Change to and from

Change to and from :   The Paradoxical Theory of Change

What was tolerable then, may have no usefulness now. Growth is a collision of an every changing now . Growth is both erosion and assimilation. With relative autonomy , ( a slow developing set of behaviors in itself ) one may , as an agent of change , accelerate or stall the natural erosion and assimilation of:
people and things important ones life lilly-pad-blooming

  • values and meaning
  • experience
  • environment

As one reacts to pressures and novelties in contact with him and his internal health.

This is my summary of Arnold Beisser’s of Paradoxical Theory of Change.

Arnold Beisser wrote this as a preface for a Book by Fritz Perls , who developed a conceptual mix of humanistic psychology , experiential practice (or rather existentialism) and a graphical context into his so called “ Gestalt therapy ”. Fritz Perls did so with his wife , Laura and the help of numerous colleagues.

the purpose of Beisser’s “Paradoxical theory of Change ” was  introduce tthe humanistic psychology work by another.
However , there are important and brilliant observations in its rhetoric.

Change is seldom what a person thinks wants change  — at least initially and often do to desperation or boredom. change is a slow process.

that change occurs when one becomes what he is, not when he tries to become what he is not. Change does not take place through a coercive attempt by the individual or by another person to change him, but it does take place if one takes the time and effort to be what he is — to be fully invested in his current positions.

Beisser is actually describing a specific nature of change, with autonomy and agents in mind , more than postulating a science theory.

The Nature of Change may apply to integrated group than just a single person. and the Nature of change may describe a community , a social group or social movement.

But it is proposed that the same principles are relevant to social change, that the individual change process is but a microcosm of the social change process. Disparate, unintegrated, warring elements present a major threat to society, just as they do to the individual.

The Nature of Change can be compared in study by comparing what “is” to what it “is not ” , as they meet and mobilize .

First, there is an awareness within the system that an alienated fragment exists; next that fragment is accepted as a legitimate outgrowth of a functional need that is then explicitly and deliberately mobilized and given power to operate as an explicit force. This, in turn. leads to communication with other subsystems and facilitates an integrated, harmonious development of the whole system.

the construct or object or gestalt: “is” and “is not“.
Contact” is a graphical boundary of definition between what something is and what something is not — this is a fundamental point of gestalt therapy, where focus lies at the interplay of the two — the awareness of difference and similarity, cooperation , conflict, withdraw and assimilation.

A somewhat abstract social example:

How do we describe the feminist movement of the last 100 years ?
We’d define “what is feminism and “what is not feminism”
furthermore, we would need to create context for both.
“What happened when and where: ” What is Feminism ” met or meets “What is Not Feminism
As far as the changes is Feminism , Beisser would have us expect the pressures and agents of change, erosion and withdraws along novelties.
the social collision of what is and what is not Feminism.

The personal example :

A person may describe himself as
What I am ” meeting “What I am not
The observation of change of “I “and “I am not” is the erosion, the letting go of old tenants and the assimilation of new tenants. Beissers point in his essay, that person must come to realize all facets of this if he is to change “I” and “I am not ” in a healthy manner. the person must become aware of differences, past hindrances or resolve past parts of what he is , in the contrast , interplay , coercion and cooperation of what he is not.
Beisser extends this advise beyond the single person , so that groups community and movements can change in a healthy manner.

Paradoxical Arnold Beisser

Further more…

What happens at boundary of contact is more complex than a Boolean value of this or that. With that said, it is important to become aware of distinction of what two are compared.

Another important characteristic of perception is the tendency toward closure–that is, toward making meaning about a figure. Presented with a circle of unconnected dots, for example, the perceiver instinctively fills in the gaps mentally to create a complete, bounded image.

A description of the natural tendency of “far perception” to further relationships.

reification triangle image


What could be inferred is the desire to make connection between broken or non-wholes.
an autonomous body may seek beyond its boundary as much as take what it was minutes ago.

Today the ( growingly) controlled media outlets, especially the internet and pundits is full of standoffs and bullies, both in groups and as people.
Its almost like someone is teaching a foolish irrational ways of “change” or defense.
Whats at risk ? An integrated way of being , for single person , environment, and community.

