By Dr. Steve
Click Here to Return to
the Table of Contents
We Approach the
Circumstances of Our Life -
We are so anxious to achieve
some particular end that we
never pay attention to the
psycho-physical means whereby
that end is to be gained. So far
as we are concerned, any old
means is good enough. But the
nature of the universe is such
that the ends never justify the
means. On the contrary, the
means always determine the end.
have explored the universal obstacles in our lives. We have discovered how these obstacles
stimulate our own man-made obstacles. But knowing that they are there and working
through their presence are two different things.
this chapter we will talk about some of the ways you can transform the residue of
wrestling with these obstacles into a small garden of hope and personal empowerment.
Before we get too far into this chapter, let me make two points.
there is a side effect from creating the new path you have chosen. It grows out of the
emotional rhythm everyone experiences when starting to transform and empower their life.
Nobody but nobody is immune to it. It affects the best and the brightest people I know. If
you stick at working with what you are starting in this book, you will experience it as
saw it the other day when I was with a good friend of mine, Stephanie Phillips.
Shes two-years old and one of my most cherished teachers. I am always learning
something new when I am with her.
was sitting on the floor reaching for a puzzle piece in front of her. The piece was just
out of her grasp. She could see what she needed. She could see where it was, but she
couldnt reach it at that moment.
small friend moved a little and sat. She tried to reach further but couldnt get what
she wanted. She sat some more. She thought for a while. Then she sat a little longer. Then
my little Stephanie slowly took a deep breath and let out a long deep cry of disgust.
people call what Im talking about frustration. Others call it discouragement. You
may have another name for the negative feelings that come from not being where you want to
be, when you want to be there. But remember, it affects all of us at one time or another,
and you must never underestimate the power of this force in your life.
discouragement is an abiding condition that can seep into the fabric of our existence. It
can be the companion of anyone making the pilgrimage from who they were to who they would
like to be. And it manifests itself in so many ways that sometimes it is impossible to
notice unless you have a guide along the way.
suspect this emotional undertow is responsible for many things that are hard to explain.
It may unconsciously be responsible for those times when a mother shakes her baby in the
aisle at the supermarket. It may be the reason some people sit and stare at the ground all
day in the park near my house. And in the most extreme cases, I think it may be the reason
some people choose to end their lives early.
know these are extreme examples, but I think it is important to remember just how
overwhelming discouragement can be.
second point I want to make is to guard yourself against another little monster. It is not
nearly so dramatic as discouragement, but its equally important. Im talking
about one of the waste products that develop from any soul under construction. Im
talking about cynicism.
is what happens when you abandon creativity and optimism in favor of despair. It can be
really funny to listen to the words of someone who is cynical, but the truth is, most of
the time cynics are just looking for center stage by trading angry remarks at the expense
about the stereotype that artists face. You know, when you get into a discussion of
creative artist, someone will say Well, Ive heard all artists who are good
suffer for their art.
that statement reflects is the conflict and pain involved in any true creative process.
Despair and cynicism are real, honest problems faced by anyone who tries to do anything
new. That includes any creative activity, and transforming your life is the most creative
act of all.
that we have touched on one side of the coin, whats left?
flip side to all of that pain and discouragement is hope. But it is a special kind of
hope. It is personal, it is constructive, and it is fun. The flip side of this all is
inspiration and play.
hope is the joy expressed in a wild- abandon dance in the middle of a driving rain storm.
It is the magic moment when a young girl discovers the surprise of spinning circles in a
long summer skirt for the very first time. It is the joy of a son laughing at the face his
father makes as he peeks over the cereal box at breakfast. And it should be a bigger part
of your life today.
freedom comes from inspiration. Inspiration means giving yourself permission to play.
Inspiration means making time for goofing with
no apparent reason. It is a process you must be willing to invest in. It is a commitment
you must be willing to make.
of the best ways to start the process is to let go of as many of the cynical fragments as
you can and have some fun with this stuff.
have put together some of my own springboards to play and I will share them with you now.
