What do things like asking loved ones for advice, reading stacks of self-help books, taking classes, searching for a good therapist, or hours of web-searching all have in common? You probably guessed it. There is something the seeker wishes to change. As a family therapist, I am called on for help with many different types of problems but all with the same goal–making changes to find greater happiness, deeper love, greater success in life, or fewer failures in love or work.
Change is a great teacher, although certainly unpredictable–sometimes harsh, sometimes exciting, often frightening or overwhelming. What makes change so difficult? Why is it so hard to sustain? What is it about change that the very idea of it can put fear into the hearts of otherwise courageous folk?
Given that change is an inevitable part of life, it makes sense that each of us figure out how to increase our capacity to rebound or spring back from change and loss, a concept now called resiliency by social science researchers. Although some aspects of resiliency are inborn, other aspects can be learned and practiced.
Just as individuals go through stages of growth and development from infancy to adulthood, so does the family move through the various cycles of life, including sickness, death and other losses. At each stage, and especially in crises, the relationships of each member to others in the family need to adapt and change.
The demands of babies and toddlers are vastly different than when kids reach school age. At first dependent upon adults for their very survival, children seek for more and more independence as they grow and mature. All of our relationships–between child and parent, brother and sister, partner or mate, adult and aging parents–must keep being redesigned to meet rapidly changing circumstances if they are to remain helpful and healthy.
“Any change, even a change for the better, is always accompanied by drawbacks and discomforts.” -Arnold Bennett …