Empowering change for a healthy, meaningful and purposeful life

We are not forever bound by the circumstances of our birth or the occurrences of any particular moment and can, if we so choose and if we know how, reinvent ourselves and our futures. ~ Chris Majer; The Power to Transform ~


Our greatest reason for not giving ourselves permission to change and grow is fear. We buy into the illusions that if we step out to change our lives; we may fail, it may not work the way we believe it will, uncertain how it all will unfold, and/or the amount of time and energy it may take for us to move through the process of change. In his book, The Power to Transform – 90 days to a new you, Chris Majer reports how our fears rule our lives in that:

  • We allow our fears to compromise our deep rooted values and beliefs
  • We have neglected, abandoned, and forfeited our dreams
  • We have allowed ourselves to settle for a less satisfying and unfulfilled life

A life without meaning, without purpose, is a life that is unsatisfying. Contrary to this, life is a beautiful motion where there is meaning, purpose, and overall sense of fulfillment.  Granted, there are many books, DVD’s, CD’s, workbooks, and seminar’s one may invest in. However, what is more practical and idealistic is to come to a place where we start examining our own lives and determine where we have failed, limited, and even prevented any successful meaning and purpose. We are merely responsible for the unsatisfying life we presently are experiencing.

In this article, we will explore key principles that may help lead to a radical transformation where one experiences an empowering life. These key principles may help move an individual to develop ways to create a narrative where there is life meaning and purpose.

Since we are awakening to our own unfulfilled and unsatisfying life, there is the desire to change. Many believe change is to start becoming happier. Along with this, many buy into the false ideology of “fake it until you make it.” One who lives in misery, see their lives as an existence of emptiness, can no more fake happiness than someone struggling with meeting basic needs and have little to no money has the capacity to fake being rich.

An empowering and radical change of our present state of existence and experience is an internal transformation.

Majer provides this insightful definition of transformation:

A specific, powerful process by which {one} makes a dramatic, lasting change in {one’s} life in a very short period of time.

And, his definition of internal transformation:

A rapid and substantial change in who you are, how you experience life, what you are capable of, and what you may accomplish.

Majer, then, refers to the ideology of Dr. Fernando Flores work where humanity existences in a continuum of narratives they create through body, language, and emotions; and, how these are interdependent with one another in defining reality. For Majer, this leads to the creation of a life that is unfulfilled, without meaning, without purpose, and a life that is missing passion, joy, love, and connections. A life that is examined in light of negative narratives that are the basis of one’s perspective and perception.

According to Chris Majer, authentic and trans-formative change comes when a person:

  • Place oneself on the line
  • Step out of one’s comfort zone
  • Takes necessary risks associated with transforming their lives

Majer asserts that this type of change is a threat to our present state of thinking and feeling. Despite how much our desire to want to change is, our present perception limits our ability to actually make the steps toward change because it does not fit within the narrative we have created.

1. Awareness of our own decay and deficiencies

Drawing on my own religious upbringing and Christian faith, one specific passage of scripture comes to mind. It is when Christ is speaking to the religious leaders of his day. Teachers of the Judaic laws and customs. In Matthew 23:27, we read:

“Woe to you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! For you are like whitewashed tombs, which outwardly appear beautiful, but within are full of dead people’s bones and all uncleanness.” (English Standard Version)

Like these religious leaders in the First Century, many people today are merely adorned with what we deem to be good behavior, virtuous characteristics, and even attractive. However, if one were to pull aside the veneer, we see that deep within the heart of most of us, we are dead inside. We are full of unclean thoughts, toxic emotions, biased opinions and judgments. We are quick to judge and scorn others for their perceived hypocrisy, apparent “bad behavior” and failure to comply with present day social standards. Any sense of joy, any passion, any love, and connection we may possess is merely a shallow expression of “keeping up appearance.”

Inevitably, we fail to see the reality of our own decaying and unrealistic expectation of self, others, and life. Our own personnel narrative is to look good inside, when we are slowly decomposing internally. What is it we are full of?

