Recently I met with clients for a consultation. Neither could quite explain how it had gotten to the point that they required a meeting with a mediator. One of them said, while the other nodded in agreement, “I know we should have, but we just could not stop.”
Wouldn’t it just be wonderful if we could JUST STOP!!! behaviors and attitudes that prevent us from flourishing or hurting others. It is like the Nike Ad “Just Do it.” If we all could, imagine how straightforward our lives would be.
You may have seen this Bob Newhart clip which riffs on the idea that you can indeed stop:
The skit completely overlooks (and mocks) past trauma, ambivalent feelings, resistance, fear and insecurities with which most of us struggle and hinders motivation to change.
It is disappointing that we cannot be our imagined selves, particularly during a time of stress and transition.
I have noticed that people change more (to that self that they would like to be) when they have given voice to their desire. To be motivated to change, there needs to be a recognition as to why it is important, the confidence to begin to engage in the process and a readiness to do so. This is hard and often requires the support of others.
As a mediator, I try to maintain an inquisitive and compassionate stance to allow the hope to be shared (often bolstered by therapeutic guidance outside the mediation). People can stop and change course, realigning with a personal value. Two examples I recently encountered: a client decided to collaborate in the resolution of a dispute (after years of high stakes litigation) and another is working to adjust behaviors to encourage a greater chance of being a more effective co-parent.