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I have noticed over the years that as my clients recover from a complaint we’ve been working on, quite often they’ll experience a demoralising setback or relapse.

So, for example, a person may be no longer depressed or anxious as they were, and learning to live in a new way. Though still unsure that the positive changes will last, they will gradually be noticing signs that reinforce their confidence that change is happening.  This is often when they suddenly find themselves with some of the old symptoms returning. At this point they say things like “I feel as if I’m back where I started.”

But they’re not, it just seems that way, and I remind them that things are often ‘two steps forward, one step back’. Change often starts out well (two steps forward), which is reassuring and creates a little hope or optimism.

Any interruption of progress (one step back), in comparison to progress, feels like total setback or even failure, but it’s not. The symptoms are never as extreme as they were and their partial return is transitory. What they are experiencing is simple the natural ebb and flow of life. Learning that this is natural is also part of recovery and becoming more resilient.

Just like when, even quite late into springtime, we’ll wake one morning to icy blasts and it feels as if we are back in the depths of winter, but we’re not.

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