It Doesn’t Matter How Long It Takes

When we are striving for some outcome that we want, sometimes we lose motivation because we think it will take too long. I usually tell people that time will pass anyway so you might as well go after what you want. Whether it is a graduate degree or training for a race or learning a language, two years is going to pass anyway. You might as well build what you want to build. Embark on the ambitious goals. They are the ones worth doing. Plus, if you make effort, you grow, whether it is physical effort, mental effort or emotional effort. You will grow in the domains where you are willing to make effort. More effort, more growth. Up to a point, of course.

And this same rule applies in relationships. If you are engaging with someone you care about and have a commitment to, it does not matter how long it takes for that person to feel better. If your person is struggling with life, wallowing in a valley of despair, engaging in self destructive or isolating behaviors, it just does not matter how long it takes that person to get traction and get out of the depths. Since you are committed for the long term, you are just going to be there. No matter what.

To the extent that we tell ourselves that he or she ought to be better by now; ought to be trying harder; ought to take some responsibility; and so on, we are making it harder for ourselves on the journey. The magical trick in relationships is the simple admonition: “Be With.” Just be with that person in whatever puddle he or she finds him or herself in.

Alternatively, when we take on the emotions and problems of that other person, the relationship becomes about us and our reactions. We have difficulty tolerating the feelings that we osmose from the other person. This also interferes with genuine relating and it robs the other person of ownership of his or her experience.

When we tell ourselves we are exhausted, we can’t stand it, we are being exploited, used, and disrespected, we simply make it more unpleasant for ourselves to be with that person. When we can respect the integrity of that person, when we can allow the other person’s journey to unfold as it does, when we can appreciate that the gift is the ability to be a part of that person’s life, we can return to the inherent joy in the word “together.”

About norasblog

I am a psychotherapist with a private practice in downtown Chicago.
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