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Moving Mountains/Magical Choices For Empowering Your Life's Journey
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Chapter 2
By Dr. Steve Frisch, Psy.D.

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What Hinders Our
Personal Empowerment? -

Life moves on, whether we act as
cowards or heroes.
Life has no other
discipline to impose,

if we would but realize it,
than to accept life unquestioningly.
Everything we shut our eyes to,
everything we run away from,
everything we deny,

denigrate or despise,
serves to defeat us in the end.
What serves most painful, evil,

can become a source of beauty, joy,
and strength,
if faced with an open mind.
Every moment is a golden one
for him who has the vision
to recognize it as such.
- Henry Miller

One day in college, I was sitting in the library. It was one of those sleepy, snowy, winter afternoons. The truth is, I didn’t want to work that day. It was more fun to look out the window and watch the chunky snowflakes making their way to the ground through the tree branches.

Eventually, I went to the old part of the stacks and looked through the books randomly. I found one and started reading. I can’t remember the title, but it was archaic. In spite of the book’s age, I was impressed at what it said. I jotted down a few lines that have stuck with me ever since.

-An empowered life evolves from  reevaluating and expanding your life.

-An empowered life is congruent with who you are and reflects through your life choices the essence of who you are.

-An empowered life reflects the core of who you are -- rather than a reflection of what others have chosen for you to be.

-An empowered life evolves from a mindset of commitment, purpose, and perseverance.

-An empowered life is created through a combination of thought and action.

-An empowered life is built upon the accumulated impact of manageable risk-taking.

-An empowered life is nurtured through  support from the significant relationships you have in your life.

-An empowered life’s ultimate outcome is a life rich with purpose, meaning, and control.

I was amazed at this person’s ability to express so clearly these simple yet powerful principles. I realized although the path of growth and empowerment is a unique, individualized journey for each of us, there are universal principles for personal empowerment applicable to all of us.

Self-imposed limitations create much of the frustration we experience in our lives. Our personal fears create smaller and smaller boxes from which we live our lives. These limitations have eroded our base of personal power and freedom.

The honest truth is we have traded away developing our potential for the illusions of safety, security, approval, and love. The tiny boxes we find ourselves stuck in   reinforce all the things we have chosen to believe about ourselves.

We believe we aren't entitled to a life created by our choices.

We believe our life choices are restricted to what others expect from us.

We believe we are powerless to effect any kind of significant change in our lives.

We believe we are not worthy of being emotionally  autonomous.

We believe we do not deserve relationships that honor who we are.

The longer we cling to these beliefs, the smaller and smaller the box we live in becomes. The longer we deprive ourselves of our birthright, the more we demonstrate how correct our belief system is.

I have always believed you can have love and security without compromising your life choices. By developing personal empowerment, you do not have to lose everyone in your life. Living a life rich of meaning and purpose does not mean you have to forfeit all of your worldly possessions. You can expand yourself and your life without living in fear that it will all be taken away from you.

What we need is a process to literally reinvent the blue-print from which we live our lives. Understanding the influences that create our self-limiting blue-print is a necessary precursor to personal empowerment.

Once we find a way to understand how to recognize where we are and see the restrictive influences within our life, we can create an expanded blueprint for our lives.

I have a friend who is tremendously successful in business today. I’ve written about her before. She loves her job. She makes a great salary and she has an active, exciting social life. And she credits the keys to her empowerment to the things we talk about in this book (although she found them on her own through years of effort).

One afternoon I asked her what her life was like before she figured out the secrets of empowerment.

“Well, I thought everything was fine,” she said. “I had graduated from a small college where I met my husband Ted. He was a history student and floated from temp job to temp job, never finding what he wanted to do.

“I on the other hand,” she continued, “had a secretary position because I could type. Years must have passed, Ted never got a job. He got bitter, I got nowhere at work and our marriage went from awful to worse. One day I realized I was doing everything to make other people happy, yet I was dying on the inside. I struggled to make changes and eventually I discovered the things you talk about in the book. I don’t want to sound too over-the-top, Steve, but that was twelve years ago.

“Today my life does not include Ted. I help direct a company thirty times larger than the one I was a secretary for. Some days I am so happy that I literally begin to cry tears of joy as I have morning coffee. I tell anybody that if I did it, they can empower themselves, too.”

Please indulge me one last story. I talked to a friend about writing this book. I shared with him some conceptual problems I was having with the book and he shared with me some important insights about his experiences with these principles.

He said, “Steve, when you first introduced me to these principles of personal empowerment, I had two very distinct and dramatic reactions. My first reaction was, ‘Wow! This all makes so much sense.’ I felt excited, elated, and hopeful, all at once!”

My friend continued, “Then I felt an incredible sinking feeling as I realized the depth of what needed to take place in order for me to get there from here. A pervasive sense of  being overwhelmed quickly dashed my feelings of elation and hope. I thought to myself that this may work for others but it is too much for me to do.

“Steve, it was almost as if you handed me, one piece at a time, three hundred parts to an automobile engine. You explained each part clearly and succinctly to me and then told me to go ahead and put the engine together.

“I didn’t think you could get any more outrageous, but my jawed dropped because of what you told me next.

“I will never forget my reaction when you told me that ‘The most important thing to do is to just get started. Don’t worry about understanding how the parts relate to each other.’

“You said, ‘Just as it takes two sticks to rub together in order to start a fire, all you really need to do is just find two principles that seem understandable and manageable to you and start there. The rest will somehow fall into place as you keep adding new experiences to what you started with.’

          “I thought that was an awfully cavalier attitude for something so important. But, you know what? That is exactly how it worked for me. I started with a couple of the principles that felt safest and most comfortable, and things just started to pick-up steam from there.

“Honestly, Steve,” he said, “I haven’t mastered all the different principles, but what a difference the ones I have become comfortable with have already made. There are some principles I don’t like or agree with -- they’re just not all for me. But, that’s the beauty of your system. There are so many different ways to get there from here. I was able to do it in a way that was safest and most comfortable for me.”

There was one last thing I was wondering about so I asked him, “What does personal empowerment mean to you?”

His forehead wrinkled as he pondered that question for a moment. He then looked at me and said, “You know, that has really changed for me. When you first explained these different principles, I viewed  personal empowerment as the miracle I had been searching for. I thought of it as this huge way of being different. I thought of it as something I had to grow into being.

“What I believe it to be now is the cumulative effect of a series of small victories that has added up to an indescribable feeling that is the combination of happiness, fulfillment, disappointment, setbacks, and overcoming any challenge.

“I think of myself differently. I see myself differently. I carry myself differently. People treat me differently.

“These series of small victories have embedded in me the belief that I am equal to any challenge. My spirit is a formidable resource I can use under any circumstance with any person.

"Most importantly, at the deepest gut level, I am able to look fear in the eye and not have to back down from it anymore. I now have an assortment of tools with which to handle any person or circumstance on my journey.” 

Let me conclude with some advice that has guided me for years and never let me down once as we begin our journey together.

A bit of advice

given to a young Native American
at the time of his initiation:
“As you go the way of life,
you will see a great chasm.
It is not as wide as you think”
                      -Joseph Campbell



Dr. Steve Frisch, Psy.D. is a clinical psychologist in private practice in
Chicago, Illinois and Northfield, Illinois.

You can contact Dr. Frisch, Psy.D. at drfrisch@aliveandwellnews.com  or at
(847) 604-3290.

Recover from 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. Frisch’s, Psy.D. Recovery book series.


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