Art of Changing
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Reflections from The Art of Changing
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from a pastor's sermon.
of the most helpful little books that I have read recently is The
Art of Changing: Your Path to a Better Life by Susan Peabody.
In a concise way she hits the big items involved when a person gets
serious about changing their life for the better, i.e. willingness,
taking action, getting help, helping others, building self-esteem,
embracing spirituality, treating depression, healing the wounds
of the past, and forgiving ourselves and others. She begins her
work with a profound quote from her personal journey, “Change
is to human life what the metamorphosis is to the caterpillar; it
is the inevitable cycle of life. If there is no change, there is
no life.” I was not looking for an in-depth analysis of the
mysterious and difficult process of changing. I was looking for
inspiration and I found it. Susan did it. I can too.
am available to do a presentation or book signing in your community.
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A Personal Journey
Stay Focused on Yourself
The Process of Changing
Change Your Mind; Change Your Life
Facing Your Shortcomings
The Power of the Group
The Power of Therapy
Healing the Wounds of the Past
Desperately Seeking Susan
12 years I taught a self-help course called Addiction to Love. At
the end of the class I always passed out a list of self-help books.
Inevitably, at least one student would raise her hand and say, “I
have read most of these books and they don’t help. I don’t
know what I am doing wrong.” Speaking to these students after
class, I often discovered that they were stuck because they didn’t
understand one fundamental truth—our lives don’t get
better when we read a book or go to a class; our lives get better
when we put forth the effort to change.
Is change important? Yes! because it is a natural process from which
we get a feeling of self-worth and well-being. Unfortunately, sometimes
the natural process of changing gets interrupted—usually because
we are flung into survival mode by difficult circumstances. This
was certainly true for me. By the time I was thirty two years old
I had not grown emotionally or socially since my adolescence. My
maturation had become fixated. I was a creature of habit, not a
human being. I was lonely and out of control. I hurt others and
I hurt myself. Yet, despite all the pain I was in, I was afraid
to change. I was terrified of the unknown. I said to my therapist
when he asked me what was holding me back from getting better: “I
am afraid to get well. Mental health is unfamiliar. It is a mystery
that lies beyond a closed door and I have no peep hole. That mystery
feels like a beast ready to devour me if I open the door. What if
getting better is worse than being sick? It can happen. Besides,
I think I have bonded to my vision of myself as a victim. I prefer
self-pity to self-esteem”
This honest appraisal was the beginning of my own personal transformation
which has culminated in this book. While it is meant to be a self-help
book, it is also, in many respects, the story of my life.
Why have I written this book? I have written it because I love to
teach. I only wish the woman I am today could reach back in time
and teach the young woman I was. I would try to help her see what
is so clear to me now. That change is important. That there is nothing
to be afraid of. That dreams come true if we change. That it is
never too late to change and the sooner we get started the easier
it is to adjust to the changes we make. Most of all, that we are
not alone as we make these changes. There are what Joseph Campbell
calls “invisible hands,” which come to our aid when
we are ready to change.
are hundreds of self-help books on the market. We have more information
about the human psyche than we have ever had before. This is the
age of self-awareness. In addition, unlike the first generation
of self-help books, we now have a variety of solutions to our problems.
Any psychology book worth its salt offers a recovery program that
(if followed) will eliminate whatever problem you have.
Despite all of this information, many people still get stuck when
it comes to changing. They either can’t get started or they
can’t stick with it, and professionals often have a hard time
explaining this. We know that the ability to change has a lot to
do with personality type, timing, childhood wounds and the nature
of the problem one has to change, but we still cannot completely
analyze or explain the process of changing. I think this is why
the art of changing is such a neglected topic. It is a mysterious
process and no one really has any definitive answers to the question
of how to change or how to even get the willingness to change.
While I don’t have all the answers either, I do believe it
is time to focus more attention on changing, because changing is
the bridge between the problem and the solution. Without the ability
to change we can never outgrow our problems, feel good about ourselves
or be successful.
In Alcoholics Anonymous members like to say about themselves: “Give
us a rut and we’ll furnish it.” When I first heard this
I had to laugh and say to myself in a reverent way, “Amen
to that.” If this little attempt at humor strikes a cord with
you as well—read on.
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