do them and the mystical system chose you.  But what do you do if you don’t want these responsibilities?  One answer is to set boundaries…say “No”, I won’t accept this new role.

But of course, like much of life, the answer is never so clear cut. Setting boundaries means other trade offs.  You might alienate other members of the system or feel guilt over your decision.  But going along may slowly eat at you, irritation and resentment growing.

It comes down to something that can be a challenge to find – balance. You need to find the balance between the sacrifices of accepting some or all of the responsibilities and setting firm boundaries.  It is the balance between always doing as we are told and always doing what we want.

Everyone has to do things they don’t like at times.  But no one should be expected to do things that are not healthy for them.  There in lies the challenge.  What are your true desires, what is really about being the healthy, happy you and what is simply avoiding responsibility?

When change is thrust upon us it is possible to find balance.  It may not be easy.  But search your soul.  Be honest with yourself and don’t be afraid to draw boundaries that are in your best interest.  But at the same time don’t lose sight of the trade offs you may be making.  Dig deep…the answer is in there.

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About awentherapy

I am Jay Blevins, LMFT (www.awentherapy.com). I am a licensed systems therapist with a private practice in Madison, WI. While I work with individuals and partners around a wide variety of issues, my primary focus in on alternative relationship structures, alternative sex and sexuality, and power dynamics. I am a contributor to various relationship and sexuality blogs and publications and have been a frequent presenter at alternative lifestyle events and psychotherapy conferences.
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