Of all the pieces of my quote series, to me, this one sticks out the most. “Never expect a silver bullet.” It is counter-cultural, though not counter-intuitive. It is annoying, yet acceptable. And it’s perhaps what we all want but know we are never going to get. So why do we hold so tightly to the idea of quick fixes and instant gratification? And why only in some realms of life do we expect this to actually work?
In the preface of the late Edwin Friedman’s A Failure of Nerve, Peter Steinke writes, “Anxiety and the search for the rapid solutions always result in a failure of nerve. Needing to be right, certain, and pain free, we narrow our thinking and put our courage on pause. Operating from a quick-fix mentality is a non-growth position. Instead, Edwin Friedman purposes that challenge is necessary for mature functioning.”
In this, I think we find both the answers and aversions to steady, long-suffering, growth and maturity-driven work. The way we grow and the way we want things fixed, and fixed now, compete for our allegiance. We happily point to our beloved sports or child-rearing as slowly learned through a great deal of effort, struggle, commitment, and time. We applaud those who stick with it when it’s unapologetically difficult and recognition is minimal. We admire and honor hard work and salute those willing to be steadfast and true.
And while we know better, even deeply respect those who do it the hard way, this knowledge does little to curb our intense and natural desire towards the path of least resistance. Our emotions interrupt our determination and we tap out, tune out, turn down, or take off. We want to be certain and safe, patching and repairing every little knick along the way.
And so we come to a crossroads. We often find ourselves with one foot in the work of growing and one foot in the hope of a silver bullet. We can easily and quickly become stuck here if we aren’t intentional. Therefore, in some sense we must choose to trust our actions and hard work or trust our thoughts, hopes, and wants of a quick fix.
Perhaps looking at this idea long term helps, as we can typically see that further down the road hard work pays off and helps to arrive at our desired destination. To be unstuck we must take action on this truth, regardless of thoughts and feelings. We choose better and trust the process of action over apathy. We bravely and courageously take the next steps even amid discomfort and struggle. We acknowledge the feelings and keep the course, resting as needed and yet never giving in to the desire of easy solutions.
This path is one of my favorite things about therapeutic work. Is gritty and hard, even daunting at times. It’s work to be sure. I encourage clients to stick with it similar to how I encourage myself to stick with my own journey. And the joy finds us as they learn to appreciate the means and the perseverance they have shown. For this difficult and trying work is their own and no one can take it from them. They stumble upon pride and improved self-worth because they challenged their need for a silver bullet and instead found a tenacious and more true self.
I encourage you to honestly look at the areas in your own life with which you hold onto the hope of a silver bullet. How does it help and hinder you actually getting to the place you desire? And I dare you to dream of what could be if you chose to dig in, work through the pain, coming out stronger on the other side.
Written by Lindsay Williams, MA, LPC.
It would be an honor and privilege to walk with you! Contact me today.