On familiarity

A client recently told me "I'm in danger of having two good weeks in a row." I quote this (with his permission) because it says so much to me about the weirdness of therapy and our ambivalence about making things better. If you are my client, you've heard me say that even good changes can feel odd. In past work with client's who feel terminally unlucky in relationships, I've often seen this as depression sets in as soon as they find a partner. Addicts speak about the "comfort of discomfort." All of this is because doing something new is scary for us. We have a hard time reconciling the fact that we would prefer to keep doing the same stuff and thinking the same ways even when we feel unsatisfied. And accepting goodness feels too different, or dangerous. It requires openness- our own openness to the possibility of life being different than it has been in the past. Therapy can help with this, in the same way that physical therapy can help open up our muscles. But it's not always easy to take that step and I'm always impressed when someone reaches out for help in order to find something new that is good but dangerous.