By Natalie Amsden
The following is a typical cycle that most people encounter when they attempt to make changes in their lives.
1. Feeling Discontent
2. Reaching a Breaking Point
3. Declaration You’re Ready to Change
4. Being Faced with Your Fear
5. Developing Amnesia About WHY You Want to Change
6. Backtracking to Old Patterns, Again
Inevitably, you will soon find yourself unhappy and discontent once again. Your level of pain will continue to increase until you reach another breaking point, this time even more extreme and more painful. This cycle will continue until one of two things happen:
1. Extreme Pain—external life catastrophe
2. Self-Honesty—intentional choice to transform
The Five Virtues of Transformation are the five qualities one must develop in order to successfully navigate the transformation process. These virtues are: clarity, tenacity, faith, vision and commitment.
Virtue 1: CLARITY
This step is actually the most difficult and is the most commonplace where people become stuck. With the vast buffet of choices that surround us and the tremendous pressure we feel from our family, friends and society to want what we are told to want, it can be exceedingly difficult to recognize our true desires. By deciding to take a step back from our roles in our families and in society, we begin to see more clearly the deepest longings and impulses of our true selves. Finding clarity of purpose and direction takes awareness of thought and regular self-reflection. If you’re ready to transform your life, the first step is to get clear on your dreams.
Virtue 2: TENACITY
The second step to transformational change is to determine what internal and external obstacles may get in your way, and then tenaciously work around them. Even once they become clear on the direction they wish to go, many people get stuck when they encounter an external obstacle because they either don’t see a way around it or become intimidated or fearful of pushing through it. Other times internal obstacles pop up, include limiting beliefs, hidden emotions, and fear, all of which can easily discourage you or make the anxiety of change unbearable.
When you have identified a desire that is inspirational and worthy of effort, it is your tenacity that will keep you on the path. To avoid the temptation of “change amnesia” potential obstacles need to be rooted out and dealt with in advance, so you are prepared and confident that you will prevail.
Virtue 3: FAITH
The third step to transformational change is to empower yourself. True empowerment comes from within. Many people get stuck when they begin to doubt their ability to change or accomplish their goals. Faith comes from being confident that you will follow through on your decisions and that life will be a cooperative force. If you look back at your past challenges and obstacles and you will see how good always comes from every circumstance that you initially viewed as negative. By remembering times you persevered, overcame, survived, and thrived through intentional or unintentional changes, you’ll prove to yourself that you will, in fact, be successful in your mission of transformation. At the same time, remembering how many times life provided you what you needed in the moment, when the parachute opened just in time, and when everything turned out right in the end, will help instill you with the faith that is needed to stay the course. Take some time to reflect on the curses that turned into blessings in your life and pat yourself on the back for all you have accomplished, knowing that you will co-create the future you desire.
Virtue 4: VISION
The fourth step to transformational change is to strengthen your focus. Developing a powerful vision for your life means taking responsibility for directing your own life movie and rewriting its script. It takes dedication and awareness to mindfully watch and direct your thoughts toward empowering visions of life. Pay special attention to your vocabulary and the perspective you take on your memories, the people in your life, and the possibilities for your future. Know that you always have a choice of how you perceive the world and that by choosing to focus the most positive, inspirational, and powerful option you have in any given moment will create momentum that will pull you toward what you want. Practice mindfulness, study positive psychology, affirm your greatness, and visualize yourself in ease, in gratitude, in joy. To be where you want, you first must see yourself there, consistently.
Virtue 5: COMMITMENT
As Rev. T.D. Jakes says, “You’ve got to throw your WHOLE self in.” By dedicating your whole self to creating the life you desire, you will have the commitment it takes to stop the cycles of pain, disappointment, and dysfunction that you are ready to release.
Transformation cannot exist without commitment, and commitment cannot be successful without self honesty. Preparing yourself by developing the other four virtues will help you become clear on what YOU truly want to commit your life to, be prepared to get the work done, believe in yourself, and see yourself truly in alignment with your dream. Only once you are in this place of authenticity can you truly make a lasting commitment.
Don’t wait until the next economic crash, your spouse to ask for a divorce, your parents to pass away, your boss to fire you, a car accident, a natural disaster, or a nervous breakdown because the same things just keep happening to you over, and over, and over again. Let this moment be the breaking point of inspiration to say,
“Today, I put my whole self in. I am committed to living My life, in alignment with my true self and greater purpose. Today, I walk the path of lasting transformation.”
Natalie, Publisher of Transformation Magazine, has worked with thousands of people seeking to live a life of purpose and genuine relationship with their true selves, others, and their world. She is the former Director of a counseling center for teenagers and their parents. She is also a public speaker and leads workshops and retreats on Practical Spirituality, Finding Joy, Discovering Your Purpose, and Enlightened Relationships. www.transformationservices.org