Why don’t I see real results? (part 1)

Lisa (not her real name) comes to therapy because she is frustrated. She has invested a great deal of time, money, and energy into achieving a particular goal in her life—and it hasn’t happened. Lisa is angry that her efforts don’t seem to be paying off. She has come to my office because she wants to know why she hasn’t seen “real results” in her life.

Here is what Lisa is coming to accept: it is difficult, if not impossible, to achieve real results if you never acknowledged your real starting place. Like Lisa, many of us are unwilling to honestly consider the parts of reality we don’t personally like.

Some of us pretend that actions don’t matter; others of us minimize the power of words.
Some of us imagine that if we can’t see it, it doesn’t exist; others of us refuse to honestly admit what our physical senses tell us.
Some of us believe that feelings (ours or others’) shouldn’t matter, so we ignore them; others assert that feelings are all that matter, and ignore everything else.

We struggle to see real results, in short, because we didn’t start out being real.

We didn’t start by telling the whole truth, with as much clarity and kindness as we could muster.
We refused to admit that the truth is more complex and nuanced than we’d prefer.
We looked some part of reality in the face and pretended it would go away because we didn’t like it.
We thought, “Well, I know that X is going on, but that’s not supposed to matter/I can’t deal with it” and proceed to stick our fingers in our ears, cover our eyes, and use silence as a means of lying.

The more nuanced and complete version of reality you’re willing to see at the beginning, the more likely you are to realize desired results in your future.

If you’ve been struggling and fighting for results that haven’t shown up yet, perhaps this question is for you: What have you been pretending not to know?

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