Five hundred. … 500 fights, that’s the number I figured when I was a kid. 500 street fights and you could consider yourself a legitimate tough guy. You need them for experience. To develop leather skin. So I got started. Of course along the way you stop thinking about being tough and all that. It stops being the point. You get past the silliness of it all. But then, after, you realize that’s what you are.
Taylor Reese (Vin Diesel) Knockaround Guys
It takes time to be good at anything of value. Working on my black belt, a few years ago, it became apparent that I was going to have to practice, practice, practice. Sure I could have bought one on the internet for twenty bucks, but somehow that just wasn’t the same. The sense of accomplishment, the joy of achievement, cannot be purchased for a few dollars. Recently I decided to work on my PhD in Psychology and, looking at the requirements, was immediately intimidated by the process. Again, for a few dollars I could lie about the accomplishment and get one online, but again…
Growth, real growth, takes time and pain. There are lessons you can only learn in battle, being shot at. The lessons I have learned have usually come through struggle and sweat, and sometimes tears.
I often write about the reasons why counseling usually doesn’t work. In case you haven’t read any of these posts it boils down to the fact that counseling is really hard, change is super tough, and it takes practice.
It takes a ton of practice.
I am fond of telling clients information that they already know, but have never practiced. As I find myself constantly saying, “I have seven years of post-secondary education so that I can tell you stuff that you can Google.” It’s true. Going to a counselor is usually an exercise in the obvious. I hope I have a few insights that my clients haven’t thought of, but most counseling tips are obvious – learn to live in the moment (mindfulness), practice stopping your racing thoughts, understand the systems that are shaping you, attack your cognitive distortions… that kind of stuff.
Most of you know this stuff. You could teach this stuff. The issue isn’t knowledge, the issue is practice.
It takes hundreds and hundreds of attempts before most of the concepts you learn in counseling “kick in”. Often people will come see me for a few months and realize that nothing has really changed. They become frustrated by the lack of movement, in spite of their hours of showing up. It is hard to understand, when you are frustrated and hurting, that you may be just on the cusp of something amazing, something that is in the process of happening. When you are in the midst of the battle it’s hard to see anything but bullets.
Counseling works. Don’t ask me why, but it does. I’ve seen it transform seemingly impossible situations. I’ve witnessed people who had all but given up find hope and healing. The problem is, it’s slow. It has taken years to get where you are and it may take years to dig yourself out. That’s the real truth, no sugar added.
Don’t give up. You have only one precious life and no one else is going to fix it for you. You know that. I know that.
So I got started.