Existential Psychology

Use Your Newfound Insight To Change The Practice Of Your Life

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A lasting effect of the psychoanalytic tradition on the common understanding of how therapy works is that increasing insight leads to cure. The idea in psychoanalysis was that bringing unconscious drives, motivations, and other hidden material into conscious awareness was the endgame, the way to eradicate neurosis.

The problem though, and the various therapeutic paradigms have all borne this is out, is that insight on its own is not enough to effect positive change. Who cares if you become aware that your situation sucks, if you can perfectly explain all the reasons your situation sucks if, absolutely nothing about that concrete situation?

We can think of increased insight as the first important step away from dysfunction and towards health. But if you don’t use that insight to change the practice of your life then it’s all for nothing. Because what really matters is not just that you know why things aren’t working for you but that you do something to make them start working for you.

Entrenched patterns of thinking. feeling, and behaving are extremely hard for all of us to break. Even when we don’t particularly like these patterns we are quite comfortable with them. We can think of the process of growth and change as a protracted tug of war between increased insight and entrenched patterns of behavior where the deciding factor is your active intention to try on new forms of thinking, feeling, and behaving despite the anxiety and other perceived aversive consequences of leaving behind what you’ve always known and are intimately familiar with. The unknown is always scary, there’s always risk there, even when the perceived benefits of change far outweigh the deficiencies of the current state of affairs.