Inside Out - On Purpose
I invite you to share what may well be the most
profound journey that any of us can ever take – a journey into the deeper
parts of our very being.
Such a journey can help us to discover, uncover and to rediscover our wonderful and mainly untapped resources.
Often unfamiliar, sometimes even unacknowledged because
they remain unused, these resources lie dormant, buried, repressed and denied,
manifesting in the undercurrents of fear and frustration that permeate so much
of our day-to-day lives. These feelings are often underpinned by a vague but
pervasive sense of yearning for 'Something Other' (not here, not now, not me).
We have more to give and to experience; there is so much more that we could tap
into - if only! And yet, something holds us back. It may be an inner voice,
unbidden images, created or recalled unwanted feelings of doubt, unexpected
feelings of irrational anxiety, helplessness or futility. Or, pernicious and
persistent, the bitter regret of, "If only…"
"If only yesterday had been otherwise how
different today would be!"
Clinging to regrets for wrong turnings and errors of
judgements, we feed the fires of resentment, guilt and blame by rehashing every
long-remembered betrayal, abuse and loss.
At other times we may believe, and find others to
agree, that it is the future not the past that prevents us becoming the best
that we might be. Anxieties, fears, negative hallucinations and self-fulfilling
prophecies limit the vision of future possibilities and impair our judgment in
the here and now.
Exposing the teeth marks on our psyche to justify
shying away from risks and responsibilities, we seek people to give us the
sympathy we think we need and believe we deserve. Their good intentions
reinforce our convictions and problems, which are neither the past nor the
future, as such, but our thoughts and feelings about yesterday and tomorrow in
the living breathing moment of the Now.
The philosophy of this journey is simple. Each moment, each heartbeat, happens in an instant of choice.
Each moment offers various options. We may not be aware of the options, let alone the possibility of choosing, but, between one heartbeat and the next we choose:
What we are going to focus
What meaning we will give it
What action we will take
If you (like most people in the West), do not believe
that this applies to you then much
of what follows will be, at best, of academic interest. We are always doing our best
at any given moment as far as our beliefs, values, imagination and memories
A nanosecond later, we may feel both wiser and more foolish, wishing we had
acted differently (“If only!”).
A nanosecond later, we may feel both wiser and more foolish, wishing we had acted differently (“If only!”).
Repeating a mistake, repeating a mistake, taking
another wrong turning, meeting another dead-end, is only lamentable if we choose
not to seek the lesson available in every mistake.
In the living breathing heartbeat, we can choose to look over the wall and imagine the possibilities, or we can choose to keep looking back over our shoulder and regretting our limitations.
I invite you to consider who and how you would like to
be. How will you look? What will you say? How will you sound and feel when you
are moving toward your full potential? What steps you are willing to take to
fulfill that vision and inhabit your dream?
This article is intended to help you to reconsider the
decisions you make, if you so desire, about who you are and where you are going.
What you really want? How you will go about getting it? You know whether you are
expressing the best of yourself in your relationships with other people because
you feel good about asserting yourself, and you treat others with respect and
generosity of spirit.
You will know that you are more fully connected to the
world around you when you approach it with curiosity, interact with creativity
and behave with responsibility, respect and dignity. How, in the ordinary
moments of your day, can you nurture your extraordinary potential?
The invitation and the questions imply change, as does
any experience of personal development.
If we develop our potential, by definition we change.
If we build on that to develop yet more of our potential, we can influence the
world around us. We may set an example, become role models, motivate, nurture
and inspire others so that they feel encouraged to take risks and to develop or
to change themselves. If the world and the people around us change, those
changes will impact on us, and so on, and so on.
Take someone who, arriving home after an assertiveness course, finds that
the people in hir life do not like the 'new' persona. They may even be rejecting
or punitive. This may compel the person back into hir shell or, like countless
real, imaginary and fictional heroes, to vast horizons and new visions.
Many people want to change (although even more want to
stay the same), but have not fully considered the 'ecology' of change and the
impact on others. New responsibilities and challenges may be unexpected and
uncomfortable and the price of change seems too great compared to the
familiarity of the present state of affairs.
The Self-Change Model
Also known as the Transtheoretical Model
(Prochaska & DiClemente,
1983; Prochaska, DiClemente, & Norcross, 1992; Prochaska & Velicer,
this model describes a series of steps and stages for personal evolution. It
requires giving up dependency and blame and taking appropriate responsibility
for our decisions and actions.
In the first stage - pre-contemplation - a person may
have no idea that there is a need for change. They may deny the existence or the
significance of any evidence, clinging tenaciously to the security of their map
and model of 'Reality'. They certainly have no thought of change in the
In this stage we look at our own thoughts, feelings and
actions, and consider the possibility that we could do something different.
It is at this point that many people, peeking out of
their comfort zone, realise (decide) that they prefer their patterns, even if
they're painful, and retreat hastily into a bolthole of rationalisations.
