I have lived in Wisconsin my entire life, so I know a few things about snow. For instance, I know that when you get your car stuck in the snow that getting unstuck can be quiet a process. It would be great if you could just drive out in one big motion, but then not being able to do that is the definition of stuck!
So what do you do in that situation? You rock your car. Accelerate for a moment and then let off the gas so your car rock backwards. You do it again and again because each time you do it you make your path just a little longer. A couple of inches in the front and then rock back and make it a couple longer in the back. After a while you have enough of a path that you can just rev the engine and go.
Therapy is a lot like that. People often come into therapy wanting a quick, simple solution. And while the answer to being stuck in the snow is simple (just drive out!), the method to do it takes a little more work. And just like you can “know” the solution to the problem that brought you to therapy, implementing it can take some work.
Our brain is an amazing organ. As we do certain behaviors or ascribe to certain beliefs, our brain hard wires neural pathways for us. As those pathways become more and more developed it enables us to do or think those things more easily. In general that is great. However, there is a downside. It also means that it gets more and more difficult to see new ways to think about or do these things. We can become stuck in certain perspectives or methods.
When thinking becomes that ingrained, it can be very difficult to break out of it. So what do we do? We “rock” your brain. That’s right we start having you make small movements. It might begin with just thinking about something differently for a moment. You don’t have to agree or believe it. Just consider it. Then do it again with something else. Next it might not be about thinking but about doing an action differently for just a very brief time. It might just be seconds. Then next time it might be for twice as long.
This process can seem slow and even pointless to clients at times. But what we are doing is creating room for different thoughts and perspectives to occur. Just like rocking the car makes a new pathway for the tire to travel, a little bit at a time, these small moment of different thought start making new pathways for new perspectives.
The beauty of this is that not only is it an effective technique in therapy, you can also do it yourself any time, anywhere. Just start rocking your brain by thinking about a different perspective, a different opinion for just a moment or two. Try doing something just a little differently to see how it goes. Do it over and over. A little longer each time. Will it feel different the first day? Probably not. It probably won’t feel different the second or third day, either. But over time you may just rock yourself out of that rut.