The First Step To Change

by Mark Ivar Myhre on September 20, 2010

Does this sound familiar to you?

I’ve got things I want to accomplish in this life.  I have goals, dreams, aspirations…

I have wants and needs.

I came here to DO SOMETHING!

But so often, I DON’T do something.

Because of an invisible prison I can’t even see and may not even know is there.  It’s easy to pretend this prison doesn’t exist when you can’t even see it.

So I bump up against a silent, unseen barrier.  Or worse, I avoid even touching the walls of my prison.  I live my life so as to avoid feeling something I don’t even recognize or acknowledge is even there.

No wonder I’m not living my dreams.

No wonder I’m barely getting by.

No wonder my life is a struggle.

I’m avoiding something I don’t even know exists.

Sometimes – God bless me – I actually get so fed up with the way things are that I do bump up against my invisible barriers of pain and shame.  Sometimes I’ll even wallow around in that pain and in that shame.

Grit my teeth and thrash around.  Make some waves.  Stir up some dust.  Fight like hell, in other words.  Cause I’m so frustrated with the way things are, and I want things to change.  I want SOMETHING to happen.

And, sometimes, something does happen.  I make a little progress.  Other times, I give up.

But even when I do make a little progress, I still have to worry that the changes won’t be permanent.  They might not stick.  That’s gonna suck even worse.  Cause I tried and failed.  I’m back where I started from.   Except for a few bumps and bruises.

Maybe I won’t even try…


That’s where so many people find themselves.  They don’t even know how they got there.  They can’t even articulate the process of giving up.   They just know, deep down inside, they HAVE given up.

If you didn’t have barriers, then you would have no barriers. You WOULD be living the charmed life you used to dream about, once upon a time, long ago.  Life WOULD be a dream.  The way it’s supposed to be.

But alas, we do have barriers. The first step to change is to recognize that.  No matter what you want, if you’re not getting it, it’s because there’s a painful (perhaps even shameful) barrier in the way.

I know it sounds so obvious that it’s easy to overlook.  But it’s important to really let it in.

“I have a barrier (maybe a few barriers) blocking me from living my dream life; the life I want.  The life I DESERVE.”

Now.  What is it?  Why is it there?  When did it start?  How does it function?

The answers to these and other similar questions will allow you to completely and fully RECOGNIZE the problem.  It doesn’t solve anything, by itself, but it’s a necessary first step.

I need to define the problem if I want to have any hopes of handling it. This is where the THINKING comes in!

Think.  Think.  Think.

Get it out on paper.

“But I have so many barriers.”

Great!  You’ll get lots of experience in overcoming them!  You’ll be an expert!  Then you can teach others.  Make tons of money.  Get rich.  Whatever.

The key is to just start with what jumps out at you first.

Whatever you want that you’re not getting, whatever frustrates you, whatever dreams you’ve given up on…  just start with the first thing that jumps up when you think about that unrealized goal.

Start there.  Don’t worry if it’s the ‘right’ place to start.  Just start with SOMETHING.

After you’ve explored the problem – defined it, thought about it, written about it…  so you understand it pretty well… then you may wish to even visualize it as an object.  Make it a little more concrete.

That’s what I do.

Sometimes I’m dealing with raw steel.  Sometimes it’s barbed wire.  Sometimes – “hey, this is just a marshmallow!”

Sometimes it’s a giant slimy slug.  Sometimes it’s a brick wall, or a concrete wall.  Or a huge boulder.  Sometimes it’s so scary or so repulsive it takes a while to objectify it.  But objectify it I do.

Another part of this ‘thinking’ step – I tell myself the ugly truth about why this barrier is even here in the first place.

Yes, it almost always starts in childhood or adolescence.  I can deal with that.  But guess what?  I’m no longer a child or adolescent.

So why do I still keep it alive?  Why do I keep the lie alive?  Why do I carry around a wheelbarrow full of lies who’s only function is to frustrate me and keep me from getting what I want?

That’s ugly.  Any way you look at it.

Now of course, I have many shades of lipstick I can put on this pig.  And that’s probably the first thing I’ll do.

“Because my mother did this to me!”


“Because I CAN’T change!”


“Because…  because… I didn’t even realize it up till now!”

Getting better.

So why did you not realize it up till now?

Maybe to prove what a rotten childhood I had.  Maybe to avoid intimacy or responsibility.  Maybe to manipulate or control others.  Maybe to punish others.  Or maybe it’s for some other equally-unlofty goal.

Now we’re getting to the ugly truth – the REAL reason we keep the barrier in place.

This is where so many people get stuck, even when they make it this far.  (Which is an accomplishment in itself!)

But they get stuck here because they refuse to tell themselves the truth.  They’d rather take that pig – lipstick and all – to the county fair.  They hang onto the ‘noble’ reasons why their life is the way it is.

“I’m a victim.  I really am.  Life is out to get me.  My parents were such horrible rotten people I can never recover.  I am – and always will be – the adult child of a whatever parent.  That’s just the way it is.”

And that’s just the way it will stay.

“Everyone else in the world can grow and change and get what they want.  But not me.  I really am different.  My story really is worse.  I really am special.”

It’s all fluff.  But many people will get stuck here, and thus they will never change.

They simply refuse to face the truth.

They never question their assumptions; the lies that make up the barrier.

Sometimes it really is about ‘staying safe’ in some perverted way.  Such as…

Fear of being responsible for living a good life…  Fear of giving up struggle… Fear of vulnerability.

Because it’s just too threatening.

Whatever it is, once you truly hit the real reason, it’s like hitting an underground reservoir of oil.  It gushes up with some sort of emotion.  And it naturally leads to the next stage of the changing process…

For the complete process to changing ANYTHING in your life, get your copy of the e-book, The Magic Of Forgiveness, by going here –

Because forgiveness always comes before change.

{ 1 comment }

Chris November 15, 2011 at 6:40 pm

This is such a great article Mark. As I read it I could feel my blockages, my fear of change. my shame etc, and they were physically painful. I have a bit of work to do but thanks for showing the road to change.

Best wishes always

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