The Psychology of Self-Transformation

The mass of men lead lives of quiet desperation Henry David Thoreau made this remark over 150 years ago, however it is an observation that still rings true today Often this desperation is the product of nagging feelings that we are wasting our life Accompanied by the frustration that despite our desire to make something of ourselves the years passed by and nothing seems to change Phillips Brooks commented that those in this predicament feel the thing they ought to be beating beneath the thing they are if We ignore these feelings for too long Then we will remain forever haunted by what might have been in this video we will explore how we can escape from a life of quiet desperation and transform ourselves in a manner more conducive to a fulfilling existence We cannot change anything unless we accept it wrote Carl Jung the first step therefore is to acknowledge that a change in our way of life is needed an Easy way to determine how necessary it is for us to change is To take note of how often we are afflicted by feelings of regret, guilt, anxiety or depression Jung believed that in the overwhelming majority of cases Neurotic symptoms such as these are a direct result of an inadequate approach to life and act as signals communicating the necessity of change It seemed to Jung wrote Yolanda Jacobi in her book the way of individuation that the meaning of neurotic sufferings might consist in their compelling a man to come to terms with the foundation of his being and with the world and thereby to gain a better knowledge of his limits and possibilities Jung thus puts the emphasis on the prospective aspect Giving neuroses a positive meaning and not regarding it only as a burdensome illness according to him it can even act as a stimulus in the struggle for the development of the personality and be paradoxically a curative factor When troubled by these negative emotional states however most people choose to take the easy road Instead of changing their behaviors. They try to dull their feelings or flee from them if possible. They take drugs drink or distract themselves by pursuing mindless pleasures in the long run this only Exacerbates the problem and Jung offered a warning for those who choose this path We may think there is a safe road wrote Jung But that would be the road of death then nothing happens any longer at any rate not the right things Anyone who takes the safe road is as good as dead After accepting that change is needed the question becomes what type of change is most conducive to a fulfilling life in The mid 20th century the psychologist Abraham Maslow set out to answer this question unlike many of his colleagues who devoted most of their time to studying the mentally ill Maslow decided to do the opposite He chose to study those who excelled in life And this led him to an important discovery the healthiest and most flourishing among us are those who are motivated by trends to self-actualization, which Maslow defined as an ongoing actualization of potentials capacities and talents as fulfilment of a mission as a fuller knowledge of and acceptance of the person’s own intrinsic nature and as an unceasing trend toward unity Maslow was so convinced of the importance of self-actualization that he made the following bold pronouncement if You plan on being anything less than you are capable of being you will probably be unhappy all the days of your life But after years of stagnating years in which our bad habits and destructive behavioral patterns have solidified How can we become self actualizers, a quote of uncertain origins, but often attributed to Ralph Waldo Emerson? provides some direction So a thought and you reap an action so an act and you reap a habit so a habit and you reap a character So a character and you reap a destiny The first step is the thought and for those of us striving to live more fulfilling lives This entails the selection of an aim or purpose to our existence for as Maslow pointed out self actualizers are very much defined by a life mission and Making this selection people sometimes get tripped up into believing that this requires the determination of their true passion The problem with this approach is that it overlooks the fact that very often our passions follow the development of our skills Therefore if you are uncertain of where your passions lie it is unlikely you will discover them through thought alone Rather than delaying for too long it is far better to pick something challenging Which sparks your curiosity and not worry about whether it is the perfect choice? With that said the sowing of the thought or the selection of a goal will only be of positive Consequence if we reap the actions and build the better habits, which ultimately move us forward in the pursuit of our aims Having something to aim at is important not so much because of the external rewards achievement of the goal will bring But rather because of the transformation it forces us to undergo Pursuing a challenging goal requires us to leave our comfort zone as we develop new skills cultivate self-discipline and in the process Discover that we are not as helpless as we once thought The problem for many of us, however is that we struggle in moving from the sowing of the thought to the reaping of the actions? Often people blame their inability to take productive action on their anxiety depression fear or a lack of confidence in their abilities Before taking the actions necessary to pursue their aims such people reason perhaps They must first rid themselves of their negative emotions this however is an approach often doomed to fail These negative emotional states are by and large the result of faulty behavioral patterns and the avoidance of facing up to our fears and courageously taking on the challenges in our lives that would lead to personal growth meditation and introspection alone will never cure us of these feelings rather We must learn that we can take purposeful action even when we are feeling anxious depressed or fearful the importance of purposeful action as a cure for our troubled emotions is foundational to Morita therapy, a Japanese school of psychotherapeutic thought as David Reynolds a practitioner of the school explains Realign your life toward getting done what reality sends that needs doing in other words. We advise you to focus more on purposeful behavior Let the feelings take care of themselves what I think you will find is that when you get good at doing? what needs doing in your life the feeling stopped giving you such trouble and Even if your feelings become troublesome when you are involved in constructive activity they remain in perspective Feelings cease to be the whole show The ability to act even when we are not feeling up to it is one of the most distinguishing characteristics of self actualizers for as Thomas Huxley wrote perhaps the most valuable result of all Education is the ability to make yourself do the thing you have to do when it ought to be done Whether you like it or not Furthermore as Maslow wrote in toward a psychology of being self actualizing does not mean a transcendence of all human problems Conflict, anxiety, frustration, sadness, hurt, and guilt can all be found in healthy human beings Therefore, it doesn’t matter who you are or what stage of life You are at negative emotions will always present themselves The question is do you have the courage to act in the face of these feelings or not Those who find such courage will live far better lives than those who cower in the face of their fears for his Emerson wrote do the thing you fear and the death of fear is certain an Effective way to gain the necessary courage to act in the face of your fears is to reflect on the imminence of death The stoic philosopher suggested that those who become more aware of just how brief life is Will be far more likely to live in the most intense and courageous manner possible Striving to take advantage of each moment Steve Jobs who clearly a man of action recognized the power of this method Remembering that I’ll be dead soon. He stated is the most important tool. I’ve ever encountered to help me make the big choices in life Because almost everything, all external expectations all pride all fear of embarrassment or failure These things just fall away in the face of death leaving only what is truly important, remembering That you are going to die is the best way I know to avoid the trap of thinking you have something to lose you are already naked There is no reason not to follow your heart but awareness of our approaching death is a double-edged sword if we delay too long in instituting the changes required to live a more fulfilling life and instead of striving to actualize our potential we fritter away our time then awareness of our mortality will give rise to nagging and increasingly intense feelings of guilt and regret We will have chosen the safe road, which Jung called the road of death And we will spend our remaining days fleeing from the fact that we are wasting our life in her book the way of individuation Yolanda Jacoby provides a warning of what can be expected for those who choose this path any Obstruction of the natural processes of development were getting stuck on a level unsuited to one’s age takes its revenge If not immediately then later at the onset of the second half of life in the form of serious crises nervous breakdowns and all manner of physical and psychic sufferings Mostly they are accompanied by vague feelings of guilt by tormenting pangs of conscience Often not understood in face of which the individual is helpless He knows He is not guilty of any bad deed he has not given way to an illicit impulse and yet he is plagued by uncertainty Discontent despair and above all anxiety a constant indefinable Anxiety and in truth he must usually be pronounced guilty His guilt does not lie in the fact that he has a neurosis But in the fact that knowing he has one he does nothing to set about curing it You