Significant transformative experiences are life changing and make an enormous difference to the trajectory of one’s life. There are limited opportunities for significant personal transformation presented in a lifetime, although smaller growth moments may present more often. The smaller growth moments may be harbingers of larger changes but are incremental. These opportunities may come to us benignly — because we are receptive to subtle clues and have accomplished a healthy wholeness of self-identity and creative flow — or we are catapulted into a physical and/or psychological crisis that provokes us to make drastic changes. At times, no matter how we are living our lives, how healthy and responsible we are psychologically and physically, we can be tossed out of our comfortable status quo and thrown into the mysteries of the unknown, shocked and upset and have to learn new rules of the game.
How do we recognize the significant opportunities when the potential appears? Sometimes, if we are lucky (having been raised with good-enough parents and/or healthy enough circumstances), or by tremendous grit, we have created circumstances that line us up on a path to receive blessings – we are able to recognize a good thing when it comes our way or sense when lightening strikes within, with an idea. We are receptive and available to be touched by inspiration. We have developed our sensitivity and honed our intuitive skill (as we have developed early on without inhibiting shackles). We are able to see precise clarity of direction; we know with or without a doubt, our next steps. We experience our courage even if we are terrified. We are able to mobilize and take a risk. We know we can take life’s next step; we accept the challenge. The invitation to transformation may come through an illuminating dream, a pivotal event, an influential person, a chance encounter – we are dramatically influenced. We are given an opportunity for transformation, we sense it, know it and we grasp it.
Another way we get clarity is through a life crisis – our established life crashes, sometimes with sudden fury that throws us sky-high then plummets us to the ground with a velocity that flattens our sense of our known life. Anyone who has experienced a natural disaster, a shattering divorce, the break-up of a family, a sudden serious medical issue, a devastating loss of a son or daughter or other family member, unexpected career loss or loss of a cherished home understands the effects of cataclysmic forces of change and the upheaval psychologically and physically that comes with it.
Opportunities for transformation also come in smaller waves, with a subtle sense of drowning nonetheless. Feelings of emptiness can come at anytime; we are not sure what we live for or why we are still alive to face another day. We feel depressed — life is a slog. We might feel waves of anxiety that have taken up permanent residency. Why am I so anxious? What is the cause of this underlying, ever-present anxiety? We are bitten by the nightly insomnia bug and can’t seem to settle. Or we have gained considerable weight and feel out-of-control as we chronically overeat as sugary delights call to us every night. The list goes on, as small waves continue to drown us. We realize we are not breathing — our bodies are in a vise grip of tension.
There are various symptoms we may struggle with: compulsivity (germ phobias, hyper-cleanliness, ritualized behaviors, etc.), constant worrying, fear and hyper-vigilance, preoccupation with one’s health and symptoms, fear of illness, pot addiction, preoccupation with body image, binge drinking, chronic hyperactivity – running with busyness, feelings of low self-worth and inadequacy, lying and lack of integrity, preoccupation with others leading to envy and jealousy, difficulties attaching and trusting others, chronic anger and reactivity, blaming others for our failures, lack of activating our true life goals, fear of self-assertion. The list goes on and on and on.
Can we listen to the softer waves that tell us to take responsibility for our pain and look within? Can we hear the call to face our problems and begin a process of self-examination? We can’t do it alone as we end up repeating our tired defensive habits – as we go round and round in circles – living and repeating our same old coping mechanisms and strategies in a closed circuit. We lack constructive input and the honest feedback necessary for transformation.
Therapy: Vehicle of Transformation
Therapy is a stabilizing, focused path that ensures transformation if you stick with it and take it seriously. As you can see from the examples above, one can enter therapy through the easy access door marked CHOOSE THIS OPTION – a choice to take full responsibility for your life through self-examination, honest assessment, and willingness to face into the darkness and expand to meet the lightest of feelings. The process of therapy defines a course of development that takes you beyond your current status quo, entertains a multitude of options and deepens your experience with the mysteries your life may offer.
The other option you might end-up with is crashing through the therapist’s door headfirst!