Gestalt therapy assumes that we are already self-regulating, although in ways that we might dislike or be causing more problems than we intend. This is because our framework toward life has developed earlier in life with different resources and challenges. I am not a coder but like to use a technology analogy. Imagine trying to use the original iPhone to use the TikTok app or do advanced video editing. It would be a frustrating experience because data speeds would be painfully slow and the phone would load forever. This is because the original iPhone was made for the needs around 2007 when the digital world and smart phones were just introduced and our understanding of its potential was in its infancy. Like the original iPhone, we also had different needs and threats at the time we formed many of our fears and automatic behaviors. Our primary aim in those early years is to survive and meet our needs for survival, which include food, shelter, safety, a sense of belonging, and being valued among others. Because we live in a suboptimal world, our circumstances are often not ideal to meeting these needs and we must learn to adapt in a way to maximize our potential for meeting them. As these unique ways we have adapted prove effective, we repeat them until they become automatic and drop below our level of awareness. When these adaptations are now automatic and subconscious, we no longer have access to them or can change them.
The goal of Gestalt therapy then is not to change us but to enable us to change. To do so, we must become aware of what we do and how we do it as it occurs in the present moment, which is the only time we can change. By becoming aware of this, initially in retrospection and eventually in the moment, we then have the ability to make a choice. We can then experiment with different ways of relating to ourselves and others that better fit current circumstances and needs, rather than relying on automatic behaviors that were acquired to deal with in a different time and place. The aim of Gestalt therapy then is to increase awareness of self and, by becoming so, become more response-able to ourselves and our current environment.