322 Stephenson Avenue, Ste B
Savannah, GA 31405
Why do some people make necessary changes in their lives while others seem unable? That question may not be quite as complicated as it first seems. Of course everyone who decides to make a change does so for different reasons, so it is complicated, but there is also one commonality among efforts at change. Generally speaking, people make the changes they make when their lives get significantly out of balance.
So, what is balance, and what is change? First of all, it must be said, not just any balance is necessarily healthy balance. In fact, everyone’s life is in some kind of balance, but sometimes that balance includes extreme behavior that is needed to counterbalance or compensate for other feelings or for relationships that throw one off balance. A person might work obsessively because he feels the need to amass wealth which, in turn, makes him feel adequate where once he felt inferior. Another person might work obsessively because she cannot stand to be at home where her relationships are extremely stressful and her time seems not her own. While one person might use drugs to help her forget how badly she has treated her children, another might use drugs to make her feel glamorous or confident. Clearly, although balance is a part of all these examples, balance is not necessarily healthy.
Perhaps an easy definition of psychological balance would be: any set of circumstances and attitudes that make it possible to continue on in life without making a psychological change. When an unhealthy balance reaches a precarious state then, or when it causes some kind of extreme emotional discomfort, either a person changes intentionally or circumstances lead to changes independent of choice. In that way, psychological "change" is defined, to a certain extent, by balance. Psychological change occurs when things get out of psychological balance because balance of some kind must always be restored, healthy or not.
Real psychological change can involve leaving a particular situation or doing things in a notably novel manner. For example, in a marriage both partners get into certain patterns of their own to which the other person responds in his or her own unique way. Sometimes one person feels she has done all the accommodating while the other has always had his way. Often relationships work very well when they appear to be one-sided. The trick to understanding a relationship that works well in such circumstances is in understanding that the accommodating person actually balances herself through her accommodating behavior. That sounds kind of strange, doesn't it? But it happens. The wife in this couple might, for example, feel a need to be charitable to all others due to guilt that she experiences when others give to her. It is possible that she was taught as a child to refrain from asking for anything, or she could have been given so much that she feels overly spoiled.
Unfortunately, there can be a problem when such complementary behavior also leads to some kind of resentment that has no outlet. Our hypothetical woman from the example above gives and gives, just as she has always been taught to give, but something is amiss. Whereas in her childhood there was possibly relief for not being ridiculed or blamed, or perhaps praise for being so selfless, now as an adult this altruistic trait has little utility within a relationship of equals. Perhaps it even results in ridicule or blame, and praise or appreciation are rarely offered. Thus, resentment builds. It builds and it builds, and the resentment has no outlet, and BLAM, a sudden change is necessary to alleviate long-lasting and long-developing difficulties. That change could be therapy, either for the couple or for either of the individuals involved, or alternately, typical sudden changes include leaving, divorcing, disappearing, etc... Any kind of change, even far less drastic changes than these, leads to a new kind of balance for everyone involved.
In such tough situations, it is unfortunately very common that things come to a boiling point where the only solution appears to be extricating oneself from the cauldron-like relationship. Changing patterns in relating, however, is far more possible than people often think, can lead to changes in balance, and can allow for continuation of healthier states of being.
Copyright 2010 Daniel A. Bochner, Ph.D. All rights reserved. Material provided on this web site is for educational and/or informational purposes only. This web site does not offer either online services or medical advice. No therapeutic relationship is established by use of this site.
322 Stephenson Avenue, Ste B
Savannah, GA 31405