Results May Vary…
I hope you have some fun plans this weekend along with some time for rest and play.
Tomorrow, I am driving to Julian, just outside of San Diego, to speak at a women’s retreat for graduating seniors from Point Loma Nazarene University.
The theme of the weekend – which I love – is Results May Vary and the organizers of this retreat invited speakers from different seasons of life to share about their varied lives post college.
I am not sure how my 22 year-old self would appreciate a retreat like this. I was so focused on results, certainty, bottom line, goals and my career.
Perspective was not my strength at the time. It still can be a struggle when I get in the certainty zone.
And when my expected results varied during my twenties- personally and professionally – life felt like it was turned upside down. Learning about heartbreak, disappointment, patience, faith, friendship and the fragility of life went against “the plan” – but uncertainty, love and adversity brought me out of my comfort zone and began to teach me what it meant to live a life of courage.
Because I was living a life of shoulds based on what it seemed everyone was supposed to do, it took some intense curve balls to wake me up to the beauty of uncertainty and the varied results of living a brave life less focused on the opinions others + external measures and more reflective on integrity, value and trust.
Telling someone, “Results may vary.” is not the best confidence-builder – but it is honest feedback and helps check expectations that may fuel worry, fear of missing out and rash decisions.
Our brains are hardwired for certainty and safety, so it makes sense there is a pull towards this homeostasis.
Even in my work as a psychotherapist, I get asked:
- How long will I have to be in therapy?
- Will I stop struggling with ____ after working with you?
- How do I know this will work?
- Will it be worth the investment of time and resources?
- Why can’t I figure this out on my own?
- Can talking with my friends be just as effective as therapy?
- Why does therapy not seem to help some people?
Results. May. Vary.
Results vary because everyone has a different story, temperament, brain chemistry, family of origin – there is no one approach that fits all. If there was – we would all be doing it and there would not be such a demand for therapy, coaching, pastoral counseling, spiritual direction, mentorship and more.
A positive relationship with your therapist, evidenced based approaches, a solid understanding of trauma and the brain, specialized training in areas of focus, a beautiful environment and good client care combined with a motivated client can make a dent in the presenting goals while increasing the odds there will be some sustained benefit.
Yes, results still may vary.
The unknown is scary. But often, so is status quo.
Daring to reach out, ask for help and show up to share your story of struggle is more than half the battle towards living a life which can better tolerate uncertainty.
Instead of asking for certainty in results as you seek out professional support, require: respect, high legal and ethical standards, safety and a space that will support you while doing the messy work of being human.
And since we are all human, never forget we are all on this journey together.
With gratitude –
Rebecca Bass-Ching, LMFT
Founder + CEO of Potentia Family Therapy, Inc.