Therapy generally includes some desire for change in our lives. Whether our desired change is big or small our inspirations and goals are valuable and hopefully bring much joy and purpose to our lives.
When seeking to make some change, we start with an inspiration for a goal and then we have the chance to define the goal clearly and map out a path toward that goal. What often happens is that we aim high (not a bad idea in and of itself) and then we tend to fall a bit short of where we aimed (also not a bad thing). This is where we find there is a gap between expectation and reality. It is common to have some unrealistic ideas about what we can achieve or how quickly we can accomplish something. It is the job of the strong psyche to manage that gap with curiosity and kindness. A good therapist can partner with you in building a healthier psyche.
There is value in exploring how we handle this gap. We all have a gap, we might underestimate the task or unclearly evaluate our own preparedness or some combination of both. It is important to remember that change is an inherently creative process. In order to be skilled at making change, we need to foster this creativity. If we find we are falling short of a goal, and we engage in a lot of self-criticism, insulting ourselves, using internal language like “failure” and “I always mess up” then we can tumble into a heap, feeling a sense of futility. Without resilience, if we listen to this inner-critic voice, we might fall into low self-worth and maybe even shame and in this way we shut down the creative process.
What we need in ‘the gap’ is the voice of a strong inner coach that is willing to shake off any disappointment and have another go. Instead of a harshly self-critical approach, it is more helpful to engage with a curious, objective look at the situation, “what went wrong here? I wonder why that did not work?”. From this approach, we can get a much more accurate view of things. Failure is an event, NOT a person. When things ‘fail’ – they do not meet our expectations, then this is an opportunity to re-engineer our plans.
In truth, if we are really committed to personal growth, we will do well to become more comfortable in ‘the gap’. In the land of self-improvement, there really is not an ultimate destination unless we decide it so. For example, we may work on communication skills and really make big headway, only to find ourselves at a family reunion and realise we struggle to express clearly in that setting (there is a reason we find those sit-coms about Thanksgiving dinners so relatable). Or perhaps asking for a raise in our place of work is the space where we stumble at communicating. There is always more personal growth to enjoy.
As fast as we reach the top of the mountain, the clouds part and we realise this is just another summit, and there is even more that we can be. This can be a wonderfully inspiring way to live life. In the gap between potential and reality, nurture the creative process with a wise internal coach.