By Dr. Steve
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There Has To Be A
But there is
another way that the discipline of psychology can be put to use. It is in helping answer
the question: Given that we are who we are, with whatever hang-ups and repressions, what
can we do to improve our future.
- Mihaly Csikszentmihaly
traveler once asked a farmer for directions to a nearby town.
farmer replied, Well, after you go down the road for three miles, turn right at the
fork in the road. No, that wont work.
dont you try turning around and driving for a mile until you get to the gas station,
then turn left... the farmer continued. No, that wont work either.
farmer paused, deep in thought and said, You know what, my friend? You cant
get there from here!
of course we know this isnt true, you can always get to where youre going. You
just have to know what principles to follow to get to where you want to be in your
clinical psychologist, I often work with people who are seeking to get there from here.
How about you? From where are you starting and where is it that you want to be?
you feel like a second-class citizen?
Do you feel as if you have no
control over your life at work or at home?
Do you back down to keep the
peace rather than assert yourself?
Do you feel as if life is a
catastrophe always seeking you out?
Do you feel as if you are more
adept at enduring your unhappiness rather than creating your own well-being?
Do you feel as if you are
always at the mercy of somebody elses good-will in order for you to get your
emotional needs met?
Do you feel at work as if you
do your work and the work of your co-workers as well?
Do you feel as if you are
emotionally drowning from all the responsibility you take on in your life?
Do you turn to substances such
as food, drugs, or alcohol to gloss over the pain you are experiencing?
Do you wish you could regain
control of your life from those who seek to run it for you?
all are searching for ways to get there from here. Our life is a journey of searching,
stumbling, becoming stuck, overcoming obstacles, mastering ourselves and our world, and
growing beyond our self-imposed limits.
all seek ways to expand our lives through maintaining our emotional well-being, creating a
life rich with purpose, and empowering ourselves to live life on our terms.
all are seeking to create a life in which we feel autonomous. We long to feel liberated
from all the influences that hold us back, as well as create the circumstances that will
support our continued development.
all are seeking to create in our life an atmosphere of control--that we are the captains
of our ship. We long to develop a feeling of accomplishment and achievement in our lives.
all are searching for ways to develop meaningful relationships with people. We long for
relationships in which we feel valued and cared-for.
universal principles of personal empowerment presented in this book are the embodiment of
how you can get there from here!
empowerment is not just a catchy phrase. Personal empowerment is a life force. It is the
process through which we can emancipate, elevate, and expand our lives. It is the process
of thought and action combined that moves people along in their personal journey. This
book identifies specific concrete principles you can apply to any specific life challenge
personal empowerment is more than just a life force. It is a state of mind, an attitude
toward life. As an attitude, it communicates courage, adaptability, an eagerness and
willingness to experiment and grow. This attitude embodies a spirit of purpose, direction,
empowerment is an emotional state. It is a state of well-being and self-confidence that
enables you to overcome obstacles and develop a sense of mastery over everyday challenges.
We recognize this emotional state when we feel self-reliant, autonomous, and in control of
our life. We see it in our life when we experience life as balanced in terms of
manageability, control, growth, fulfillment, and challenge.
it is even more than all of these things. Personal empowerment describes both who you are
and what your life is becoming. Personal empowerment connotes confidence, pride,
assertiveness, accomplishment, and being at ease with yourself. As a descriptor of your
life, it connotes a life balanced with purpose, meaning, accomplishment, and emotional
my question to you is simple. Is your life shaped by your dreams, hopes, wants, and
desires? Or is it built on the expectations of others? Do you live your life as a bold
adventure or in fear and timidity?
many people grapple with these questions.
I know the principles I present to you in this book will liberate and empower you from
whatever trap in which you may currently find yourself ensnared.
thats what its all about. You grow. You continue to grow. And when you feel
empowered, the tides move in new directions, you let go easier, you move with the
currents, you are no longer paralyzed by so much fear and anxiety. You may still
experience the pain of fear and anxiety, but you will no longer be frozen in it,
fixed in it, unable to see whats going on around you. By developing personal
empowerment your life will change. You will be able to go with the tides instead of
drowning in them.
you start to see yourself putting things in black-and-white terms, when you find yourself
suffocating in a situation where you dont see any other options, you will be able to
know how to step back and reframe it. This will mean a great deal in the simple day-to-day
stuff of life. You will no longer have a bad day before most people even make it to work!
You will no longer have to look at things so stubbornly, so
single-mindedly, so one-way. You will know what to do. You will know how to back-off of
something, look away, or step back long enough to gain another perspective. As soon as you
find one other point of view, its a lot easier to see a third, and a fourth, and the
multitude of perspectives that exist in every moment of every situation.
know what you want for yourself in your life. You know where you are today in relationship
to where you want to be. The thing you are seeking is a bridge between those two points.
That bridge is embracing the process that propels you forward on your journey.
principles for personal empowerment embody the bridge which is the very life force that
can get you there from here.
young woman came to see me for the first time. She walked into the office, looked around
and sat down in the black leather chair in the corner. After about two minutes of
composing herself, she began to talk.
never been to a clinical psychologist before. But I need to talk to someone.
of what I need to say may not make any sense, but I came to you to make some sense of it
all, so here goes, she said.
I was at work. My friend, Sue, had been unkind to me at lunch. She picked on the color of
my blouse and the way my hair looked.
around three oclock, my supervisor came up to me and told me that we had more work
this week than last week. He asked me to work later and come in earlier until Friday.
later came back to tell me that no one else could come in and help, so I should plan on
coming in on Saturday too. I sat there when he left, put my pen down, and started to
looked into my eyes with intense determination and said, It was right then that I
realized that I had had enough. Something inside said Stop! I thought of
how all my life I have done stuff because other people have asked me to do it. I ate all
my food as a kid, because my Mom said to. I wore special clothes because my Daddy liked
them. I hung out with friends and acted like they acted.
somewhere I got lost. I let my husband have too much control in our marriage. I love my
children but sometimes things are out of balance with them.
was amazed at this womans presence of mind.
I was a little girl, I was scared that if I did not do what other people wanted me to,
they would not like me any more. Deep down, I was afraid they would leave and I
would be alone.
this time she was crying and talking at the same time, so her words were more difficult to
when this guy at work wanted me to stay late, she said, and when I thought he
asked me because I was the easiest to push around, I realized that if I ever have a chance
to change, its now.
had found a moment of clarity in a lifetime built around accepting the will of others. I
have to find out who I am, she said. And Im willing to work hard to do
told her I was amazed and proud of what she had done in my office that day. By being
pushed into questioning the reasons for the choices she made in her life, she had taken a
huge step toward changing the quality of her existence.
For many of us, life has been a constant parade of backing down, and letting fear make
decisions for us. In any given situation, we may pick the choice that ensures momentary
relief but may promote long-term pain. And in doing so, we compromise part of ourselves.
often, we have our personal power taken from us or we give it away. We settle for a life
where endurance of pain is valued over the joy of personal freedom. Subjugation and
obedience replace personal freedom and empowerment.
you are like the thousands of people I have met throughout the years, you share the same
hopes, dreams, and frustrations they possess. And moreover, you possess the same capacity
to empower your life by embracing these very simple principles of empowerment, as they
have done before you.
chemical dependency and its toxic impact on family members. Raise your
children to choose to be alcohol and other drugs
free. Learn how
to in Dr. Frischs, Psy.D. Recovery book series.