I get excited when clients make breakthroughs. They are also really excited, and so we both feel terrific. This week, a client pointed out that not every session contains a breakthrough. “That’s true,” I admitted. It got me thinking about the importance of having a breakthrough- a sudden “click” or an “ah-ha” moment. Should I be trying to get people to have one at every session?
As motivating and energizing as a sudden advancement in knowledge or awareness can be, a breakthrough is just one aspect of therapy. That is the answer that came to me in the place where I have most of my breakthroughs: the gym. Having come off yet another small winter illness, it felt like a feat just to show up. That was my breakthrough. Just showing up is the real work of any long-term commitment whether it be marriage, parenthood, self-improvement, pursuits in fitness, or therapy. Consistent attention, awareness, and action on the things that matter is what really drives the change process.
Of course we want the quick-fix, the get rich quick, the headline news, the Cliff Notes, and the made for TV version of reality. That’s why we want to go to therapy and just have breakthrough after breakthrough. But breakthroughs are nothing without follow-through. It might not be as glamorous, but hard work still matters. The effort of paying attention so that we can break old habits to create new possibilities is worthwhile.