Many times a week I have clients sitting in front of me, fully motivated, researching every aspect of their situation, trying new ideas, learning from what has worked, what hasn’t, and taking new steps to keep trying. Other clients are not so motivated. They look at me and ask me to please tell them what to do. We come up with different plans to change their experience, but they continue to do the same thing they are doing every week. They come in weekly to complain how it hasn’t worked and how stuck they really are. One client is not better than the other. Yes, one is more successful in treatment, but that is due to a lot of factors. Mainly, how motivated are they to try?
Today this thought came to me when I was at the post office at the self-service package kiosk. It is a Sunday, and nobody is working at the post office. This will be important to note later. New machines have been placed in the post office this week. The old machines have a back guard on which you could throw keys, your wallet, etc. while weighing your item. I thought this model should be the same and carelessly threw my keys and my wallet above the kiosk while I weighed my package. To my dismay, I heard a loud thud. I got on my tippy toes to look over the kiosk wall to see my keys and wallet on the floor behind this solid machine with a full guard around the bottom, securely stapled to the floor. A nice lady came by and asked me if I wanted to use her phone so I could call someone. That would be a nice idea if I knew someone’s number by heart other than my husband’s, who is currently deployed to Africa. I started to feel a bit of panic. The lady left, saying she would try to find a grabbing device to help me. That was very kind of her, but I was not sure if I would ever see her again. I was far from home, had no keys, no wallet, no phone, and no way of reaching the items on the floor. I also had a 5 pm appointment, and it was 4:30 pm. We could say the story ends there, me crying on the floor until Monday morning when the postman rescues me by unlocking this machine from the floor and securing my items! However, this did not seem a viable option to me. I started by looking in the trash and finding an old umbrella. I twisted it all shorts of ways, as I climbed on top of the machine, moaning and groaning and reaching for my items. I had no luck. Then I grabbed a folded up cardboard box. I twisted it behind the machine, trying to get it under my keys, but no luck. At this point I was sweating. I was starting to feel desperate. I was 100% motivated to get my keys and my wallet, although the task seemed impossible. I went outside and started surveying the foliage. Then, I saw a nice shaped stick. I grabbed it and ran back inside. I pocked and prodded and pulled and shoved the stick behind the machine. Over and over again the keys came up on the stick and then fell, but I would not give up. I continued in this manner for a good 10 minutes and finally was able to get the keys. With newfound hope, I confidently went for the wallet, and to my surprise, it was easier to get than the keys! It was now 4:55 pm! I had just enough time to get to my appointment down the road. The woman, who had gone to get something to help, came back at the point when I was just getting the wallet up the side of the machine with the stick. I quickly said: “I got this!” I was so proud of myself at this point. I had secured both my keys and my wallet with five minutes to spare to get to my appointment. This was much better than sleeping in a post office all night!
I tell this story as an example of how motivation can make or break success. It is easier to give up when we know we have someone to bail us out, or there is an option to continue in our misery. If we feel there is no option but to change, we are often much quicker to reach a goal. I did not see an option to give up. So, I continued to use every resource I could find to come to a solution. Therapy can be much like this. Are you willing to look for the “umbrellas and sticks” to solve the problems? If they don’t work, will you keep digging through the “trash and foliage” to find something that does? Well, that depends on how much you have to lose or gain in the process.