Climbing Mt. Everest
By: Kathy
July 22, 2012

Changing behavior is SO hard, isn’t it?  This is especially hard when our behavior is driven from such deep wounds as abandonment and shame!  To switch from our knee jerk reactions to new and healthier behaviors takes time and effort.  In our world that values and demands instant results, trying to change unhealthy behavior often feels like climbing Mount Everest!  Everyone comes into marriage counseling wanting to be peacefully sitting at the top, enjoying the view, but few have the wherewithal to endure the hazards, pitfalls, and triumphs along the way!

Let me explain the stages of change. . .

Unconscious/Unconscious:  We don’t know what it is that we don’t know!  We are unaware that there is a problem, or a need for change.   We blissfully go through life believing we know all we need to know and are doing okay, until . . .

Conscious/Unconscious:  We know now there is something we don’t know.  We are made aware of a problem, however, we don’t know how to fix it OR we have cognitively learned how to fix it, but we can’t make ourselves do it!  We are being reactive, but we can’t make ourselves stop doing things that are bad for us or damaging to the relationship.

Conscious/Conscious:  I know what it is that I know.  I know there is a problem and I am taking conscious deliberate steps to do what is necessary to fix it!  This stage of learning is tedious, grueling, anxiety-producing, mistake-ridden, and it just downright stinks!  This is where we lose most people in counseling.  They want to go back to the previous stage and be helicoptered up, dropped on the summit of Mt. Everest; to be able to enjoy the view without doing the climb!  People want the healthy behavior, but they are unwilling to do the work to achieve it!

Unconscious/Conscious:  I don’t know what it is that I know.  The new, healthier behavior happens without having to think about it anymore!  The lesson is settled deep in your soul and much healthier and less intense responses are enjoyed and you truly appreciate what you have gained from the change!

So let me ask you, if you flew to the top of Mt. Everest, you’d have a story to tell wouldn’t you?  “I flew over, here’s what it looked like, it was cool.”  End of story.  What if instead you were to be on a team of climbers and endured climbing up different pitches and textures and terrains?  You experienced extreme temperatures and saw amazing sights and felt terrifying fear and experienced the ill effects of high altitudes and basically risked life and limb?  You would NEVER, EVER forget the amazing details of your climb.  When you reached the top, you would appreciate it so much more because of what you had to endure to get there!

Marriage counseling is like climbing Mt. Everest.  It’s High Risk/High Reward.  What you learn in counseling will stick, but only if you endure the pain and agony you experience along the way.  Learning a lesson in your head only puts you at the Conscious/Conscious stage.  You must go through the Unconscious/Conscious stage in order to learn a lesson in your heart.  With this comes pain, but it is most worth it when you are finally at the peak of the mountain soaking in the spectacular benefits!