Chapter Seven Life Transformation - Transcending Personality
Benefits of Embracing Transformation
Angela and Laura’s story of their shift
The Trading Post Prayer Drama
Your mission is to learn at least one method of your choice for facilitating life transformation. You graduated from childhood in a personality pattern that is a cocoon for your inner butterfly. There is greater freedom for you.
If you were the Too Serious Kid, then as you grew into adulthood, you slipped easily into the Super Responsible personality pattern. This personality style gave you your sense of identity. That means that this personality pattern answers questions as to who you are, what is your role, and what is your purpose in life. For this and other reasons your personality pattern is stable and resistant to change. But there may be more to your story than you can imagine from within that cocoon.
A drive to change may emerge from your Inner child. Have you been older all your life? You can actually be younger! Do you know that Bob Dylan sang about that. “I was so much older then, I am younger than that now.”
Your Inner Child is likely tired of you being the too-serious kid. Perhaps a treasure chest of talents, skills, and roles are suppressed within of your Inner child. God may be calling for their release and fulfillment. Childhood dreams may be signs of the call on your life.
A call to change may also be causing an inner sense of dissatisfaction with your life. What you feel as depression, anxiety and panic attacks may be that inner dissatisfaction building up within you and calling you to be more of who you are meant to be.
How often has your life collapsed into a sense of overwhelming failure. The reason you keep failing at your ‘mission’ is that it is not your mission. If you got confused in childhood about your mission and took on some of God’s role then, of course, you are going to fail! Let your sense of failure be a wake up call.
Let me fuel that drive to change by reminding you of the cost of staying as the Super Responsible. Write on a card those items that are the most meaningful to you and review them every day until you really know it it time to change.
Here are some problems experienced by the Super-Responsible adult:
I am always watching for risks, worry too much and create anxiety with is effecting my health.
I am often in the role of protecting people.
I value and always strive to create safety and order.
As I strive to create order in the group I am part of I become controlling and stifle others.
Peace is my ideal.
I feel guilty if anything goes wrong. saying ‘Sorry,” and take responsibility for it.
I live with constant self-criticism.
I experience high anxiety.
I am depressed and live with underlying depression.
My life mission is helping others. I am in the role of Rescuer in most relationships.
At times my feelings of failure that are overwhelming.
I tend not to not be expressive, or emotional.
I tend to be serious.
I lack a playful side.
I have obsessions - obsessive-compulsive traits.
How many of these do you say yes to? Write these down and review them daily asking yourself ‘Is God calling me into life transformation?’
The concept of personality transformation may be a new concept to you. There are not many counsellor/therapists with this focus. The fresh perspective here is that such a focus in therapy is needed, and is needed by all of us, as we all get trapped in dysfunctional personalities. We all would be better off freed from our rigid personality style and living from a more authentic identity.
I also believe that we do not have a choice about life transformation. Nature will have Her way. For one thing, failure to embrace life transformation leaves us vulnerable to a nervous breakdown. That ‘nervous breakdown’ is one way Nature pushes us toward health and higher integration. This is the topic of Chapter 9 - The Nervous Breakdown.
We can preempt and prepare for this crisis by choosing to commit our Personality Style (our old nature or old self) to God. Claim a death to the old self and put Jesus as Lord, Saviour, Healer and Deliverer to handle this transition. Then you you can use the Trading Post Prayer Drama from Chapter Four to involve Jesus at the heart level in making this transition.
We can seek for the resources that will help in a measured transition. We can choose professional resources before the crisis. However most of us will not do that - will not embrace and gather such resources before this crisis occurs.
I have couples who come to me for couple therapy - they want me to work on their marriage. However, I may discover one or more of the marital partners is in their own nervous breakdown and have not identified it. They are in their own individual identity crisis at the same time as their marriage is breaking down. That makes therapy multiple layered. It is usually best to do the individual therapybefore working on the couple relationship. You can’t do individual therapy in a couple session.
Why Embrace Personality Transformation There are benefits in breaking out of our old personality style? You see, the old style was developed to survive childhood. However adult relationships will not match your own childhood family.
But even if your adult relationships replicate patterns from your childhood you might not like that pattern. You don’t want to stay in that circus. You do not like those patterns of relationships that keep repeating. One way out of those patterns is for you to change.
People think that they can just make better choices but quite often that does not work. Our personalities send out vibrations - signals to others. Our unconscious expectations too often get fulfilled.
Consider this list of the possible benefits to you of shifting out of the Super Responsible role, which is only one example of a dysfunctional pattern. Consider this list:
1. You gain joy, spontaneity, creativity, intuition, closeness to God, hope and faith in the world as your Inner child is freed and healed.
2. You gain freedom from constant self-criticism. One would begin to experience more positive messages going between Inner Parent and Inner Child. See also: Chapter 8, Dealing with the Inner Judge.
3.Anxiety and depression will lift as your Inner Child gets a free from patterns of suppression, stifled expression, shame messages and inner criticism. The Inner child learns to play, You find your voice, and express your talents and gifts.
4. Better relationship with yourself and others follows from sorting out your boundary issues.This can be important to avoid burnout or work issues. You are able to assert yourself and say “No’ to requests.
