There are No Quick Fixes for Long Term Problems

It’s automatic, for many of us, to want a “quick fix” for a problem. Unfortunately, our long term problems are usually embedded in layers of complicated issues. So…..sadly….there’s rarely a remedy that’s “quick”. There are no pills you can take, or advice that you can follow that is brief and that truly solves your problem.

People often initiate therapy with the mindset that one or two sessions will solve a problem that has developed over many months or even years. This is just not possible. However, it is possible and probable that you can solve a long term problem within an indefinite time frame. This can be achieved with an unlimited commitment to work, and by surrendering to resistance. One we let go of our lack of tolerance and lack of patience, we greatly increase our ability to effectively solve a problem. In most cases, integrating an indefinite number of therapy sessions will ease this process along.

With or without therapy, it will still be a process. So then what, we just suck it up and endure the process? Well, quite frankly….yes. However, there are some things you can do to shift your attitude and perspective. In order to solve a problem, you have to be ready to solve the problem. Being ready requires a cooperative attitude and a motivated perspective toward change. Here is a list for self inquiry and reflection that may be helpful in getting you READY:

>>Be realistic and sincere with your intentions and expectations. Only you can truly know if you are doing this. For example, if the problem you are trying to solve involves another person, you need to be sincere about and realistic of what you are asking of them and/or what you are trying to do for them. Don’t make promises or commitments that you can’t keep nor make requests of others in which they do not have the skills or capacity to fulfill.

>>Set the minimum. Establish your minimum for what you need toward progress or definitive results. For example: “This is the minimum I need to know that things will change or improve…..” Take your time to establish this to be as sure as possible that this will make a difference for you.

>>Describe the change that you need to see/hear/feel. Establish how you will know when the problem is solved. How do you expect to feel? What will it look like when the problem is solved? What might you need to hear in order for the problem to be solved? Answering one or all of these questions will bring you to a more well-defined solution. The more well-defined the solution, the more probable and possible for it to be achieved.

>>Hold self and others accountable. Adopt the mindset that “IT IS NOT OKAY FOR THIS PROBLEM TO CONTINUE.” Identify what will happen if you don’t implement change. Be honest with yourself and others involved about what the repercussions or consequences are if the problem goes unsolved. Let what you don’t want to happen be a motivator for following through with action.

>>Avoid blind optimism. Optimism is good….but….the problem WILL NOT FIX ITSELF!!! Letting time pass or adding something to the problem that is unrelated, will not fix it either. Research shows that couples often decide to have a child when they are having problems, in the hopes that it will bring them closer or somehow solve their problem. Individuals often decide to make large purchases, go on vacations, or engage in new relationships when they are working through a hard time in their lives. None of these things solve problems.

>>Don’t trick yourself into a temporary remedy that is not a long term solution. Once you decide what your minimum is, don’t rationalize or intellectualize another option. Trust your heart and trust your gut for what you truly believe will solve your problem. The only exception to this is compromising with another person who is involved in the problem. If a compromise is the best option for everyone, then it’s probably a better solution.

>>Engage and enlist others. Don’t try to do it all on your own. Whether you hire a therapist or a coach, or merely round up your support network, it’s usually more effective to involve others who have your best interest at heart. You can go the self-help route as well, but do your research. Talk to experts, and stay committed to and consistent with your approach.

If you are unable to follow all or most of these suggestions, then maybe you are not ready to solve the problem that frequently brings disruption, unhappiness or complication to your life. Perhaps more suffering will bring you closer to being ready. No one wants you to suffer, but if that will bring you closer to a true solution, then that may be what you will do for a while longer. On the other hand, if you are ready, you will probably no longer be focused on a “quick fix”, but rather a well-defined solution that addresses all the layers of the problem.

Why Should You See a Therapist?

Many people contemplate seeing a therapist for weeks, months or even years before they actually decide to contact someone or eventually talk themselves out of it. In some cases, there is a stigma associated with seeing a therapist which categorizes one as weak, ill, or unstable. I have heard people rationalize that they don’t need therapy because “they have a good support system,” or “they find therapy through other means.” I applaud people who have these things and are insightful enough to seek support from friends and family and manage their emotions effectively. Some people can manage life and it’s challenges effectively without therapy. But some people need outside help and aren’t afraid or ashamed to see a therapist. I will candidly say that, “I don’t think that therapy is for everyone.” With that said, here are some reasons for and benefits of seeing a therapist:

Reasons for:

  • You don’t have a support system or someone to talk to that will actually listen.
  • You have one or more things about your life or your behavior that you want to change, but haven’t.
  • You are unhappy in your relationship(s).
  • You have guilt, shame, or emotional wounds from the past.
  • You have a hard time getting along with others.
  • You are moody, but are unsure why.
  • You have a hard time managing stress and/or your emotions.
  • People have difficulty understanding you and/or you have difficulty relaying thoughts/feelings.
  • You know your life could be better, but aren’t sure where to start.

Benefits of:

  • You can work out problems with an unbiased party.
  • You can vent without damaging relationships with friends/family.
  • Gain new and/or better understanding of your individual/family/relational patterns.
  • Gain insightful information, education on specific topics, and referrals to other resources.
  • Therapy is a safe place that is always private and confidential.

When you make that first contact to initiate therapy, be sure to ask questions to allow yourself to be as informed as possible. Most therapists are glad to answer general questions. You also want to take the time to find a therapist that you feel adequately matched with and a good therapist will want to ensure this as well, even if that means referring you to someone else.