The right change at the right time

Susan Tesch, MS, LMFT | Psychotherapy & Counseling

Susan Tesch, MS, LMFT | Psychotherapy & Counseling

Inspiration v. Perspiration

Well, my turning point has been profitable. Here are the follow-up thoughts after my last post:

Thomas Edison famously said "Genius is one percent inspiration and ninety-nine percent perspiration." I don't know if these are the exact proportions, but I do think a lot of endeavors--not just genius--require much more perspiration than inspiration.

As I mentioned in my last post, music is one of my passions. But up until recently my relationship with music had been more about "inspiration" than "perspiration." I didn't grow up making music; I listened to music on the radio and bought records and sang along. It was inspiring! With a simple press of a button or two, I could hear any sort of music I was in the mood for. And the music was usually beautiful. "One day" I thought I'd make beautiful music too, but I didn't connect the dots as to exactly how that would happen; I just dreamed.

Now that I'm doing it, I know how to develop music skills: work really hard, i.e., "perspire." It turns out that it's not sexy business to practice scales and learn new pieces or compose new pieces! It's nothing like listening to one of my favorite songs, which is all pleasure! But this hard work is surprisingly more fulfilling than I ever could have known, even if I'm not that great as yet. Developing better fluency and an ability to express myself through music is a dream come true--but it's a reality-based dream! And that's a very different dream from my fantasy-dreams. I couldn't have described this to my past self. My past self wouldn't have understood even if I tried.

This feels exactly like therapy. Once clients begin to really develop emotionally and psychologically, they "get it" about what we're working for in session, and it becomes extremely fulfilling. But it takes a while to get there. Until then, they can only "dream" about "happiness" as they grill me about why they would want to slog through their pain in therapy. I try to sell to them on the advantages of personal growth through making emotional connects, and blah-blah-blah, but they don't really get it until it starts working. Some clients become angry by even the second or third session because they haven't totally transformed and they are impatient to get to the "happy" part of their life. I understand.

"Fulfillment" is a word you don't hear thrown around very much. You hear other mental-health words thrown around, like "happiness," or "self-esteem," but these words don't speak to the importance of working for something. I think the greatest feelings of fulfillment come from working at something (perspiring) and having some real-world success. 

After feeling down, Music is alive again for me, but in less glitzy way than I imagined it would be. It's just a ton of work. How fulfilling that work turns out to be!