“Alice: Would you tell me, please, which way I ought to go from here?
The Cheshire Cat: That depends a good deal on where you want to get to.
Alice: I don’t much care where.
The Cheshire Cat: Then it doesn’t much matter which way you go.
Alice: …So long as I get somewhere.
The Cheshire Cat: Oh, you’re sure to do that, if only you walk long enough.”
Lewis Carroll, Alice in Wonderland
Beginning therapy can be a confusing time, you know you want things to change, that’s why you started on this road in the first place, but change what and how?
Change is often something that is feared ‘better the devil you know’ we are often told, but as Albert Einstein said ‘Insanity is doing the same thing over and over again and expecting different results’.
Changing our behaviour, emotions, responses and feelings is a fearful experience because it is an unknown. How do we know the new way of being we are striving and hoping for is the right one? Changing things brings up new thoughts and feelings which can seem alien, because we have no point of reference, because we are in uncharted territory, mentally and emotionally.
In Alice’s journey into the world of adulthood, she needs to find a place in the world that feels secure and is true to herself. When she talks to the Cheshire Cat, she neither knows who she is or where she is going. Therapy often starts with this beginning, the Client will explore with the Therapist, who they are and how they got to this point in their lives. Both the Therapist and the Clients will hold onto the fact that the Client wants, like Alice, to end up somewhere; but may not know where that somewhere is right now.
Sometimes people need to explore and try out different things before they find the right path for them, this can take time and needs support. As in life there will be ups and downs. As the therapy progresses and like Alice, the Client begins to be the person they want to be; who has made the changes (however difficult) that they hope for when they started.
Time and patience with one’s self is key to the process, but many of us like Alice are in a hurry and want things to be sorted out instantly. Whilst it may be possible to change some things in a short time, deep long-lasting change can take a while, it is not simply a case of eating some cake or drinking a potion.