What is your take on personal transformation?
Here is how most people, motivational speakers and coaches tend to see how transformation works:
“If you want to make the changes you desire in your life, you must first set your intention, then apply all your willpower and determination into your efforts to make those changes. You will encounter resistance along the way, and you must commit to pushing through your resistance until you attain your goals.”
I find no beauty or elegance in this approach. Most of us put more energy into resisting change than in promoting it. As a result, we fail to live the way we wish to, blaming it on our lack of willpower and telling ourselves that we were too weak to make the grade. It’s heart-hardening.
We feel a great deal of unhappiness and shame as a result. So we try even harder, co-creating an anxiety-saturated culture which seeks rapid, results-driven change. In doing so, we miss the beauty and joy of living in the present moment.
Many motivational workshop facilitators and life coaches speak to this culture, walking beside you and temporarily bolstering your resolve with encouraging words. When the workshop wears off within hours or days, as they always do, the energy of your determination resets to its original value and you are back to square one.
Another and altogether more passive approach is to petition a ‘higher power’, whether this be a deity, angel or “the universe”. If I want something badly enough, the higher power will drop it into my lap. A variation of this is ‘I create my world – therefore I choose to create a super-affluent lifestyle for myself’. This does not work either. You simply don’t get the things you want just by wanting them.
The self-help industry thrives on addiction to willpower and higher power and all the mixtures of the two, and three million self-help books are read by the UK public every year. That’s a lot of self-help. The truth is, these books take the place of a workshop, bolstering your resolve during reading time and gathering dust on your shelf whilst you reset. So you ‘top-up’ with another workshop or book and continue the cycle which makes money for the successful promoters and leaves you more disillusioned and ashamed.
Twenty-five years of professional and personal experience have taught me that there is a more effective way of helping individuals achieve the changes they want. And the key to this is to address and honour the power of your resistance to change.
Why do we resist change so strongly when we desire it so much?
The short and simple answer is that when we were very young, we evolved a way of living that enabled us to survive and maybe thrive. Animals are creatures of habit and the deeper, animal parts of our mind want to sustain the original way of living out of habit even though, as adults, our circumstances have changed and we need a new way of being to serve the life we now lead.
Our resistance to change is designed to serve us: it is not a demon to be waged war with using willpower as a super-weapon.
Your resistance is the Japanese soldier marooned on the desert island who bravely resisted ‘invasion’ by the non-Japanese merchant sailors who discovered him in 1954, nine years after World War II had ended. Not knowing this, his resistance was an act of heroism and integrity. Your resistance to change springs from a part of your mind which is like that Japanese soldier: full of energy and loyalty but driven by outmoded thinking.
My perspective on resistance is in accordance with the methodology of Integral Coaching Canada with whom I trained and qualified as an Associate Coach. Instead of attacking resistance, we get close to it, observe what it is closing down, listen to the tales it has to tell about our history, our family and our culture. Resistance shows us how strong we are, like the Japanese soldier. It is into this old resisting self that we begin to sow the seeds of change, like telling the soldier a new narrative, the war has ended. We make this strength work for us.
Here is how I work with you. Two steps.
The first step is to slow down, breathe deeply and take a long, sober look at how you are living your life right now without trying to change anything. How does your way of living work for you, and how does it prevent you from changing? Learning to observe your current lifestyle with calmness, curiosity and compassion gives you a clarity not afforded by the failure-into-success view of personal growth. You learn the core values of self-respect and compassion through observing how you live: as one client put it, it was such a relief to be the observer of my life and not its critic….I learned to love myself in the act of witnessing.
The second step is to begin to introduce small changes into your life by engaging in exercises/structures which build sustainable new competencies relevant to the outcomes you wish to achieve. These competencies slowly colonise your current way of being without anything being forced, and they take root in your body, mind, heart and spirit.
This can only really happen when you slow down and do not strive for an impossible perfection. One client, a technical specialist who was unable to assert himself in the presence of aggressive executives, imagined that I was going to coach him in assertiveness techniques to which he could perfect himself. Instead, I offered him a way of strengthening his ability to ask himself in any situation ‘What do I think of them?’ rather than ‘What do they think of me?’ This strengthening of his competence in living from the inside-out’ rather than the ‘outside-in’ strengthened his core self, gradually replacing his timidity in team meetings with a neutral and charismatic confidence which nourished his life. without forcing change upon him.
The process took him five months to accomplish. Deep and lasting transformation does not happen overnight.
I walk alongside my clients for as long as they need me and as I do so, I call forth their integrity and diligence, compassion and self-care, qualities that sustain us all on our path to wholeness and growth.
If you commit to working with me, it will be you who decides when you want to end my role in your journey. I offer you a method of transformation which nourishes you every step on the path, and which enables you to remain aware of the ever-present beauty of each moment in which you reside.