- Change Begins With You
Rescue. Jennings Tofel. 1954. Wikioo.
“Be the change you wish to see in the world.”
Change does indeed start with us, with really looking at the self and at the life we lead.
If we want change, we need to set an example through our own behaviour and beliefs, and, as Gandhi says, ‘be the change’ that we would wish to see.
“Don’t explain your philosophy. Embody it.”
Taking an in-depth look at ourselves and facing the aspects we do not like can be difficult.
We may need the help of trusted friends, or a therapist, to enable us to do this, and to focus on the areas we might need to work on.
Self-Portrait, Reflection. Lucian Freud.2004. Wikioo.
“The unexamined life is not worth living.”
Achieving authenticity is generally what we all aim for in life; it involves ways of thinking about how we relate to others, much self-examination and the wish to be sincere and honest with ourselves and those around us.
This may involve changes on both cognitive and emotional levels.
“But part of getting to know yourself is to unknow yourself—to let go of the limiting stories you’ve told yourself about who you are so that you aren’t trapped by them, so you can live your life and not the story you’ve been telling yourself about your life.”
Being our real selves involves courage, the courage to risk being true to ourselves. This sometimes requires that we speak out for change.
Keep your coins I want change. Banksy. Wikioo.
“Every human being must have a point at which he stands against the culture, where he says, “This is me and the world be damned!” Leaders have always been the ones to stand against the society – Socrates, Christ, Freud, all the way down the line.”
Trying to be a cardboard cut-out, or a masked version of who we think we ‘should’ be, is draining and detrimental to our sense of wellbeing.
Self-Portrait With Mask. Martiros Sarian. 1933. Wikioo.
“Change occurs when one becomes what one is, not when one tries to become what one is not. When forced to change, it is an attempt to actualise an image rather than to actualise the self.”
Paradoxical Theory of Change (Beisser,1970).
Rally for LGBT Equality. Minnesota. 2010. Wikimedia Commons.
“As any change must begin somewhere, it is the single individual who will experience it and carry it through. The change must indeed begin with an individual; it might be any one of us. Nobody can afford to look round and to wait for somebody else to do what he is loath to do himself.”
It is important to emphasise the fact that working on changing ourselves needs to happen before we can ‘change the world.’
There is a paradox inherent in the above statement, because, actually, if you change yourself, you will have an influence on the world around you, no matter how small.
You will create ripples of kindness that will spread, if you are able to show kindness yourself.
“If we can be the best people we are as individuals, then that’s the way to change the world.”
Bernard Spragg. Water ripples. Rose “Nelson girls. Flickr.
“A little fragrance always clings to the hand that gives roses.”
“Small acts of decency ripple in ways we could never imagine.”
Contemplation.Mark Rothko. Wikioo.
“Yesterday I was clever, so I wanted to change the world. Today I am wise, so I am changing myself.”
“You can’t change anyone else, but people do change in relationship to your change.”
- Change In Therapy.
“Everything is consciousness. YOU are consciousness and everything around you is a reflection of your [state of] consciousness.
When you shift your consciousness, when you change, your life changes too.”
Desire Of Opening Buds. Tsukioka Yoshitoshi. Wikioo.
“There came a time when the risk to remain tight in the bud was more painful than the risk it took to blossom.”
Deciding to have therapy can, in itself, signify the beginning of change.
What are some of the ways in which we can achieve therapeutic change?
From the very start of therapy, the therapist will show empathy towards the patient, and will help each person understand that they are not judging, but are accepting of the patient as a fellow human being, for we are all part of the same human condition.
With an empathic and strong presence, the therapist sets the scene for the patient’s journey of discovery into themselves.
“We cannot change anything until we accept it. Condemnation does not liberate, it oppresses.”
Timing is crucial; as already mentioned, it is important that the patient is motivated and ready for the therapy process.
Only then will they be open to discovering some of the ‘secrets’ about individuation, transformation and real change.
“Secrets could never be rushed. They had to come of their own accord, on their own schedule. That way, when they came, they offered themselves as a gift.”
Donna Jo Napoli
Winds of Change. Malindy Argyle. 2006
“We can’t direct the wind, but we can adjust the sails.”
Thomas S. Manson
Change involves taking responsibility for oneself. It means, in therapy, not expecting the therapist to lead the way, or to give answers, and being responsive to the shared search for therapeutic meaning and understanding.
It implies a willingness to find one’s own path, with the therapist accompanying us and offering help along the way towards gaining insight, leading to change.
“If you don’t like something, change it. If you can’t change it, change your attitude.”
Nina Valetova, Creator of Changes, Wikimedia Commons.
“When you let go of who you are, you become who you might be.”
Carl Rogers’ ways of seeing change are paramount:
“The curious paradox is that when I accept myself just as I am, then I can change.”
Carl R. Rogers
“We cannot change, we cannot move away from what we are, until we thoroughly accept what we are. Then change seems to come about almost unnoticed.”
Carl R. Rogers
Change is a process. Therapy can be a good place to come to terms with the fact that, throughout our lives, we will recognise that we do not progress towards change in a linear fashion.
“Transformation is a process, and as life happens there are tons of ups and downs. It’s a journey of discovery – there are moments on mountaintops and moments in deep valleys of despair.”
We spiral though life, sometimes stumbling, but each time we learn from the obstacles we encounter.
It is similar in therapy, for sometimes we find ourselves spiralling back into what feel like old issues.
However, material that requires more working through will always return for us to consider and try further to come to terms with.
This is far from a bad thing; indeed, we will come to realise that each time we revisit a problem, we gain a little more knowledge and understanding of it.
“The growth of understanding follows an ascending spiral rather than a straight line.”
We may feel as if we are in the same place as before, but in actuality we are higher up the spiral of self-knowledge and healing.
“The path isn’t a straight line; it’s a spiral. You continually come back to things you thought you understood and see deeper truths.”
Barry H. Gillespie
As we move forward in therapy, we will become enriched through the repetition and the new perspectives we gain.
Mystic River. Leon Kroll. Wikioo.
“A person is a fluid process, not a fixed and static entity; a flowing river of change, not a block of solid material; a continually changing constellation of potentialities, not a fixed quantity of traits.”
Carl R. Rogers
- Everything Changes.
For the Love of God. Damien Hirst. Wikioo.
“If you realise that all things change, there is nothing you will try to hold on to.”
I have talked often of impermanence in my past posts; I will add here that the only certainty in life is that everything in the universe, including ourselves, will change.
Nothing stays the same. We will experience many changes and many losses in our lives. No matter how much we deny, or cling to fantasies that all will remain as it is, change is inevitable.
Is there anything at all that remains with us? Perhaps there is……
“Love is really the only thing we can possess, keep with us, and take with us.”
Lovers In Pink. Marc Chagall. Wikioo.
For Nothing Is Fixed, by James Baldwin
For nothing is fixed,
forever, forever, forever,
it is not fixed;
the earth is always shifting,
the light is always changing,
the sea does not cease to grind down rock.
Generations do not cease to be born,
and we are responsible to them
because we are the only witnesses they have.
The sea rises, the light fails,
lovers cling to each other,
and children cling to us.
The moment we cease to hold each other,
the moment we break faith with one another,
the sea engulfs us and the light goes out.
© Linda Berman.