Tuesday, January 11, 2011

Staying the Course

I’m always amazed by the dizzying array of self-help books available for almost anything you can think of, but they seem to be promoted with peculiar urgency at the start of the year. I was in a bookstore the other day, and there were tables reserved for books with titles such as:

Excuses Begone!: How to Change Lifelong, Self-Defeating Thinking Habits

Change Your Brain, Change Your Body

The Worry Solution: Using Breakthrough Brain Science to Turn Stress and Anxiety into Confidence and Happiness


Emotional Freedom: Liberate Yourself from Negative Emotions and Transform Your Life

Love For No Reason: 7 Steps to Creating a Life of Unconditional Love

Lose 10 Pounds in 2 Weeks!

Best You Ever: 365 Ways to be Richer, Happier, Thinner, Smarter, Younger, Sexier, and more Relaxed – Each and Every Day

A pretty optimistic bunch! The common theme, of course, is change: self-improvement – even “transformation” – and the promise of a richer, happier, sexier, and more relaxed life. And they make it sound so simple.

But as we continue the process of looking inward and understanding ourselves more deeply – through meditation, psychotherapy, an exercise program, a yoga practice, etc. – we know that “change” is not often immediate, nor can it be broken down into seven easy steps or two weeks or 365 ways. I know there are books out there that encourage readers to remain mindful, patient with themselves, and to “stay the course” – I only wish such titles were more prominently displayed along with those that promise easy weight loss or sudden confidence.

Real change usually involves some time, experience, setbacks, and a continuous evaluation of behaviors and/or commitment to change. My hope for the New Year is that we allow ourselves time and space to move through our individual processes without frantic expectations or deadlines. Fully and mindfully engaging in the process of change is more rewarding than any “quick fix,” I think.

Luna Sung

Luna is a current intern at The Awakening Center and co-leads a Woman's Body Image group on Tuesday afternoons from 2:30-4pm. She can be reached at (773)929-6262 x 12 for more information.


  1. Linda R Winter, JD, MA, LCPCJanuary 12, 2011 at 1:35 PM

    I often debate how to respond to clients when they ask, "How long will it take to change . . . ." The process of change, and the necessary precursors of awareness and practice, just take time and intention. I try to balance the desire to not discourage clients with the need to be realistic and honest in my response.
    Thanks Luna for addressing this topic with realism and a light touch.

  2. I guess this is a way therapy is like politics -- those promises of quick, easy and beneficial change never turn out to be true!

  3. Luna - your article reminds me of a comment a client made in session a while ago: "Real Change is slow. Only weeds grow fast!"
    If only we could have patience for how long real change takes!
    Amy Grabowski