Self-Transformation: The Most Powerful Way to Get Unstuck



“God grant me the serenity to accept the people I cannot change, the courage to change the one I can, and the wisdom to know it’s me.” — Unknown

The best advice I got from one of my manager’s long ago was, “change yourself first.”  His rationale was simple: You’re the only one you can change, and the fastest thing you can change in any situation is yourself.

Self-transformation is the key to getting unstuck.

Changing others is tough.  You can inspire, motivate, cajole, or influence others, but at the end of the day, changing yourself is the fastest way to change your results.  After all, you control your attitude and your actions.

“Change yourself first” is really a variant of the idea, “focus on what you control, and let the rest go”, but it’s a very effective one.  Rather than play “the blame game” or point fingers, or wish somebody was different, or wish the situation was different, you can change yourself.  (As Tony Robbins reminds us, you can change your perception or change your procedure.)

I was looking for a good write up about this idea, and one fell into my lap.  It’s an excerpt from the book, The Undefeated Mind: On the Science of Constructing an Indestructible Self, by Alex Lickerman, M.D.

Self-Transformation is the Key to Victory

We get unstuck when we change ourselves.  It’s our transformation that sets us free, and leads to our personal victories.  Dr. Lickerman writes:

“According to Nichiren Buddhism, I told Tanya, when facing a problem we don’t know how to solve, the key to victory lies in self-transformation.  That we don’t know how to solve a problem doesn’t mean it’s not solvable; it means we can’t solve it if we remain as we are.”

It Doesn’t Need to Be Dramatic

Self-transformation doesn’t need to be a big deal to make big impact.  It simply needs to be effective.  Dr. Lickerman writes:

“Self-transformation needn’t be dramatic, though, to have a dramatic effect.  It often means simply opening our minds to something to which they’ve been closed: perhaps learning a new skill or sharpening an old one; to seeking expert help; to conquering self-doubt, fear of failure, or fear of success; or to developing a new attitude, adopting a new way of doing things, or forsaking a deluded belief.  Even if we don’t know how we need to change, the simple act of looking inward with a mind fully accepting of responsibility for strengthening what weakens it finds and correcting what misconceptions it holds frequently yields remarkable results.”

Example of Self-Transformation

Starting the process of self-transformation starts by owning the problem, and asking yourself what you can do about it.  Dr. Lickerman writes”

“’So, for example, if your marriage is in trouble,’ I told Tanya, “it may mean you need to learn to control your anger.  Or if your marriage fails, it may mean you need to abandon your belief that you need a spouse in order to be happy.  Or, if you can’t lose weight,’ I finished, ‘it may mean making sure there isn’t some secondary gain keeping you from giving it your fall.’”

If you find yourself stuck, or getting nowhere fast, try changing your thoughts, feelings, or actions to find your breakthroughs.

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  1. Well said, JD. We have a say in how we react to everything. This post is close to my heart, because I believe it self-transformation implicitly! Thank you!

  2. @ Evan — You hit a key point. Often we don’t need to change our values, just our style, or how we are thinking, feeling, or behaving in the scenario.

    The other thing to remember is that you are not your behavior, so this gives you more flexibility in how you respond.

    @ Vidya — It sounds like you are really a fan of personal growth.

    I believe that growth is one of our best pursuits in life … to expand what we are capable of, and realize our potential.

  3. Hi JD, thanks. And “you are not your behavior” how I do agree. I think this is so important it is hard to underestimate how important this is.

  4. This reminds me of an epiphany I had after a series of failed relationships. I wasted a lot of time thinking I just hadn’t found the right person, but when I looked for the common denominator in these relationships, guess what it was….ME! I realized that I would never have a different relationship until I changed the only thing I really could change…myself! Great article.

  5. @ Galen — It reminds me of the idea that wherever you go, you take you with you.

    I think it was the book, Work from the Inside Out, where this point really sank in for me. It’s like if every time the grass is always greener somewhere else, but when you get there it turns brown, then something is off.

    One of my friends has a great way of pointing his finger back to himself. His point is that if you point fingers at other people, you give your power away. But, if you point your finger back to yourself, you empower yourself to take action.

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