In Praise of Slowness

No, I’m not writing a send-up of the Slow Movement or the book that exemplifies the movement’s principles, although what I’m writing about fits that movement well.

I am inviting you, dear reader, to slow down your self-improvement efforts so you can catch up with them and let them integrate within you. I am inviting you to accept how long it takes to make real change in a healthy direction. As the cliché says, “It took you (your age here) years for you to get this way, …” You know the rest.

Two current therapy treatment models (as well as the managed care movement) pressure therapists into providing quick fixes to those who allegedly want them. The “brief therapy” model attempts to crunch down useful work into just a very few sessions. The “medical” model leads patients (I call people I work with “clients,” but “patient” fits the medical model better) to expect they will leave a therapist’s office with a “prescription” that will cure all their ills.

For a very few persons, either clients or therapists, these models work well enough. Well enough, that is, to get them through until the next crisis happens (he said cynically). Somehow the phrase, “Pay me now or pay me later” comes to mind. Further, these models fit both the “time is money” and the immediate gratification values our society has adopted and that have led us to greater and greater emotional problems.

Contrary to these models, I favor a process that lets things happen as they happen, whether it takes a short time or long time. If possible (financially, schedule-wise, and otherwise), I recommend that you take your time and, as a mentor of mine once said, “tai chi” your way through life, moving slowly, deliberately, and mindfully in accord with the natural flow of your life.

This same mentor also recommended a lifestyle metaphor based on the life story of Jill Bolte Taylor, a Harvard brain scientist who took eight years to fully recover from a severe stroke. My mentor recommended taking “eight years” (or however long it takes) to fully recover from whatever gets in one’s way of living a fully-conscious, self-accepting life.

The relatively recent discovery of brain plasticity (the fact that our brains change over time, even as adults) also suggests that we need to be (or have to be) patient with our self-development progress. While our brains do change, they change slowly when we reach adulthood (25 and older). The therapy process and other self-development processes result in the rewiring of our brains, a slow but steady process. (More on this here.)

I recently began living the slowness metaphors for myself and, like a good diet plan, they have provided a fresh, healthy, and lively way of life resulting in slow, yet very steady progress that feels like it will stick. I’m really liking it!

How does that sound to you?

Copyright 2013 Daniel J. Metevier

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