The right change at the right time

Susan Tesch, MS, LMFT | Psychotherapy & Counseling

Susan Tesch, MS, LMFT | Psychotherapy & Counseling

The Right Change at the Right Time

For over a year, I've been thinking of redoing my website. At last, that with the help of an excellent designer, Lila Hurwitz at Doolittle+Bird, I've finally done it! Lila pushed me to think in new ways about how I practice and suggested I come up with a tagline that expresses something about my philosophy as a therapist. I came up with "The Right Change at the Right Time" because as a therapist I try to make change feel appealing, rather than threatening, and I do think my job is to help people make changes that truly feel right and bring about a better quality of life.

 

But most people don’t really want to change! And it’s not just people who don’t want to change; in the world of physics, matter itself doesn't "want" to change…unless a force acts upon it. That property of matter (and people!)  is called “inertia.” For me, my web designer was the force acting upon me to help me redo my website. She helped me overcome my inertia and get my website going in a new direction. Now that it is done, I can let some inertia settle in, but I will have to be my own force for overcoming my own inertia by adding new blogs, going forward. It will take work!

Thoughts After Neurobiology Conference in New York

In October I attended a neurobiology conference that focused on “Attachment.” Neuroscience has shown that a human’s brain, which controls the central nervous system and therefore the entire body, depends upon good, emotionally-responsive human connection in order to develop and thrive. When our deep relationships go haywire, we go haywire. Establishing emotional connection between myself and a client is at the heart of how I work. It comes from years of training as well as an instinctual sense that what people really want is to be understood by another person who cares.

Shortly after I returned from my trip, I stumbled upon a news article about recently-developed androids that are being created to be as human-like as possible. Their “skin” is flexible, they can smile, they blink intermittently, make jokes, etc. Their inventors hope that eventually, these androids can learn new algorithms from human interactions, and communicate these algorithms to other androids through the cloud. The hope is that androids will surpass humans in their sophistication, intelligence, and even compassion!!

Now, of course, I’m impressed by the ingenuity that leads to technological advances, but—sheesh! Everything I hold dear in my heart has to do with emotional connection in relationships. Emotional connection requires animal instincts, which is why I can’t get excited about a world in which my human instincts are forced to look into the “eyes” of an android and interact as if that android were really human. It never will be, in my humble opinion. But I’m pretty sure I’ll have no choice but to interact with androids. Here we go…

Still, I’ll be a “little warrior” for establishing emotional connection based in human (and animal!) instincts so long as I’m here. While relationships hurt more than anything else in life when the go awry, they also bring the most reward. It’s a gamble I’m willing to make each time I try to make contact with another instinctual being.

Showing Up

Woody Allen once said that “Showing up is 80% of life.”

Feel free to take exception with Allen’s choice of sex partners, as I do, but I can’t help but admire this statement. What does it even mean? It sounds easy at first, like all you have to do is show up and not even lift a finger after that.

But actually, showing up consistently is really hard. How many times have I woken up after a horrible night’s sleep, maybe due to some disagreement with my husband or maybe because I’m in a panic about a loved one’s medical issues. Or maybe it’s because I’m overly anxious about a song I’ve written that I’m going to play at a recital or for critique. Regardless of the reason, some mornings I feel like a hot mess and don’t want to show my face to the world; I don’t want to show up. But I do, and I’m always glad I did; it makes me feel better to have shown my fraught little face to the world and not run away from my day’s commitments. It makes me feel proud of myself, rather than still more ashamed and more avoidant.

When in doubt, show up. It gets easier over time.