  • Dead values and beliefs
  • Dead authentic self
  • Dead dreams and passions

What is even more interesting is that death is merely the absence of life. When we are dead inside, we have no life meaning and purpose. This may lead to feeling angry, depression, anxiety, injustice, resentful, and even envious and entitled. It may even debilitate us in reaching any meaningful potential in moving beyond past hurts and disappointments.

Realizing our own present narrative helps move toward cleaning out the decay and decomposing false illusions we have. These are based on false presumptions, negative values, and negative beliefs.

This may be the reason behind why some people, when their true self is brought to light, they prefer to remain in the darkness. It is because the light of awareness exposes the toxicity that lies within our own heart.

However, it is not the act of awareness concerning our own internal decay of authentic values and beliefs. What may move us toward the journey to elicit radical transformation and change is complete and total acceptance of who we are as individuals. This occurs when we have come to the end of our “rope” and experience humility. This is because:

  • Humility is experienced when we have reached the end of self
  • Humility is recognizing the need for change and accepting reality for what it is
  • Humility is the ability to reach out and accept necessary help
  • Humility is the ability to come to a place of forgiveness
  • Humility is the act of embracing and recognizing who we truly are

Through humility, we are able to embrace our true soul, reconnect with our authentic self, and desire to make necessary changes that reflect our true values and beliefs.

2. Radical Acceptance – Accepting life on life’s terms

Once we have come to see who we truly are, have the courage to step out of the darkness of our own narrative that has imprisoned us, and have come to a sense of humility; we are able to now accept life on life terms. Yet, what does this mean?

In order to understand this, we may want to come to realize that many of us operate under the narrative of three main false beliefs. Albert Ellis referred to these beliefs as “musts”:

  1. I must do well and win the approval of others or else I am no good
  2. Other people must “do the right thing” or else they are no good and deserve to be punished
  3. Life must be easy, without discomfort or inconvenience

These are inflexible and irrational beliefs that drive us into experiencing emotional distress and suffering. It also establishes a rigid idea that unless people or life changes, we are unable to change and therefore blame others and/or life. Ultimately, the heart of our own suffering is the inability to accept the reality of life because we do not want to accept what is actually true. Instead, we resist reality based on our own perception and beliefs in how our internal sense of reality (or defined narrative) is in conflict with the true external reality of life.

And yes, life can, and always proves, to be quite painful for many people. This is not to delineate such painful experiences. And yes, no one ought to experience such painful situations; however, the reality is, pain is part our human experience. This is summarized in one of the most significant religious texts:

For it must needs be, that there is an opposition in all things. If not so, my firstborn in the wilderness, righteousness could not be brought to pass, neither wickedness, neither holiness nor misery, neither good nor bad. Wherefore, all things must needs be a compound in one; wherefore, if it should be one body it must needs remain as dead, having no life neither death, nor corruption nor incorruption, happiness nor misery, neither sense nor insensibility. ~ 2 Nephi 2:11 ~

There is a sense of duality in our experience. In order to understand and experience Joy, we must also understand and experience Sorrow. Without Joy, there is no sorrow. Because, the idea is that sorrow is the absence of Joy.

However, coming to a humble and real sense of acceptance helps us resolve our present struggles and suffering. Writing for Psychology Today, Karyn Hall, Ph.D writes:

Accepting reality is difficult when life is painful. No one wants to experience pain, disappointment, sadness or loss. But those experiences are a part of life. When you attempt to avoid or resist those emotions, you add suffering to your pain. You may build the emotion bigger with your thoughts or create more misery by attempting to avoid the painful emotions. You can stop suffering by practicing acceptance.

This does not mean we come into agreement with our present suffering. What this means is we accept the present state of our experience for what it really is. It also helps when we move out of our illusion of control. I, personally, will go further and say that it is not merely accepting the present situation for what it is, it is also accepting our present thoughts and beliefs about the external factors for what they are in relation to what we are experiencing.

Associate Editor at PsychCentral, Margarita Tartakosvky, M.S. writes:

Radical acceptance doesn’t mean any of these things. “It simply means that you are acknowledging reality,” said psychotherapist Sheri Van Dijk, MSW, RSW. You are acknowledging what happened or what’s currently happening. Because fighting reality only intensifies our emotional reaction, she said.

