First Answer
Because therapists are often most interested in therapy. They usually do it full-time (for better and worse) and so may have other interests but rarely have time to pursue them to a high level of accomplishment.

Which probably isn’t what the question is getting at. So . . .


Rephrased Question
If therapy is so great, why don’t those who do therapy get to be the best at everything? It’s meant to remove our blocks and release our energies and so on.


Second Answer
Generally therapy does lead people to have more ease and joy and satisfying relationships (though this may include leaving dissatisfying ones).

But this still doesn’t answer the question about people living their potential. And it sort of leads to questions about what therapy is meant to be about. There are really a couple of questions in our rephrased question.


One question is: Does therapy help? In my experience for most people the answer is “yes”. That is: it lessens pain and increases ease with oneself and others.

Another question is: Does therapy help me become who I can be or want to be?
This is more complicated. Sometimes we discover that who I wanted to be was part of the problem. Therapy can mean that we see through an illusion. (We often want to get better the way we got sick. So we may need to be ‘cured’ of what we wanted.

And some therapists think it inappropriate to tell people who they should be or what they should do. For these people the issue of therapy helping people be ‘better people’ is inappropriate – sometimes it is regarded as just another attempt to impose an ideal.

I’m someone who thinks that, “Adjustment to an insane world is no measure of health” has much truth. Which means something like, human potential is good and some social situations impede the realisation of this potential; and these situations are worse than those which encourage our flourishing.

This is a social vision of people: we are effected by and to some extent shape our situation. We are nourished by those places where we can be ourselves and express ourselves and frustrated by other situations. And so we do what we can to find and create what nourishes us and reduce or transform our frustrations.

We could call this broader sense of therapy “self development” and keep “therapy” for pain alleviation and restoring ourselves to ‘normal’. Though there are whole types of therapy committed to self development being what therapy is about.

To the extent that therapy helps people to be more fulfilled, have more fulfilling relationships and do worthwhile work and play, it is contributing to making a better world. Some people will discover that their flourishing means being involved in social change and so their therapy contributes to a better world in this way too.

This is based on a particular view of who we are: not only rational, and not confined to our minds; but embodied and social beings who relate to ourselves and others with joy and sadness, with love and revulsion and much else.


For Your Reflection

  1. What is a significant frustration for you? (Maybe not the biggest but not the smallest either – one that has some importance for you.)
  2. What is it that you want to do?
  3. Is this possible? To get very good or even be the world’s best at something may be possible for you. To do it perfectly may not be.
  4. Is it a way to something else? (Acceptance from yourself or others? A feeling of joy? A release of emotion?)
  5. What would be flourishing for you? What kinds of support and resources do you need to flourish? What one step can you take to flourish?


Understanding Cancer: what it is, research and treatment

July 15, 2015

  The Cancer Solution taking charge of your life with cancer  A cancer handbook for inquisitive laypersons and health care professionals by Jack C Westman   Preliminaries This book is entirely US focused. The title is a bit misleading. Though I can’t think of a title that would do it justice. It is quite broad […]

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Outrage and What to do With It

July 10, 2015

    In Australia we have the phenomenon of shock jocks. (And the newspaper equivalent – Murdoch who owns Fox”news” owns about 80% of our capital city newspapers.) I find the whole thing rather surprising. I just don’t bother listening.  So why do people listen? I was given the explanation for this by an Australian […]

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5 reasons you must write down your goals

July 7, 2015

Today a guest post from Farouk.  For those of you who like to have goals, and reach them.   All people have goals that they want to reach but some people just never pursue those goals. I kept searching for the reasons that motivate people to reach their goals and ones that prevent others from […]

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Changeology by Les Robinson

May 14, 2015

  The subtitle for this book gives a good idea of what it is about: how to enable groups, communities, and societies to do things they’ve never done before. It is a bit of a tangent to what this blog is normally about (the posts are usually individually addressed because this is how computers are […]

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The Narcissistic Cycle of Abuse

May 8, 2015

  This link was sent to me by a long-time reader of this blog.  Many thanks to them.  I think it is very valuable.   It describes the cycle of abuse from the perspective of the narcissistic abuser.  It has four stages: The narcissist feels threatened They abuse They feel they are the victim They […]

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In Defense of (some) Shoulds #2 ethics

May 5, 2015

  In the last post I looked at how shoulds lead to misery. And how saying ‘you shouldn’t have shoulds’ doesn’t help.   Ethics One area of ‘you shouldn’t have shoulds’ is in beliefs about right and wrong. It is quite common for people to say that ‘we are all entitled to our beliefs’ about […]

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In Defense of (some) Shoulds  #1 listening to the shoulds

April 29, 2015

  Shoulds tend to get a bad press in the self development blogosphere, and for good reason. Usually they lead to misery. Because they are based on perfectionism and demands that are impossible to fulfil. Usually they are just a way of torturing ourselves. Usually they are absorbed from others rather than thought through decisions. […]

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Female and Male, Private and Public, and A New Religion

April 24, 2015

  This post was inspired by Annabel Crabb’s The Wife Drought. (A ‘wife’ being a person of any gender who isn’t in paid employment or is in part-time employment in order to support their spouse who is working full-time). Annabel is an Australian journalist. She writes very readable prose and has a good eye for […]

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Authentic Empowerment

April 21, 2015

    This is a guest post from Ashley Hathaway.  I followed a link from a comment on a blog post to Ashley’s blog.  Which is  I liked it so much I invited her to submit a guest post.  Which she was kind enough to do.  Enjoy.   In my current and previous role […]

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Taste and Style

April 12, 2015

  What is self development about? The most common answer I come across in the self development blogosphere is “achieving your goals”. But this has problems: You might achieve the wrong goal You might not find the process of achievement meaningful or enjoyable It has little room for embracing pleasant surprises Things beyond our control […]

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