What are the difference between now and tomorrow? What lies between our desires to our fulfillment? What lies between our expectation of ourselves and those around us and having it? This is a process that is either immediate or slow. “Some things are very easy for me to get,” says Betty (43), “for example, at my job, I ask the employees to complete certain assignments and they perform immediately.” “Where is the process slow?” I asked. When it comes to me, there is always a gap between my desire and my performance. Every night before I go to sleep I tell myself that tomorrow I will start the change but it hardly happens.
Betty is frustrated and disappointed with herself. She is also disappointed with her physical appearance. “Most of my clothes do not fit me,” she complains. “Every morning I discover a new wrinkle in my face, I decided to start from tomorrow a healthy lifestyle. I know exactly how to do it, but somehow it doesn’t happen.”
The gap between the desire to performance and fulfillment of our dreams was a subject of many articles, books, and research. Most of these deals with self-help advice from professionals and people attesting to their success. Betty reads many of these self-help books and understood their message as: “if you think positively – you will succeed.” However, such promises do not help the process. The human mind is not simple and easy. Usually, the process is long and tedious, and in fact, it is an endless process. Even if you fulfill your dream or reach your goal, you will have to continue to maintain what exists.
At the beginning of each psychotherapy session, we examine together what is success or failure for Betty. We examine different patterns of success and failure in her family as well as in her past and upbringing. Betty described her mother as a hardworking woman who was ambitious and focused on her success. As a child, Betty felt that her mom didn’t love her. She views her mom as a model but has a hard time juggling taking care of herself and raising her two children. The thought in Betty’s head is very rigid: “I can be either a good mom or only take care of myself.”
Part of the psychotherapy is the fear behind Betty’s difficulty with dealing with her life. If you are undergoing a similar process you can use the following tools. First, Betty understands that what is important is the process and it has to begin now. Starting now, at this moment, is the basis. Tomorrow is the future to which we want to reach, and we cannot reach it if we do not start changing now. Second, as part of the change, Betty learns to accept that change is as written above a process and that in the process she might feel ups and downs of frustration, anger, sorrow and self-judgment and that the change might not be tomorrow. Third, the perfect change or the “perfect day” does not really exist, but she needs consistency and persistence for when success seems far away. As part of the process, we often have to ask for help from friends, family and professionals. As for help, at this point Betty is in the process of understanding the meaning of “getting help” for her (“I am weak, I can not”) and learning that taking and getting help is actually meaning “being strong”. She learns ways that Cognitive- Behavioral Therapy will help her to get the help she needs.
Film actress Cameron Diaz writes in her book, The Longevity, that we are the only ones that have the keys to healthy living: eating right, exercising, and getting adequate rest. Her main point is optimistic: ” Tomorrow is Another Day” says Scarlett in the famous book by Margaret Mitchell’s “Gone With the Wind”.
The article is based on an article I wrote in Hebrew published in Israpost Magazine