Four years ago, I couldn’t walk.  I couldn’t even put my socks on.

Yesterday, I went for a run — without someone chasing me… I actually chose it.

In these years, I’ve been experimenting with our Change MAP, applying it to myself, and there’s a lot I’d like to share about the experience.  The good news is, it works.  The bad news is, it’s still hard… and change isn’t “done.”  It’s an ongoing, continuous engagement of the new.

transformation-unfoldsOf the many paradoxes of change, one that’s enchanting me is the effect of impossibility.  We often think of planning for change in “baby steps,” and while that’s useful, there’s a very different emotional experience in going from, “absolutely no *)@# way” to “can.”

Many years ago, my friend Cath Corrie told me a lovely “trick”:  When someone says, “I can’t,” you encourage them to add “yet.”  Try just saying “I can’t” and “I can’t yet” — the emotional experience is dramatically different.  The first is a wall.  The second, a door.

So, when I couldn’t put my socks on, I decided, “I can’t, yet.”  Then, pretty soon, I could.  Awkwardly, painfully… but all by myself, I got one damn sock on!  Then I had to work on the second.  What I noticed is that when I did my physical therapy, when I pushed just hard enough, when I was both patient and unrelenting, I got better.  As I got better, I also felt more powerful.

Inch by inch, I could stand on one leg.  Then bend.  Then sit on the floor and stand.  Then walk.  Then do knee bends.  Then hop.  Then jump.

Each step was literally impossible for me… and then when it became possible, I realized that I was stronger than I ever realized before.  Physically stronger, definitely.  Today I’m far from an ideal physique, but I’m stronger than I’ve been since I was a teenager.  Perhaps equally importantly, though, I’m emotionally stronger.  I still have mornings when I wake up thinking and feelings “I can’t.”  Today was one.  Then, I remember that I have done the impossible — many times — and I add the “yet,” and I’m free to take another step.

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Joshua Freedman

Joshua is one of the world’s preeminent experts on developing emotional intelligence to create positive change. With warmth and authenticity, he translates leading-edge science into practical, applicable terms that improve the quality of relationships to unlock enduring success. Joshua leads the world’s largest network of emotional intelligence practitioners and researchers.
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