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The Art of Changing

 

 

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Exceprt from a pastor's sermon.

One 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.

Pastor from Raytown

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Table of Contents

Preface
Introduction
A Personal Journey
Action
Willingness
Stay Focused on Yourself
Stumbling Blocks
The Process of Changing
Change Your Mind; Change Your Life
Facing Your Shortcomings
Getting Help
The Power of the Group
The Power of Therapy
Healing the Wounds of the Past
Parenting Yourself
Building Self-Esteem
Desperately Seeking Susan
Amazing Grace
Treating Depression
Forgiving Others
Forgiving Yourself
Helping Others
The 12-Steps
Progress—Not Perfection
Conclusion
Universal Woman

Preface

For 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.

Introduction

There 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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