May, 2017

How Do We Actually Change?

How Do We Actually Change?

By Interweaving Good Process with Content

Of all of the treatment modalities I worked with across my career as a therapist, nothing came close to healing hurting hearts and relaxing ego defenses as when I used the Enneagram system.

Have you studied much of the good content available in books as well as on the Internet, regarding the Enneagram? It’s an extraordinary, incisive system and profoundly insightful. But just reading alone doesn’t seem to bring it home. If that were the case, I could have sent my clients home with an Enneagram book and awaited transformation. Why is it that we can’t seem to enact real change after reading one of the many great Enneagram books or by simply studying online? I observed that something else is needed. Just “studying” the Enneagram is not enough to create transformative personal change. Why is that? What I would like to suggest is that in order for us to actually experience personal growth, it’s necessary to interweave consistent and dedicated “practice” — process — with the study of great content. We need process and we need interaction, trial and error, and ongoing, repetitive dedication.

I recall my time in medical school. I was studying content endlessly and hearing it lectured weekly from professors. I rarely received instruction regarding a process or method to incorporate the mountains of content I was exposed to. The only implementation seemingly happening was some practice with fellow students and on patients. I remember learning how to draw blood by first practicing with a fellow student — what fun. We didn’t volunteer for each other as a result of being instructed to do so by our teachers, nor was the notion suggested in our academic study. But something in me, and my fellow students, knew that while we had studied “how to draw blood” in our books, and had watched experienced nurses demonstrate it for us, we actually had to experience the task firsthand, which would include our own cognitive, emotional, and physical, skill-developing processes.

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