How Can We Best Discover The Secrets Of Authentic Change? Part 1. By Dr Linda Berman.

imageNorthern River.Thomas Thompson. Wikioo.

“Life is a series of natural and spontaneous changes. Don’t resist them – that only creates sorrow. Let reality be reality. Let things flow naturally forward in whatever way they like.”

Lao Tzu

Why have I used the word ‘secrets’ in my headline to this post?

I call these insights about change ‘secrets’ because, unless a person is ready to change, they cannot ‘hear’ insights offered to help them to do so.

Have you ever tried, perhaps in a therapist role, to share an insightful thought or idea with someone who is not open to it or cannot take it on board?

imageJames Gill. Wikioo. Secrets Revealed.

“All the secrets of the world worth knowing are hiding in plain sight.”
 Robin Sloan.

Often, the attempt  to ‘divulge’ the secrets of change is met by a dismissive denial and rejection from a person who is not ready to hear, is threatened by your words, or is not in touch with their unconscious self.


Variation: Mystery.  1921. Alexej Georgewitsch Von Jawlensky. Wikioo.

“Why do we resist the mystery that change brings?

Dennis Merritt Jones

The mysteries of change are, indeed, special and somewhat magical secrets, in that they are available only to those who are open and receptive to them.

These ‘secrets’ are, logically, not difficult to work out, but emotionally they can feel complex.

imageComplex-Simple. Wassily Kandinsky. Wikioo.

“The simple things are also the most extraordinary things, and only the wise can see them.”

 Paulo Coelho

Change is never easy for any of us. Old habits die hard and we often struggle to shed them. Many people repeat patterns of behaviour that are destructive to themselves and others.

Below are some pointers towards understanding some of the secrets of change, in relation to aspects of ourselves and our lives.

  • We Cannot Force Change

imageThe River Epte – (Claude Monet)

“Don’t push the river; it flows by itself.”

Barry Stevens.

If we are not ready for change, then no amount of pressure will achieve that.

“When people are ready to, they change. They never do it before then, and sometimes they die before they get around to it. You can’t make them change if they don’t want to, just like when they do want to, you can’t stop them.”

George Bernard Shaw.

We need to have the motivation, the desire and the ability to face change in ourselves and in our lives. The process of change can be long and gradual, sometimes hardly discernible.

  • Changing Your Mind: Flexibility Not Rigidity.

imageThe Open Door in Vernon. Pierre Bonnard. Wikioo.

“The art of life lies in a constant readjustment to our surroundings.”

Kakuzō Okakura

Having an open, flexible mindset is crucial if we are to bring about real change, in ourselves and in the world around us.

Being ‘responsive to change’ is beneficial in our lives and ways of thinking that are closed, rigid or extreme are unhealthy for us.

imageThe Snake Sheds Its Skin. Dez Quarréll.1996. Wikioo.

“The snake which cannot cast its skin has to die. As well the minds which are prevented from changing their opinions; they cease to be mind.”

Friedrich Nietzsche

“Just as a snake sheds its skin, we must shed our past over and over again.”


Being able to think only in black and white means that we see everything in all or nothing terms; there are no in-between areas or shades of grey. Nothing changes. Nothing must change.

This is an absolutist kind of approach to life, one that will result in a limited and bigoted attitude and a lack of ability to change one’s mind.

Such polarised thinking renders us woefully unprepared for the uncertainty and unpredictability of life, and for the changes that will inevitably occur.

Achille Etna Michallon. The Oak and The Reed.
Painting based on La Fontaine’s fable Le Chêne et le Roseau (The Oak and the Reed).1816. Wikimedia Commons

“The green reed which bends in the wind is stronger than the mighty oak which breaks in a storm.”


Living with such rigidity of mind is unhealthy, giving a false sense of  ‘stability,’ and it may lead to anxiety and depression.

“Don’t cling to your self-concept purely because your will demands it. Demand that your environment aligns as much as possible and change what you must about yourself when the outer world can’t be changed. Mental health is about mental fluidity, mental illness stems in rigidity.”

Oli Anderson

Black and white thinking makes a person unable to accept change, or look at the self in any insightful way. 


Composition II With Black lines. Piet Mondrian.Wikioo.

“The problem with black-and-white thinking is that you never get to see the rainbow.”

Omar Sharif

Telemaco Signorini. Contemplation. Wikimedia Commons.

“Progress is impossible without change; and those who cannot change their minds cannot change anything.”

George Bernard Shaw

We might call the opposite of black and white thinking colourful thinking. Immediately, we are flooded with so many more options.

We have access to a myriad of feelings, thoughts, viewpoints, opinions, beliefs…..and opportunities for change.

Now we can permit feelings like uncertainty, and we can wait, we do not have to rush into ‘clear-cut’ conclusions.

How much more creative and open to change is this more adaptable approach to ourselves and to life….

  • Growth And Change In Nature…..

imageRhesus Macaques in Agra, Northern India. Wikimedia Commons.

“It is not the strongest of the species that survive, nor the most intelligent, but the one most responsive to change.”

Charles Darwin.

Nature is continually adapting and changing, both within itself and in response to the outer world. We are all part of that cycle of change and growth.

From Nature we can learn many things about personal growth and change.

imageMetamorphosis XXIII. Maria Sibylla Merian. Wikioo.

We witness, among many other aspects of Nature, the power and resilience of trees, the patience of slowly opening shoots and buds, the wondrous transformation of caterpillar to butterfly, the silence, peace and strength of mountains.

imageMountains in Winter. Ernst Ludwig Kirchner. 1919. Wikioo.

“Our peace shall stand as firm as rocky mountains.”

William Shakespeare

We see also the ability to adapt to injury in animals and plants, the healing nature of water and sunshine, and the oneness and connectedness of all things in our universe.


Dissertatio De Generatione Et Metamorphosibus Insectorum Surinamensium_2 .Maria Sibylla Merian.Wikioo

“Come forth into the Light of things, let Nature be your teacher.”

William Wordsworth

“Look deep into nature, and then you will understand everything better.”

 Albert Einstein

imageNew Growth.Jamie Wyeth.1971. Wikioo.

“Change may not always bring growth, but there is no growth without change.”

Roy T. Bennett

“Look at a tree, a flower, a plant. Let your awareness rest upon it. How still they are, how deeply rooted in Being.”

Eckhart Tolle

imageVan Gogh. Flowering Garden. Wikimedia Commons.

“You can cut all the flowers but you cannot keep spring from coming.”

Pablo Neruda.

Read Part 2 of this post next Tuesday, for an exploration of  Change in Therapy, Relationships and the Self.

©Linda Berman.

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