When Some Things Can’t be Changed
When we think of counselling or psychotherapy, we think of things that we would like to change about ourselves; we wonder how we might be different after these changes. But some things can't be changed; is there any point to psychotherapy in those circumstances?
The things we can't change
We are born or find ourselves in circumstances that cannot be changed. For example, our physical characteristics and our genetics are things we are obviously not able to change. Additionally, we are not able to change our past either; the things that happened, happened, and there is nothing that anyone is able to do to change that.
Further, even the day-to-day circumstances of our life such as our economic position are very difficult to change for most people. And there are even some aspects of our personality – our temperament – that remain essentially intact throughout our life. So what can be done?
The things we can change
Some of these unchangeable aspects of ourselves don’t bother us – but others do. For those things, the key thing that we can change is the meaning we make from our circumstances and the way that we are affected. It is natural that we would feel that we have been unlucky or hard done by and badly affected by fate and the actions of other people.
We can try and pretend that we don’t care and it doesn’t make a difference, or to feel that we are selfish wanting more than we have, but there is a cost to both of these paths. Left alone, these feelings can lead to bitterness and resentment, souring our appreciation of the things that we do have.
Mourning our losses because some things can't be changed
Ultimately, we need to mourn these losses, even if they were only ever potentials. If your parents were not as caring as they could have been, you mourn the loss of a life with good parents. If you have been injured or born with limited capabilities, you mourn the loss of a healthy body. Each one of these represents a life we feel we could have lived, if only some things were different.
A psychotherapist like me can help you mourn what has been denied you, without trying to cheer you up or minimise the significance of these losses, and through this process, help you accept what you have.
Tell me what you think in the comments.
– Tim Hill
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