The process:

The goal of the process is change. And so, to begin, we'll need to address the following questions:

  • How do people create change in their lives? Or, more precisely:
  • What is the mechanism by which people discover and successfully overcome the barriers and resistances to change and to moving forward in their lives?

A lot is known about psychological change and about overcoming resistance, and in addition, there are plenty of ideas and opinions and theories about how people make changes in themselves and in their lives. My own thinking about these processes has its roots in current research and theory, plus many years of professional experience watching people make changes ranging from small changes to complete life-transformations.

First, the obvious: All change starts with the reality of how things currently are now. Knowing how things are right now without distortion, without embellishment, with truth clearly differentiated from wishful thinking is prerequisite to devising a plan for change. And so our work on change will include, from the start, a process of self-discovery, an exploration of the truth about the self. This document describes that on-going inquiry.

“ The starting-place of all of all psychological work, including work on change, is simply an experience of the Present Moment, of the Now, as well as an experience of the Self, of the Me, as it exists in that Now. This Now is the moment out of which all change arises. Similarly, this Me is the one-who-undergoes-changes. And so my experience of this Me in this Now is central to my ability to formulate and commit to change. It's pretty straightforward: I'm talking about: ”

Me, Now

This is where we begin: With an experience of Me, and of Now. It helps to be explicit about this, to make an effort right from the start to think in this way; it helps to keep things very clear, and very simple.

But in fact, this isn't nearly as simple as it looks. Me is actually quite complicated.

For example: My experience of myself includes a huge collection of ideas and opinions about “Who Am I? ” Included are ideas and opinions about:

  • how I came to be who I am,
  • my strengths and limitations,
  • how well I function and express myself in the world
  • where I'm heading
  • my expectations of success

And so on. You, too, I'd imagine.

I hold some of my ideas and opinions strongly, I feel strongly about them. Others I may hold more loosely, being less sure.

Likewise some of these ideas and opinions about Me are more-or-less consistent across time and situation (for example, “I am male”). Others may arise or recede depending on circumstances, state of mind and the like (for example, “I am happy”).

So some of my ideas and opinions about Me in this Now are probably different (at least subtly so) from the ideas and opinions I will hold about myself in some future Now. Simply: Me Now is different from Me Yesterday.

And all this is true for you, too, and for your Me.

In addition to all my changing ideas and opinions about myself, Me also includes feelings associated with those ideas and opinions. Prominent among these are feelings of self-judgment, feelings that arise out of my opinions about whether there's something wrong with me that needs to be fixed, that is insufficient as I am.

So this is what I mean by Me: It's an experience composed of many elements. Again: Change begins here, with Me, Now with this complex, multi-faceted, ever-changing Me, Now.

These elements ideas, opinions, feelings and self-judgments that constitute the multi-faceted experience of Me are typically woven together by the thinking part of the mind into a story, a narrative. We might call this “The Story of Me”: my autobiography, my story of my life. This narrative is very important, it holds many keys.

The purpose of this narrative is, ultimately, to address a core question, perhaps the core question:

“Who Am I?”

“ Think about it for a moment, think about this question for yourself. Get a sense of Me. Of Now. And then ask: Who are you? Who are you, really? Really, really, really... Who are you? ”

So this is the goal of our core process, the focus of our inquiry. This is our foundational work, and we persist at it. Our more practical, goal-oriented efforts efforts that are aimed at making positive changes, at taking charge of the design of your life arise out of this core, foundational work. And so again: It all begins here:

Me. Now. And the narrative: “Who am I?”

“Who am I?” Why is this question so important? Whether I'm actually consciously thinking about this question in any particular Now or not, it's guaranteed to be present, in each and every Now: It's part of every thought, every feeling, every decision. In every situation in my life, how-I-express-myself in that moment and in that situation is determined, in large part, by the content of this narrative, by how I describe myself to myself. This narrative about Me is ever-present, in every moment, in every Now.

Because Me changes over time, narratives too change over time. My understanding of Me in this Now is at least subtly different from my understanding of Me will be in some future Now.

This is important: Unlike Me and Now, the “Who am I?”-narrative isn't an experience. It's (by definition) a story about that Me-Now experience. And like all stories, it's made-up in the sense that it's a product of the activity of the mind, the story-making capacity of the mind. This narrative, like all narratives, is one step removed from actual experience. Keep this in mind as you continue to think about these narratives...

Maybe my narrative feels right and makes good, intuitive sense to me, has a kind of “of course” feeling to it, feels like an “open and shut case”. That is, maybe my story of Me, my “Who am I” tale, feels complete and coherent and authentic. Maybe my narrative makes me feel good about myself, makes me feel whole, makes me feel real.

