Traditional psychotherapy is comforting to both the client and the therapist, but by itself it very rarely, in our experience, empowers people to effectively alter their lives. Understanding your problems is useful, but in itself it doesn’t create change. Most people develop habitual ways of thinking and behaving that control us just like we are driving through ruts on an icy road. We can know the ruts are there and even understand how they were created, but that understanding doesn’t help us drive a straight line. As smart as we are, we still watch ourselves drive into the same ruts time after time, and, when we get stuck again, we feel trapped and unable to steer out of those deeply hewn grooves.
Once we went to a woman’s house where we had arranged to board our dog for a few days. When we got there, the stench of cat urine was overpowering. It was incredibly vile. We were choking. We could not imagine how anyone could stay in that environment for more than a few seconds.
The woman smiled and invited us in. It was obvious that, for her, nothing was out of the ordinary. She not only didn’t have a problem with the stench, she didn’t seem to know it was there. She had several cats. We never found out how many. She petted one idly as we spoke. We made excuses and left.