Transformation time

It’s a new year and no doubt you woke up on New Year’s Day full of grand intentions for the year ahead (and possibly chardonnay and prawns as well). It is time when we often make resolutions for change but while the intention might be there the capacity to make the changes are another matter. Transformation of your personality is a difficult matter but you are not without help. In our folk lore, myths, and stories lie much wisdom about the human condition and according to findings from a new study one very well known story has some useful lessons to offer if you are trying to transform yourself.

The story in question is Charles Dickens’ “A Christmas Carol” which features the trials and tribulations of Ebenezer Scrooge. The researchers performed detailed studies of people who had experienced profound, sudden, and lasting change and found that Scrooge’s experience shared many elements of their experience and so has a lot to offer the person seeking a model of how to make major personal change.

In the story Scrooge is wealthy but each Christmas Eve, on the anniversary of the death of his only friend Jacob Marley, he feels his isolation intensely and painfully. In the story the ghost of Jacob Marley returned seven years after his death to warn Scrooge that he needs to change his ways. This paralleled the stories expressed by the real life people in the study in two important ways.

Firstly, the researchers noted that the point of change for people came some time, usually many years, after a turning point event that they clearly remembered. This is mirrored in Marley’s arrival seven years after his death. Secondly, despite his being a ghost Marley reflects the fact that the people in the study reported that a trusted other person was integral to their transformative experience.

Additionally, the participants in the study all experienced overwhelming stress prior to making their breakthrough, just as Scrooge did. The researchers speculate that hitting rock bottom may be a necessary part of major positive transformations. However, they also speculate that maybe you can circumvent the need to bottom-out by initiating the process yourself.

So if you want to make change and before you overload with stress, seek out a trusted friend and ask for their honest guidance. We are social creatures after all and why wait to burn out before you turn on the light? Let your friend or friends help you be the person you want to be and 2013 will be truly a year of transformation and dreams come true for you.

Terry Robson

Terry Robson

Terry Robson is the Editor-in-Chief of WellBeing and the Editor of EatWell.

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