Have you ever wondered why some things get worse before they get better? Take, for example, deciding that you’re going to get professional counseling to work on a potentially problematic behavior, like anxiety, and just when you commit to change, you notice that every little thing seems to make you more anxious and stressed out. Maybe you decide to work on your temper, and when you start to pay attention to how often you’re mad, you seem to become angrier. If you experience an increase in the behaviors you’re trying to fix, you may decide to quit counseling because it isn’t working. But wait! Before throwing in the towel, it’s important to know that what you are experiencing, feeling worse before feeling better, is entirely normal.
Although getting worse before getting better isn’t a steadfast rule, it does happen to a lot of people a lot of the time. As with many things in life, when we decide that we want to improve ourselves, we undergo a series of changes. The first change involves admitting to ourselves that there is a problem. As a whole, it’s not easy to point out our flaws, and we sure don’t like changing them. Acknowledging there is an issue is the first step, but that alone is not going to make a difference. No, we have to explore what’s going on, and this reflective process is known as self-awareness.
Self-awareness requires us to place our issues under a microscope and scrutinize each little detail. As one could imagine, this is an experience that can set off a tidal wave of emotions, including shame, fear, anger, and even pain. As a result, we may become more aware of what we need to change and start to notice how much our little nuance is affecting us. We may even become consumed or super sensitive with the very behavior that we are trying to work on, resulting in us experiencing it more frequently. That’s why it feels worse but never fear; if you stick with a commitment to change, these intensified behaviors should subside within a short amount of time. When you feel more in control, a door of endless possibilities will begin to open.
When that door opens, we may realize that we can’t tackle our issues alone. Unfortunately, many people go into counseling looking for a quick fix, but truthfully that’s not how it works. Odds are we didn’t get to where we are overnight, and it’s sure not going to be fixed that quickly either. Counseling involves a lot of self-reflection and commitment to change, and frankly, that’s not fun. It also requires that we visit places of shame, hurt, and pain in our lives, and honestly, that doesn’t feel good.
So, just know that if you commit to a change, you may feel a little worse before you feel a little better, and that’s A-OK. Stick with your plan, and watch change happen from the inside out!