While we may not have the power to alter the present situation, we do have the ability and power to alter our own way of thinking, challenge our beliefs in relation to the stimulus of the present moment, and therefore change how we may typically respond. This is where we come to understand Radical Acceptance.

Radical essential refers to that which is complete, total, and even extreme. A more appropriate understanding is “origin, essential, root”. In other words, radical acceptance is the idea of accepting life from the core essential root of who we are. This involves understanding our own beliefs and values and how we understand who we are in relation to life events.

3. Radical Surrender – Letting go of our false ideologies, illusions of control, and biased judgments and prejudices

Moving from the concept of radical acceptance, we come to understand the nature and purpose of radical surrender. This is an action we take. It is a risk where we step out of our own comfort zone and place our own narrative perceptive beliefs and values on the line. We may not know what will unfold, how it may unfold; or, what consequences will occur as we step out of our fears and into the light. By embracing and moving forward toward radical transformation, we are able to empty ourselves out in order to begin to be filled with new values, new beliefs, and understanding who we are.

What is it we are radically surrendering? I believe these are the following illusions we root out of our soul:

  1. Illusion of control
  2. Biased judgments and prejudices
  3. False ideologies about self, others, and life
  4. Unrealistic expectations
  5. Fears that limit our ability to self-actualize our true potential
  6. Excuses and criticisms of self, others, and life

In Christian terminology and surrender, a person who truly experiences the real true grace of Christ and sees themselves for who they are, completely and totally accepting of the redemptive power of the cross, begin to empty themselves out in order to be filled with His grace and become empowered to transform.

Acceptance is coming to the place of realization and accepting how we arrived at our present situation, what is happening in our present situation, how we are thinking and feeling in relation to what we are presently experiencing. Surrender is the act of letting go of any sense of ego that presents us from finding value and strength in moving through the life experience.

Essentially, we are giving up the fight and resistance to any perceived threat, letting go of our sense of self that our narrative has developed through our ego (as a means of survival); and, promotes a willingness for us to experience a real and genuine transformation. This naturally outflows from our ability to radically accept our present life experience.

4. Radical and authentic transformation begins with the renewing of our mind

Paul, the Apostle, writes in Romans 12:2 the following:

And be not conformed to this world: but be ye transformed by the renewing of your mind, that ye may prove what is that good, and acceptable, and perfect, will of God.

All that we do, the consequences of our behavior (good or bad), stem from our values and beliefs, and then how we think and feel in relation to those values and beliefs. This is the reason Christ referred to the fact that it was not the actual act of Adultery that was sinful, or that murder was sinful. These are all behaviors. It is the way one thinks:

If a man looks upon a woman with lust in his heart, he has already committed adultery already – see Matthew 5:28

One of the most interesting passages of scripture is the conversation God has with Cain. Here, Cain is angry that his sacrifice is unacceptable. He is envious, jealous, and angry. God mentions that if Cain does not learn to manage his anger and do well, he will be managed by his anger and that it will ultimately motivate him to behave in a sinful and immoral way. We know the rest of the story, Cain slays Able, and then attempts to hide it.

True transformation begins to understand the language in which we use to communicate our displeasure, disappointments, and ruminate on injustice and wrong doing. Typically, this type of language is automatic and produces limited thinking. They are based on how we define what is considered right as opposed to what is wrong. We follow and conform to the ideology of present social standards. The very basis of our existence is to “prove ourselves” good and worthy to the world by adopting the many differing philosophies. As we want to change our behavior, we are more invested in spending time and energy in hoping to change another person’s behavior to conform to ours.

The reality is, we are to transform the very essence of the way we think and feel. Not buy into the present philosophy of social conformity.

Our mind is complex. It is made up of thoughts that promote sets of emotional values. These, in turn, produce specific behaviors (both physiologically and the specific actions we take) where there is the attached consequences. For example, someone who is angry has a pattern of thoughts on someone having done them wrong. Their rumination over this injustice appears to have posed a threat to their values and beliefs. In turn, this creates hostility, promoting more intense emotions of anger. Eventually, their body naturally responds, and sadly and sometimes tragically, leads to acts of aggression. The consequences is damage to property, damage to a person, and damage to the individual engaged in their outburst of anger.

