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Moving Mountains/Magical Choices For Empowering Your Life's Journey
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Chapter 3
By Dr. Steve Frisch, Psy.D.

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The Forces of Empowerment Or The Forces of Imprisonment-

“How does one become a butterfly?” she asked.
"You must want to fly so much that you
are willing to give up being a caterpillar.”
- Trina Paulus

I remember the day she came in to see me. I was doing some psychological evaluation tests on volunteers to get my masters degree and Pistol had agreed to help. Pistol isn’t her real name, it’s just something I started calling her after we met. She was younger than my other volunteers, maybe 19. And the conversation went something like this.

"Hi,” I said.


“Thanks for coming in, I would like to ask you some questions,” I said.

“Oh, this is one of those tests isn’t it. I can’t stay long, and don’t analyze me. OK?” she said.

“It’s just a few questions,” I offered. “Nothing too serious.”

“I bet you guys say that to all of us. Well, I’m not falling for it. This sucks. You and all of your tests.”

“OK. First question ... do you ...”

“I changed my mind, I don’t want to do this. This stinks. I hate when people ask me questions.”

“That’s all right, we can stop if you want to,” I said.

“Yes, I want to stop.” She looked down. “This always happens to me. I start doing something I want to do and then I get scared. Then I back out and feel guilty about being there in the first place,” she mumbled as she talked. “I think this is connected somehow but I just can’t put the pieces together.”

“Well I’m only here to ask you questions, but I think you may be right. If you think there is a connection, there probably is one, even if you can’t see it.”

“I backed out of going to my Grandmother’s funeral. I quit a job after only two days. And, I run out on every boyfriend who gets too close. So far I count three guys I’ve left,” she said. “I think these events all have something in common, but I don’t know what. It’s like I’m pre-programmed to do this stuff, you know what I mean?”

"Yes, I do know, and no, I don’t know what makes you do this stuff. I’m just here to ask some questions, remember?”

“Oh, yeah,” she said. “Do you think I’m right about this pre-programming thing. I mean I jump ship on situations that get too tight and my dad goes around getting hurt and dumped by every woman he dates. I call that his M.O., you know, that’s Latin, for modus operandi. It’s his pattern. And he keeps repeating it, over and over again.”

“I know lots of people who do the same pattern over and over again. You’re right about that,” I said.

“I thought so. Hey, this psychology stuff is easier than I thought. Go ahead and ask your questions, Steve.”

Pistol’s plight is one so many of us face. We are aware of the patterns of our life, but we feel powerless to do anything about the grip these patterns hold on our lives. It’s almost as if there is some invisible forcefield that is shaping the direction our life takes. 

It is my most fervent belief that we all can create a life of personal freedom and empowerment. We can create such a life through understanding what the components of this forcefield are and how to transform the influence of those components from self-limiting to life-expanding.

And that’s what we long for in our lives. We all are seeking a life of purpose and meaning. We derive such purpose from the choices we make on a moment-by-moment basis. These micro-choices serve to construct a life of empowerment, purpose and fulfillment, or a life of quiet despair.

In fact, I refer to this invisible forcefield as our personal blueprint. A blueprint from which the patterns of our life unfold. This blueprint is made from the very fabric of who we are. The combined influences of our personal choices, our style of thinking, the types of action we take, and the impact on our emotional well-being from the obstacles on our journey, all mold our personal blueprint.

We can alter our lives by overcoming the obstacles in our path. We overcome the obstacles in our path by creating different choices for ourselves. We can create different choices for ourselves through combining different thinking with different action.  

But it’s not just any kind of thought or any kind of action we need to combine.

We need to develop a specific mindset and combine it with some specific ways of thinking about the events of our life. This is the formula for creating a new way of thinking.

We need to harness the power of action. Not any kind of action, however. The type of action that enables you to go one step beyond your zone of emotional comfort. We call that risk-taking. This is the formula for a new way of being.   

The true beauty of our personal power is in our ability to consciously decide to better understand our personal blueprint. By better understanding our personal blueprint, we can alter it and increase the amount of influence we assert in all areas of our life. 

The following story is a good example of how blind loyalty to our personal blueprint constricts our life experiences as we ignore all the choices that are available to us.

My mom has a fish pond outside her house. She stocks this pond with her favorite fish. A couple of years ago I came across some exotic fish I thought would be a great addition for her pond. Boy, was she excited when I showed her the fish I bought for her! 

Well, we went outside to transfer them from the tiny bowl I had brought them in to their new home in the fish pond. While we let them go, my mom was bringing me up-to-date on her favorite stories about the other fish that were in the pond as well as stories about  her finch bird-feeder.

While she was talking to me, I noticed something strange about the two new fish. They were swimming in one corner of the pond in the same exact pattern as if they were still in the tiny bowl in which I had brought them to their new home. 

I thought to myself how odd that was. Here they had been freed to swim in a much larger environment with other fish. Yet, they stuck to their old pattern of swimming, as if they were still in the tiny fish bowl.

I thought about this for a second. It struck me how those two fish were just like you and me and our loyalty to our own personal blue-print. From our own personal blueprint, we develop our own routine, our own comfort zone, our own habits and patterns, and seldom travel beyond them, whether we have the opportunity or not. We often choose to hideout in our own little part of the world, to stay stuck in our habits and routines, though often times it leaves us feeling isolated, unloved, anxious, and depressed.

Personal empowerment is the tonic that will free anyone from the habits and patterns to which we are slaves. These patterns of behavior keep us locked in our self-imposed prisons. We remain mired in a life that takes us further from who we want to be. Our life remains a mere reflection of other people’s will rather than our own personal choices.


What follows is the premise for the program I have created to illuminate the path to personal empowerment for thousands of people just like you. Do not let the size of this tip scare you away from it. Understanding the tip and enacting it in your life will change your life forever.    


Yes, this one is a mouthful. I promise there are no more like this one in the book.

I have a friend who says it much better than I.

“Steve,” he would say, “if you choose to always think what you’ve always thought, and if you choose to always do what you’ve always done, then you will always get what you’ve always got.”

I hope this formula comes to mean as much to you as it has to me. This formula is a powerful mechanism of growth that will enable you to develop a life that empowers you rather than imprisons you.


The purpose of this book is to illuminate the path that will take you from here to there. To accomplish this goal, it is critical for you to clearly define from where you are starting and to where you want to get.

The following is a very powerful exercise I first discovered in Human Change Process: The Scientific Foundations of Psychotherapy by Michael J. Mahoney. This exercise will help to identify a starting point as well as a specific direction for your journey.

I have designed this for you to do only one section at a time, per week, over the course of three weeks. If you feel comfortable, I would encourage you to use this exercise once a month thereafter. You will be absolutely amazed at how your responses change. 

On separate sheets of paper, complete the following sentence stems. These sentence stems should be answered as to how you were, are, and will be on your life’s journey.


Do A through G in Week I:

a) I was ...                               

b) I was able to ...                

c) I liked ...                             

d) I believed ...

e)  I was not ...

f)   I was not able to   ...

g)  I did not believe ...

Do H through N in Week II:

h)  I am ...                                

i)   I am able to ...             

j)   I like ...                                

k)  I believe ...                                                

l)    I am not ...

m)  I am not able to ...

n)   I do not believe ...

Try to list at least five endings for each sentence stem.

Do O through U in Week III:

o) I will be ...                            

p) I will be able to ...                     

q) I will like ...                              

r) I will believe ...        

s) I will not be ...     

t) I will not be able to ...

u) I will not believe ...                                   

Try to list at least five endings for each sentence stem.




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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