Life is fast. In our digital culture we respond to the now. Technology is with us instantaneously: emails, tweets and texts at our desks, on the move, in our hand, handbag or pocket.
In our disposable society things are not built to last. Guarantees e.g. on white goods are generally one year only – much like the length of some marriages these days: a quickie can lead to a fast relationship, and quickie divorce.
Our attention spans are decreasing, the optimum word length for a blog post is 300, preferably with bullets and/or top tips and we are becoming adept at multitasking: online shopping or checking our emails whilst watching a movie.
There is an increasing culture of working hard, playing hard, achieving and self-improvement. Even mindfulness meditation (the practice focussing on calming down and being present) is chunked down to acceptable/digestible 3 to 10 minute meditation chunks.
So where is it all leading? To a frantic anxiety-ridden society where one is constantly chasing one’s own tail? Or to mid life, ie 30s(!) burnout? Or to giving up and giving in? Perhaps joining an off-grid alternative community and disengaging from society at large?
Counselling and therapies are also caught up in the zeitgeist. Many people are looking for a short term fix. Perhaps a 6 week CBT approach with tasks and homework and measurable short term goals to achieve. And this definitely works for some.
However short term interventions allow little scope for in-depth work and creativity. Long term counseling and/or psychotherapy allows time to think and feel and gives space to reflect and play.
The therapeutic relationship (between the therapist and the patient or client) takes time to establish. Trust takes time to build – long term therapy requires us to open up and be honest and look at the areas of our life we find difficult. It is not for the faint-hearted. It takes courage to establish a connection with a therapist. Done authentically it is a subtle process, in which we both, patient and therapist gradually evolve.
In time we begin to notice we are changing in our awareness of what’s going. Then, as if by magic, we begin to notice we are changing in our interactions with others eg we may begin to stand up for ourself more or disagree with someone more easily or begin to put boundaries in relationships we would not have been able to do previously.
It takes time for these new understandings and perspectives to become real for us.
Permanent change takes time to be internalised and become our new improved way of being.
I was inspired for this blog post by a fascinating TED talk by Ari Wallach on the subject of taking the long term view. Check it out here: https://www.ted.com/talks/ari_wallach_3_ways_to_plan_for_the_very_long_term