The answers are not out there.
You won’t find them in the New York Times best seller’s list or a new self-improvement course.
In fact, I will go so far as to say this idea that somehow you can pursue happiness is a complete waste of time.
No one is going to give us what we need in order for change to happen.
Most problems and issues will not be solved by something external to us.
You are your own problem and solution.
Before you stop reading this article, especially if you’re an optimistic ambitious idealist, let me introduce you to a concept that will help you understand what I mean.
“Who looks outside, dreams; who looks inside, awakes.”–Carl Jung
The Backwards Law
The paradoxical theory of change, also known as the "backwards law," is a concept in psychology and psychotherapy that suggests that the more we try to change ourselves, the more we stay the same, and the more we accept ourselves as we are, the more we change.
Take a moment and read that again.
The more we try to change, the more we stay the same.
The more we accept ourselves, the more we change.
But what if we don’t like what we see in the mirror?
What if we have ideas of a better life filled with the perfect career, living in the perfect house with a perfect partner?
Living our best life and getting everything we want as soon as we want it. Billions of dollars are made through this idea that we can be whoever we want to be. That idea has a fundamental flaw. To achieve that –we have to reject who we are right now.
Let me explain more of this paradox.
This theory was first introduced by Arnold Beisser, a psychotherapist and author, in his book "The Paradoxical Theory of Change" in 1970. Beisser observed that traditional approaches to therapy often focused on the patient's problems and the need to fix them, which could create resistance and further perpetuate the problem.
“What we resist, not only persists but will grow in size.”–Carl Jung
He believed that this approach was counterproductive and could lead to a sense of hopelessness and frustration.
Beisser's theory suggests that the act of trying to change oneself creates resistance that ultimately prevents change from occurring.
Instead, he believed that accepting oneself as they are, without judgment or criticism, can create a sense of openness and freedom that allows for change to happen naturally.
The Theory of Change
The paradoxical theory of change is rooted in the idea that change is an organic and natural process that cannot be forced or controlled.
It suggests that the more we try to control our thoughts, emotions, and behaviours, the more we become stuck in patterns of behaviour that limit our growth and potential.
According to the paradoxical theory of change, the path to personal growth and transformation begins with accepting ourselves as we are.
This means acknowledging and embracing our strengths, weaknesses, and imperfections without judgment or criticism. By accepting ourselves, we create a sense of inner peace and freedom that allows us to explore new possibilities and ways of being.
There is a simple route to self-acceptance. It is the door to everything we need to truly live a life of contentment. There is an energy that is available to everyone, and it starts with understanding who we are and where we come from.
The solutions are not out there to obtain; the answers are within us to reveal.
We are sold the product of happiness through cultural conditioning, through the denial of negative emotion as unnecessary and unwanted. Unlearning the ideas that are formed in society that limit our potential through the pursuit of more rather than living in harmony with what is enough.
Your new self-improvement guide
The paradoxical theory of change challenges traditional notions of self-improvement and suggests that the key to personal growth and transformation lies in accepting ourselves as we are.
By learning to love what is and by embracing our strengths, weaknesses, and imperfections without judgment or criticism, we create a sense of openness and freedom that allows for change to happen naturally.
The good news is this is pretty simple to do and, in the right environment, can happen with little effort.
This theory offers a refreshing perspective on personal growth and transformation and has the potential to revolutionise the way we approach self-improvement.
We explore this concept further during our Toulouse retreat masterclass. Along with your narrative and celebrating how it influences you. Together we start a new and exciting chapter.