Transformation is a slow process of change. And, it begins with changing the way we are thinking and feeling. Not to rid ourselves of such intense and powerful emotions, to embrace them, acknowledge them, validate them as part of our human experience. We learn to manage our emotions so they do not become powerful enough to manage us.

Along with this, we are looking at situations, not as problematic obstacles, or blaming others; Instead, we are finding the values and opportunities to stretch and grow ourselves.

From a more personal perspective, and working with people who are overcoming substance use disorders, one truth I have come to understand and know is this: We move out of whatever fears we have, we let go of our illusion of control, we embrace life for what it is, understand our own narrative, and move out of the past and future by being more focused on the present moment and how it impacts us as we are impacting others. It is finding a way to embrace life through our calmness. This occurs as we root deeper and deeper into our personal authentic core values and beliefs, accepting life for what it is, letting go of what we believe should be, and continue to transform by renewing our mind on those things that bring us back to a greater sense of joy.

So, how do we radically transform our lives where we are empowered to live a healthy, meaningful, and purposeful life?

  • Begin to understand who we are and what we are about
  • Find our own life meaning and purpose based on our values and beliefs
  • Develop a way to be of service towards others in a healthy and functional way

Through our own journey of personal transformation to an authentic and true sense of self, we step out of a life of suffering, and move into a life of victory, abundance, and constant change and growth.

The following books are recommended and available at Amazon.com for further reading. To purchase, please click on the link provided.

 

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Radical Acceptance – Tara Brach

For many of us, feelings of deficiency are right around the corner. It doesn’t take much–just hearing of someone else’s accomplishments, being criticized, getting into an argument, making a mistake at work–to make us feel that we are not okay. Beginning to understand how our lives have become ensnared in this trance of unworthiness is our first step toward reconnecting with who we really are and what it means to live fully.
from Radical Acceptance

Radical Acceptance

“Believing that something is wrong with us is a deep and tenacious suffering,” says Tara Brach at the start of this illuminating book. This suffering emerges in crippling self-judgments and conflicts in our relationships, in addictions and perfectionism, in loneliness and overwork–all the forces that keep our lives constricted and unfulfilled. Radical Acceptance offers a path to freedom, including the day-to-day practical guidance developed over Dr. Brach’s twenty years of work with therapy clients and Buddhist students.

Writing with great warmth and clarity, Tara Brach brings her teachings alive through personal stories and case histories, fresh interpretations of Buddhist tales, and guided meditations. Step by step, she leads us to trust our innate goodness, showing how we can develop the balance of clear-sightedness and compassion that is the essence of Radical AcceptanceRadical Acceptance does not mean self-indulgence or passivity. Instead it empowers genuine change: healing fear and shame and helping to build loving, authentic relationships. When we stop being at war with ourselves, we are free to live fully every precious moment of our lives.

What if you could design your future instead of having it just happen to you? The Power to Transform teaches you the strategies corporate, military, and sports leaders have used to do just that for themselves and their organizations! Yes, you can have the life of your dreams—here’s how.

Chris Majer has designed large scale transformational programs for the US Army, and Marine Corps, Amgen, AT&T, Microsoft, Intel, Allianz, and Capital One, and a host of others to revamp the way they do business. Organizations Majer has put through his process have seen measurable and dramatic increases in their performance and profits.

In The Power to Transform, Majer tailors his program to you the individual, sharing the methods he has developed over two decades that have made him one of the leading innovators in the field. The book distills complex philosophical and linguistic concepts into easy-to-use practices that produce transformational change. Readers have reached a plateau in their personal or professional lives know that there is something more to life. They are committed to real change will find considerable power in:

-Building the practices for authentic learning
-Seeing that learning isn’t about “knowing and understanding,” it is the development of “embodied competence”
-Learning how new action, not new thinking, is the cornerstone of change
-Facing down the most daunting challenges and making consistently powerful choices
-Building a practice that will enable you to stay calm while the world around you swirls in confusion