For many of you, I know this will seem awkward at first. You can trust in the fact that
you will get used to it. And it works!
for now, I want you to sit back, roll your shoulders in big circles from front to back
several times and take five, long deep breaths.
the tension in your shoulders? As you feel your shoulders roll, let the tension go. Take
five minutes to allow yourself to relax in that fashion before you go on .
lets move on to five unusual exercises to begin to generate the mindset we want.
of the ordinary things you do everyday and then realize how incredible these
accomplishments really are.
example, if you walk, normally you will walk about three miles in an average day. Yes, if
you add all those trips to the kitchen, bathroom, and out to the car you really cover
about three miles in a day. That means you walk over one thousand miles in an average
year. If you have children or an active lifestyle, triple that number!
examining other aspects of your life. How much of what you have created in your life do
you view as ordinary, routine, even mundane? We all become blinded by our lives, the sense
of routine and ordinariness they take on.
all need to be able to step back and celebrate who we are today and what we are capable of
becoming tomorrow. I am always astounded when what I perceive to be the most profound
examples of courage and creativity are just shrugged off by the people whose lives embody
such a spirit every waking moment of their lives.
simple act of reflection has always been a great source of renewed energy and pride for
me, when I just examine my life -- from where it has come and to where it has the
potential to go if I would just allow it to happen.
all very simple! Honor yourself. Honor all aspects of your life. There really is nothing
ordinary or mundane about who you are.
life is an absolute monument to yourself. Make-up your mind as to what you want that
monument to be and how you can think about what that monument is. We all need to celebrate
who we are before we can embark fully on the journey to discover what we are most capable
The next time you're driving your car, sing your
favorite song. Really loud!
The point of this is important for you to grasp. Music allows us to transcend ourselves.
We cannot experience our personal power without transcending the self-imposed limits we
have created for ourselves. The path to personal empowerment is
paved with spontaneity and feeling connected to the possibilities of what we can become.
The creation and expression of music is the embodiment of that process.
allows us to experience the possibilities of what we are capable of becoming. Music is the
coordinated instrumentation of the collective creativity that lives within all of us.
singing at the top of our voice, we are able to experience a sense of freedom and connect
to the sense of the possibilities that exist for us, if we choose to capture the spirit
that lives in those songs that are nearest and dearest to us. We must continually plug
ourselves into those things that are the embodiment of possibilities. Start with music! It
can be fun and send you on your way!
Make friends with an old person.
value of this exercise is greater than the mere act of doing it. Its
priceless. Some of my most cherished moments have come while interacting with the elderly.
of my friends lives next to a government-supported, assisted-living residence for the
elderly. One day, he walked in and asked how many volunteers they had. The director of the
place looked up and smartly said, Counting you, there would be one.
made arrangements to start and began walking from apartment to apartment introducing
himself. That simple act on a Saturday afternoon has turned into three years of
volunteering. He has made great friends and has amazing stories to tell. From what I can
tell, they have great parties too.
PATHFINDERS EXERCISE -
Affirm yourself and live your affirmations.
have been given a bad wrap. People make fun of their simple nature, but remember, if they
were not so effective, they would not have become popular.
a few minutes, find a spiritually safe place and let down your guard to try these powerful
affirmations. Inhale and exhale five long deep breaths and say out loud:
are miracles everywhere.
deserve the success I want so much.
let go of negative thoughts and embrace the creative.
give myself permission to try.
O.K. to play.
this exercise every morning. It can really have amazing results. I have seen them. As you
get more accustomed to these affirmations, you can add your own special affirmations to
discouragement and despair has deep routes. As children, everything we need to survive is
given to us, otherwise we die. And as children, our
world is fairly small and complete. We
have nothing to compare our existence to--no standards to uphold.
we grow, we see the world around us and we begin to make choices for ourselves. However,
for many of us, the fulfillment and happiness most of us took for granted as children
gives way imperceptibly to despair.
the consequences of that kind of despair can be seen if you know what to look for.
of choosing incorrectly leads to disillusionment, alienation, depression, and anxiety.
Eventually, for most of us, the pain becomes an expected part of our day. After a while,
it goes unnoticed and we lose sight of where we first began.
Then, instinctively, we look for something to make the pain
go away. Most of the time substance abuse, compulsive behaviors such as eating, drinking,
sexing, and shopping are inevitable distractions we turn to in order to fill the holes
left by our despair. It never fails, if you find someone who is a big mess, you will also
find that they are in deep pain.
the helplessness and the passivity that grew from those helpless feelings can give way to
a life of empowerment and growth. The learned helplessness of our childhood no longer has
to permeate our existence as adults.
can envision a place you want to be. You can start to let go of all the toxic parts of
your life. You can leave behind feelings of discouragement and helplessness. You know you
can move forward one step at a time to make these things happen, so do every one of them,
and DO THEM NOW!!
