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Frog, Toad & Patience

This week I found myself reading the Frog and Toad Stories by Arnold Lobel. These are easy reader children's stories written in the 70's. They're great.

In one of the stories Frog and Toad sit in Frog's beautiful garden. The sun is shining, the flowers are all in season and the smell is delicious. Toad asks Frog how he too can have such a lovely garden and Frog says "well you need to plant seeds". Toad takes seeds and cuttings and he goes home delighted.

However, the next day he comes back to Frog disappointed, saying he has planted the seeds and nothing has happened, that his garden looks exactly the same. He doesn't have all the things he sees in Frog's garden. Toad tells him it takes time, you need to water the seeds, you need to be sure the plants have taken root and that the cuttings are perhaps in the shaded part of the garden and so on. Planting the seeds is important but just the beginning of their growth.

The moral of the story is, of course, that for things to flourish, we have to be patient and sometimes be prepared to wait, to put in the work and acknowledge that things do not change the moment we learn what it is that will make them change.

This is certainly a common issue in therapy.

Its understandable that people who are struggling with their lives want to feel better quickly. Often it is possible to feel some change quickly - a sense of relief perhaps that things are now being talked about. However, therapy is also sitting with the frustration and ongoing sadness of what we have experienced. It is working through the feeling that things are sometimes just not happening quickly enough. In essence its working with the whole person as they are right now and not the external events of the past - a longer process of internal reflection rather than just externally understanding what happened.

Knowing what is at the bottom or our sadness or troubles is incredibly important. But its not an instantaneous cure for our emotional pain- its no more than the beginning. Like a garden, the work can in itself is hard but rewarding as we slowly see the transformation - that is the therapeutic process in action.

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