Alert for danger, we may oscillate in and out of the
contemplation stage as we test the waters and sniff the air. As each emergence
makes us a little bolder, a little braver, we may roam a little wider. We are
still wary, doubtful and ready to retreat, but ever more optimistic that change
could be worth the risk. As we yo-yo between the past and the future, between
hope and the fear, something in our perception shifts and we start questioning
our assumptions and attitudes. We can now imagine the possibility of
asked Joe, after some emotional freedom tapping, “As you listen to your
feelings now, how are they different?”
Emboldened by our forays, we direct our thoughts,
though perhaps not yet our actions, toward real change. Not just any change, of
course, but self-change.
We can think seriously about doing something different
or doing the same thing in a different time or place.
This could be simply thinking about preparing for a new
activity, or it could be thinking about a change of job, abode or places of
overweight, John decided that he wanted to run a half-marathon. He thought
seriously about his eating (and drinking) habits. Reluctant to forgo his weekly
binges with his drinking buddies, he decided that, at the very least, he didn't
need to imbibe quite so much at lunch times. Immediately he cut down.
was not quite ready to commit, but he was getting ready.
Re-evaluating means (re) considering how Selfhood (who we think we are) shapes our relationships with people, events and situations. We question the validity of our convictions or the vanity of our certainties. This can be extremely uncomfortable, especially if our sense of Self is firmly attached to our version of Reality.
Fragile Egos believe they can only survive in the confines of their Limiting Beliefs!
To get ready for change, it is useful, even essential,
to have a clear picture of the desired changes. How will I look different, how
will others see me differently, how will things look different as I change and
when I’ve changed?
When you have pictured that clearly, in full colour,
you can step into that picture and anticipate the feelings you will have when
the changes are established.
At this - or at any - point in the process, you could
decide that the changes are not worth the effort required. Too little outcome
for too much input.
Having prepared, we can focus attention on the
emotional, conceptual and psychological investment required. No longer just
wishing and hoping, we are aware of and serious about taking the risk. We are
prepared and now we commit to following through and dealing with the
This, and every stage, can re-stimulate enough doubts
and anxieties that we loop back to any of the previous stages - even to
pre-contemplation. “What was the point? I was just banging my head against a
Other people know that something is different because
of our general attitude, the things we say and the way we say them, and because
our reactions are different. When we are truly committed, we are less threatened
or upset by other people’s scepticism or cynicism. As they are very willing to
remind us; they’ve heard it all before!
OK, we made it this far! Perhaps we took a convoluted
route, two steps forward three steps sideways, but now we are ready to show we
mean business. Now we are going to walk our talk!
So we do, and guess what? Just as (or worse than) we
feared, it all goes wrong.
What next? Retreat or recommitment?
It’s up to you. It’s up to me.
Either way, it's still a choice.
This can be a difficult stage. We need to stay focused
on the benefits and believe in our capacity to work through to the glittering
prize of Self-esteem.
We may need encouragement but not find it.
We can relapse and feel that we have failed – again! Friends may say
“I told you so!” Colleagues may indicate “I knew it!” And we will need
to draw on all our inner resources, resilience and support networks to maintain
And if you fall before winning post? So, You pick
yourself up, dust yourself down and start all over again!
Eventually, you know that you unlikely ever to return
to the problem state. It may happen, ‘never say never’ but there is no need
to worry. Your effort, your preparation, your commitment and the action is now a
part of who you are. People don’t offer you drinks, or tablets or cigarettes.
They don’t expect you to engage in the same old tired and tiring behaviours.
You don’t expect them to bail you out, and you aren’t blaming them for what
goes wrong because you accept responsibility for your contribution.
Other people may not like the way we have changed. At
any of the stages, some people may have fallen by the wayside. In the
contemplation stage we will have weighed up the possibility that a friend or
lover may not stay around if we change the way we are. And maybe they won’t!
But, we can let them go with love or we can use them as an excuse not to change.
Handling other people’s reactions to our personal
development will be addressed in a future article.
Self Change takes time and it requires ‘minor’ yet
profound changes. We will need at least to consider our (limiting) beliefs, our
values (to value ourselves by shifting from self-doubt to self-esteem is a
massive shift of beliefs and values), our relationships, our perceptions,
assumptions, memories, attitudes and even our identity.
I believe we are here to grow. To develop our full
potential and to evolve both as individuals and as a species. Human beings are
remarkable and wonderful creatures with a vast capacity to evolve and grow. We
can create an illusion of security by trying to maintain the status quo, but it
goes against nature to do so. It takes as much emotional and creative energy to
stay the same as it does to change. We are by nature creative and aspirational
beings. As Oscar Wilde said, “We are all in the gutter, but some of us are
looking at the stars!”
For details of Michael’s workshops, you can email
· Living On Purpose 37 Layfield Road Hendon London NW4 3UH.