PATHFINDERS TOOLBOX -
The remedy to our discouragement and cynicism is our mindset.
Our mindset can immunize our spirit from the ravages of discouragement and cynicism. Our
mindset is the most potent weapon we have against discouragement. It is our mindset that
allows ordinary people to accomplish extraordinary achievements.
mindset can enable us to lift a burning car off a trapped child. Our mindset can enable us
to run a marathon. Our mindset can enable us to enact countless acts of heroism and
compassion, if we know how to use it for that end.
cannot empower our lives until we change how we think about ourselves and the vastness of
truth is, knowing how to do something to empower
your life is not enough. The fanciest techniques in the world are rendered impotent
without a mindset that recognizes the potential of the possible.
Action without commitment renders your efforts
ineffective and impotent.
point is very simple. Anyone can learn the simple steps to personal empowerment. However,
these steps are rendered impotent without the appropriate mindset. So often we all pay lip
service to the means of personal empowerment without enacting a change in our spirit.
result is always the same: you will feel frustrated and say, This just doesnt
work. Or, This is hopeless. Often your words can become a monument to
frustration and an obstacle often encountered in your future journey.
whats the secret to avoiding this dilemma? It is one of the most provocative yet
valuable challenges anyone can master who is entrenched in the process of growth.
are three tips that will melt the bonds of your discouragement and cynicism. If you can
set your mind to these tips, you will find there is no amount of discouragement that can
come between you and where you want your life to be.
An empowered mindset transforms "I want
to" into "I am willing to."
clinical psychologist I know taught me that when someone trapped in the cycle of failure,
or alcoholism/addiction sits down to talk, they almost always say the same thing.
Doc, they say, I dont want to drink or use drugs.
he told me next will stay with me forever. He said, The best way you can help them
at that moment is to clarify one of the most important principles in the world.
them, he said, I believe you when you say you want to stop, but are you willing to
first, I didnt get the beauty of what he was saying. He went on to explain,
You have to help people understand the difference between wantingness and willingness. You may say you want to lose weight.
But if you are not willing to do what you need to do to lose weight, is wanting to lose
weight going to get you any closer to losing the weight? Are you willing to exercise on a
regular basis? Are you willing to improve your eating habits? Are you willing to give-up
your double cheeseburgers and tacos for skinless chicken breast or turkey
you move onto the next tip, take some time and think about this for a moment. What are all
the things you want for yourself? Go back to school? Learn how to play the guitar? Take up
jogging? Learn how to use a computer? Take that painting class you always wanted to
make a list of each thing you want and what you will have to do in order to have it.
you make the second list, check off after each item on the second list what you are
willing to do. See what you can learn from this exercise.
empowered mindset believes "the only way out is through."
friend in college once looked up at me from across a library table and said, You
know Steve, I cant believe how messed up my life looks sometimes. I was just
thinking about the way my girlfriend and I fight so much, and I hate the way I am. I wish
I could just wake up tomorrow and be a different person altogether.
paused and said, But I dont think that will happen. I think I have to try and
wake up tomorrow and act a little differently. Maybe I can try to change one little thing.
Then the next day I can change another little thing. If I keep it up, in about a year, I
will have changed several hundred little things and I may have a shot at being the person
I want to be. I really believe I cant zap myself out of this situation like magic.
Sometimes, the only way out of a difficult problem is through it.
friend realized that day what we all intuitively understand. This is all a lot of hard
As tempting as it would be to ignore it. As tempting as it would be to do it
differently. As tempting as it would be to have someone else do it for us.
truth of the matter is that the only way out of the circumstances is to go through
whatever it is we have to go through. It is the only way to create the circumstances we
want. It is the only way to create a feeling of personal empowerment in every fiber of our
empowered mindset maintains an unabiding belief in yourself and your journey. Your
unabiding belief is the antidote to discouragement and cynicism.
is the wings upon which our journey flies. Without faith; without the belief there is a
light at the end of the tunnel; without the understanding that you can achieve whatever it
is you can conceive you will experience your efforts undermined by discouragement and
cynicism. Faith, belief, and hope are the most powerful agents of change we have at our
disposal. I have seen those three agents melt peoples shackles, unlock the doors to
self-created prisons, and transform despair into a life of plenty for those who would but
believe in themselves and the power of their own unique journey.
hope you are able to tap into your own well of faith, belief, and hope as well.
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.