There are five myths I often hear from other coaches and healing practitioners that are important to debunk if we’re to create the personal and collective change we need.

Here they are and what I believe is more true:

One: Inner work is all we need to change the world.

Too often, I hear coaches and healers say that personal transformation alone can change the world. I disagree.

In the face of a dominant culture that wounds us, personal healing is an act of rebellion. And, if all humanity needed were privileged people to focus on themselves, we’d already be free.

Changing the world requires internal change and external change. We must heal the internalized oppression that makes it hard to see ourselves and each other clearly. And we must dismantle the systems that oppress us and create new ones rooted in love and liberation.

With privilege comes responsibility. Radical discernment (the process I teach) is not all that we need to change the world.

But it is one important piece of the puzzle that can help you honor your responsibilities to yourself and the collective.

Two: One methodology process can give you everything you need to change your life.

As Alfred Korzybski wrote, the map is not the territory. As a mapmaker with multiple privileged identities, I have a limited perspective of the territory. I am a white, middle-class, cisgender, able-bodied, neurotypical, well-educated, English-speaking, US-citizen woman.

If you have more oppressed identities than mine, I hope this book feels helpful. And, because I believe that people with lived experience are most-equipped to help others with shared experiences, I include a list of books related to the inner work of changemaking by Black, Indigenous, and other POC healers at the end of the book.

Radical discernment is not a complete view of the territory or everything you might need to get clear. And, I invite you to try out what I teach you. Don’t take my word for it. Experiment. Practice. If you stay curious about what works for you, eventually you’ll discover a map of your own.

Three: Individuals have the power to determine all the circumstances of their lives.

If the Achiever in me had her way, I’d wave a magic wand and grant all your wishes. I’d say: Here! Take these exact steps! You’ll feel all better!

But that would be dishonest.

As bell hooks wrote: Being oppressed means the absence of choices.

Sometimes, we only have bad choices. Radical discernment is not a magic wand that will immediately grant you the choices I wish you had.

And, as Alice Walker wrote, the most common way people give up their power is by thinking they don’t have any.

We don’t choose many of our circumstances. And, we choose how we show up for ourselves and each other. As Austrian

Holocaust survivor and psychiatrist, Viktor Frankl, wrote in Man’s Search for Meaning:

“We who lived in concentration camps can remember the men who walked through the huts comforting others, giving away their last piece of bread. They may have been few in number, but they offer sufficient proof that everything can be taken from a man but one thing—the last of the human freedoms—to choose one’s attitude in any given set of circumstances, to choose one’s own way.”

Choosing is an act of power, especially in the face of no good choice.

Four: You can change your life by yourself.

None of us are born with the skills of radical discernment, and most of us don’t learn these skills growing up. Learning journeys are easier when we have mentors who have guided others through the territory before and allies on a similar journey. Moreover, because trauma usually occurs in relationship to other people, healing is often easiest in relationship to other people.

I encourage you to seek out learning partners who can accompany you.

Five: Change is hard work.

I often hear people say things like: “Change has to take a long time.” “You have to tear someone down to build them back up.” “I have to go all in, or else it won’t work.”

But your time is limited, and you’re exhausted as it is. So if you think inner work must be hard, you might feel reluctant to dive in.

So I invite you to play with the question: What if change was easy?

It’s true—healing can take time. To turn a good idea into a habit, we have to practice many times.

But radical discernment does not have to be hard work. Change can happen quickly. Most of the practices I teach take only seconds or minutes. And change can be fun. The emotion my career coaching and leadership coaching clients most commonly express at the end of our sessions is excitement.

Healing doesn’t have to be all-or-nothing. Keep doing what is possible, and let go of the rest. Over time, baby steps lead to big change.


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