Or instead, maybe my story is disjointed, incoherent, “illogical”, incomplete. Maybe my story makes me feel not-so-good about myself.

Whether coherent or disjointed, narratives often also contain wishes and dreams, perhaps even a desire for a different Me (and an altered narrative) in some Future-Now. The desire for change arises out of the gap between things-as-they-are (including Me-as-I-am) and things-as-I-would-wish-them-to-be (including Me-as-I-would-like-to-be).

“ My attitude towards change is rooted in my relationship to this core question: “Who am I?” ”

A coherent narrative is a good thing, a solid psychological structure, a place from which change can be formulated and begun. And so the process of creating and enlivening coherent narratives is important psychological work. On the other hand, incoherent narratives are limiting, self-defeating, confused, lost, disconnected. Incoherent narratives are rarely useful. Incoherent narratives call out for change.

Coherent narratives tend to be persuasive, and thus tend to be attractive to the persuadable mind. Still, coherence and persuasiveness isn't the same as accuracy. Even a perfectly coherent and completely persuasive narrative isn't a True or Definitive narrative: No one narrative can ever represent the only possible way to string the facts together, the only possible way to explain things, the only way to tell the story. All narratives are made-up; we can always make up new narratives. For each Me, there are many different stories that can be told, and many of these are coherent and entirely consistent with the ideas, opinions, feelings and self-judgments that make up the Me, though potentially inconsistent with one another.

So in summary: Some narratives are more plausible than others, but no one narrative can ever be deemed Right. I may have some strong opinions about what's right, but the fact is, I don't know: There are lots of different ways to string elements together into a story.

I am the author of many of these narratives, each narrative representing a different facet of Me. I am the teller of many stories, the holder of many narratives. And I revise them as circumstances, feelings and opinions change. And I meet others who will exchange energy with me, develop representations of me, and thereby offer their own narratives, perhaps versions I never thought of before. Which narratives are true? Which are real, which are false? How can I ever tell?

And if all change starts with Me, Now and the narrative, we're faced with this: Which narrative? Which story? Different stories mean different starting places. Where do we begin?

Do you ever get the feeling that you're faking it, that you're acting, that the person you're dedicated to being in your everyday life isn't really and truly You? Do you ever get the sense that you're playing a part, pretending to be who you think you're supposed to be, or who you want to be, or who you think someone else wants you to be? Do you ever feel like you're one person in some situations, and another person in other situations? Do you ever get the sense that the person you pretend to be - the character you play - is just that, like a character in a play? Do you ever feel like the whole thing is an act?

Since no one narrative can ever be the only plausible way of understanding the ideas, opinions, feelings and self-judgments that make up the Me, it follows that all narratives are more or less Untrue. The feeling of inauthenticity described in the previous paragraph is a common phenomenon, are a natural by-product of narratives that are inherently untrue.

Maybe you're aware of the character you play, the drama you play it in, the act. Maybe, deep down, you're tired of pretending. Maybe you you'd drop it if you knew how. Maybe you sincerely want to be real.

Maybe you want to live your life as an expression of your highest and most deeply-held values. Maybe you want to live a life where you have an experience of satisfaction, an experience of knowing who you are, what you want, going after it, getting it. Maybe you sincerely, sincerely want to be real.

If the aim is change, if the goal is to create the life we want: Where do we begin? Which narrative serves as the foundation for our work on change? What's real, what's the truth?

Here's how I believe I can help:

“ The way to the truth and the way to getting more out of life are the same. It starts here, before the narrative, with Me, Now.”

My goal is to help you to attune yourself, and to stay tuned in, to your experience of Me, the truth of what's present, Now. My goal is to help you to stay fully present, fully accepting of all parts of yourself. My goal is to help you to establish and stay in relationship with every feeling, thought, impulse and sensation, including those that might seem somewhat threatening or difficult.

My goal is to help you to attune yourself, and to stay tuned in, to the narrative, to the processes that contribute to its construction, to its coherence, to its helpfulness. I will help you to remember that the narrative is arbitrary, your choice, your construction. I'll help you to remember that all narratives are at best incomplete, so inherently false. I'll help you to choose your narratives, to fortify helpful and coherent ones, and to reject those that are unhelpful or incoherent.

And from within this context, we explore together how you're creating your life: What you're experiencing, what you would like to be experiencing. We aim to discover who you really are and what you really want, and then we set goals and make plans when action is called-for. We notice what tries to get in the way. We stay committed and accountable.

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