5. Your find yourself in deeper and better love relationships as you to learn to express your inner needs. That removes one block to high quality intimate relationships.
6. You find that you are a better servant leader as you begin to trust others to do their part. Your ability to delegate is enhanced. You nurture others so they can mature and blossom.
7. Where you tended to be controlling in an effort to ensure peace, you find you are able to let go of control. You are trusting more. Angela’s Shift Begins
‘Angela’ came to me when a life-time of anxiety morphed into severe panic attacks.When she first came into my office she could not sit down but had to pace the floor. Angela’s narcissistic mother and avoidant father almost demanded that she be the responsible one in the family.
As Angela continued her own explorations of her issues, she got the word ‘appropriation.’ Discovering the meaning was something take from one without permission, she began a list of all that was taken from her in her childhood without her permission. She listed:
sense of self,
ability to make my own decisions.
At this point she began to sob - one of those deep sobbing times that one never forgets. This went on for 20 minutes. What, she wondered, was going on?
We knew from her dreams that her Inner child was locked away. I thought that her Inner Child really feeling the loss of her childhood and expressing that loss with this deep grieving.
This was the first indication that her Inner Child was breaking free and openly expressing the deep grief and pain in her childhood. Emotions locked up inside were finding expression.
Angela was on the brink of discovering much about herself that she had been our of touch with. Her personality pattern had excluded her Inner Child. But she began to discover that her Inner Child wanted a chance to be included.
There was a conflict for Angela. If Angela was able to allow her Inner child to be included then everything would change. She would find a new sense of who she was, and what was her role and purpose in life. But that was a risk and she might not be in control.
It was not at all clear that Angela would allow her Inner Child to emerge and have a voice. The process was painful and she was anxious. However, she did decide to stay in the process, stay in therapy and began to listen to her Inner Child.
Laura’s Shift out of the Super Responsible Personality
Laura was very distracted by her dad’s needs. He was in a nursing home and he called 7 or 8 times per day to complain or make requests. She was unable to ignore him even if she ignored some of his phone calls. This made her anxious. Her own life was put on hold because of the energy used in her concern for him. She wasn’t taking care of herself and her own needs.
In other words, Laura could not allow her Inner Child to surface because her dad needed and was triggering her Caring Parent. She, too, was a Super-Responsible and was trapped in the role of serving her dad.
However, at one point his phone privileges ended and then the only way he could make a phone call was at the nursing station. He slowed down to one phone call per day. That was enough to free up Laura’s time and energy to do things for herself. And she began to be playful and do some fun things.
Laura got very involved in collecting and playing new board games. She helped organizea local board game group and build it up. She went out two evening a week to play board games and involved her husband in playing board games with her at home.
Looking at this you can see that this was a shift for Laura out of Super Responsible - a focus on caring for her dad - to make space for the emergence of her Inner Child who wanted to play. Now she could choose to do things for herself that involved fun, food and socializing. Her inner Child emerged from hiding at that point and her Caring Parent took a back seat. This was a spontaneous shift brought on when her dad lost phone access.
When there is no pressing person in need of care, she could let go of the Super-Responsible role and allow her Inner Child to emerge and do self-care and have playful times.
It may still be important to acknowledge and confess the Super-Responsible pattern to God for inner healing prayer. (See, for example, Chapter 11 and 12 for two examples of ways to do this.) If this is not done the Super-Responsible will get stuck in the old patterns as soon as someone is in their life who requires care. At that point she will drop fun and self-care and focus exclusively back caring on the other.
However, change, even motivation to change, is hard to come by. We often have astrong resistance to change.
Professional Help? In spite of these benefits you may find yourself resistant to getting help or attending therapy. There might have to be a clear crisis. Remember that responsible self-care allows you to continue to be there for others.
When in therapy the Super Responsible often states that they want to deal with the present but not the past. But that just means they prefer to ignore the Inner child’s needs and they want to continue to avoid childhood issues. They have been forbidden to look after there inner Child and they try to impose that restriction on their therapy.
Of course you want to find a professional therapist, counsellor or psychotherapist who you can work with. Ever step forward is likely to be beneficial. Personality change is not a do-it-yourself project. However, your therapist may need to confront your tendency to avoid your Inner Child. Emotional health means Inner healing of your Inner Child.
Try to find a professional whose practice has the mission of lasting permanent change. (Note: , who are familiar with memory reconsolidation or who are using one of the therapies that fit with what we know about permanent heart change. )
The life of the Super-Responsible adult is so completely focused on others that it is very difficult to do something for oneself. You will find inner resistance to looking after your own needs by spending on therapy. You are undermined by the messages of the Critical Parent about not being so childish or so selfish. I understand that it is very hard to break through these obstacles.
One part of therapy involves dealing with the Critical Parent. That is a topic of its own and is the topic of the next chapter - Dealing with the Inner Judge. The ‘Inner Judge’ is another term for the Critical Parent.
There are some specialist therapists whose practice is sensitive to personality transformation and who is working toward that outcome whenever it is possible. Note 6-1.