Many of us have a self-centered attitude towards change. We think it’s all about doing it ourselves. You remember some of the old clichés? “Lift yourself up by your bootstraps”–“If you want to move a mountain, you’d better bring a shovel”–“God helps them that helps themselves”
I’m sure you could add a few of your own.
We cling to these slogans like they’re the truth, some sort of folksy wisdom passed down from generations before and the essence of the message is: If you want to change something in you, you’re going to have to do it yourself.
This is not true. This is a beginner’s understanding of what real change is. You see, when we try to change ourselves by our own methods, we simply give renewed energy to the ideas and perspectives that already are not working. We tend to recycle and intensify our problems. We become frustrated and discouraged.
Learning/changing/growing all do require action and effort on our part. One of the first elements of sustainable change is the letting go of the idea that it is a solo endeavor. All by ourselves we tend to find reasons to procrastinate; reasons to take short cuts; reasons to focus on what we think is going wrong (and thus discourage ourselves) and we will completely discount the incremental positives and progress that might and should be encouraging us.
New Year’s resolutions fade by February.
The mind that is reading a self-help book is the very mind that is already deciding, while it is reading, what will and will not apply, what will and will not work. For itself and by itself.
We can only start down the path of genuine change when we are open and honest with someone who is walking the same road with us. It is in the dynamic, live, real time back and forth exchanges that we discover what we would truly like to change and how we might move in that direction.