When mental progress begins with new awareness, is it normal for things to get worse before lasting progress occurs?
While I don’t love the word, “normal”, this is very very common, and is something I’d expect in many cases.
This is how it generally goes:
- We develop ways to survive particular circumstances as a child,
- These methods become maladaptive as adults and get in our way, interfere with our relationships, become obstacles to our goals.
- Combined with a distorted sense of self, the individual operates with a “false self” as a facade that protects a fragile inner child. (This occurs in conjunction with #2)
- The person goes to therapy because they recognize that their are significant problems in their life, and want help in finding ways to live in the world more optimally.
- Together the therapist and patient, learn about many of the underlying issues that may be correlated with their maladaptive patterns and distorted sense of self.
- Together they begin to deconstruct the false facade the individual has been operating with for most of their life, which they recognize is causing them many issues.
- At some point, of things go well in therapy, the facade is broken down as are many of the maladaptive behaviors.
- The individual finds themself without a solid sense of identity, and without many mechanisms, now that they’ve discarded their false self and maladaptive coping mechanisms.
- The person feels lost, and even less stable then they did before when they had the use of their false self and old coping mechanisms.
- The person now has the incredible opportunity to develop a new sense of self more based on reality and who they truly are, as opposed to one that had been imposed on them by their childhood circumstances.
- The person can now develop healthier copying mechanisms that do not get in the way of creating healthy relationships and personal goals.
You can see how in #9 things have gotten worse, but are in fact a sign of progress. While it’s a wonderful opportunity for personal growth, the person generally goes through a period of vulnerability and fragility, before they right themselves and find their way.