The compartmentalization of old people, young people, rich people, poor people, black people, white people, academic people, service people, etc., each separated from the others by generational, geographical, or social gaps, is a threat to the survival of mankind. We must find ways of relating these compartmentalized fragments to one another as levels of a participating, integrated system of systems.

Arnold Beisser – Paradoxical Theory of Change

I wrote you a poem…

a one draft poem inspired by Beisser. I wrote this years ago:

All things are shaped by friction
Growth by by erosion,
the crash of objects against environment
water against rock, man against circumstance,
two crashing into one and other
I am no different,
except for the engine within that propels me
forward, fueled with past experience
with the gift of mind, sensation, and memory
and the awareness of the sparks
created between me,
and the who and the what
that I crash into.

titled by me “Self indulgence”. thanks Arnie.

New Years Day. Death, Living and Changing

It is the new year: The beginning of a new calendar cycle – a graduated period of time that measures Change. I am experiencing a great amount of change recently. The most meaningful event of the previous year was the death of the man who was both my best friend and Father. The most noticeable change upcoming is supporting my mother as she gains (at huge cost) more independence and responsibility.


Death, it seems final. It is, after all, the end of a life.  Life, a graduated period of living. However each life is an integral part of larger impermanent event. Yet, I am not transcendental in my attitude. I’m instead I remain empirical  and existential in attitude. Death, living and changing are existential themes.

  • What-exists is integral part of All,
  • What-exists has it’s own nature —All while changing . Willfully or with beat of the Cosmos.

What exists as a person, may cease existing as a person – We often say is ” the end of a life” or a Death. What existed as a person may be soon exist as a tree, be the Earth below it,   dew forming on its leaves,   the atmosphere around it.

A figure of an ever-changing work of art… eventually  fades into the ground.   A wave disperses to back to the tumultuous sea.
Figure and ground.   wave and sea.   ones-own-nature and Nature.     being and not-being.   –phenomenologically speaking .


As I postulated: one’s existence is part of All. The willful part of existing, seem to be “ doing”.

Doing something is expressing our own nature. We do not exist for the sake of something else. We exist for the sake of ourselves.

– Shunryu Suzuki

To say that I exist, that “I am!” (while remembering that, at the same time I’m an integral part of All) is to say that I am expressing my nature. I breathe, I feel, I move, I ponder… All the while I participate, I express my- nature  I am part of Nature — therefore I am.
(the two fold connectivity of “my nature”, and “Nature”. –Suzuki’s Oneness of two ; Kierkegaard’s authenticity, Te and Tao … I’ll save some future post/)


[…] the natural state of man is as a single, whole being not fragmented into two or more opposing parts. In the natural state, there is constant change based on the dynamic transaction between the self and the environment…

–Arnold Beisser, from: The Paradoxical Theory of Change (Gestalt Therapy Now) 1970

One exists by expressing his own nature and harmonizing with Nature  . IMHO, this is participation,  an organism separating, connecting and integrating with his environment –this is living,   When one is  living in the present, while letting go of what is no longer part of he/she —this is change.
I am presently remembering my Dad and his life still affects mine. At the same time I let go of  what-is-not-me today.

change occurs when one becomes what he is, not when he tries to become what he is not…

–Arnold Beisser, from: The Paradoxical Theory of Change (Gestalt Therapy Now) 1970

Its been a tough year, but i have a good life, with reason to optimistic towards the future.  I  am saving a Robert Frost poem,  that I read at my Fathers service, until my next post.  until then—
Happy New Year!

my list of valuing

As I mentioned in the previous the previous post ( A new Social attitude) I am making a list  values and ways I can better contribute overall:

My list

1. Professional Loyalties –  I am committed to the professional company I work for. The Family owned production business, where I work,  hired me at a time no one else would. I return will continue to do what I can to help the business in the tough economic period.

2. Community and service-I have been absent lately for the volunteer service I am part of. I will be more return and be more committed to my volunteering.

3. My Family– they have been loyal to me during the rough times, I remain loyal to them.

4. Me and  my mental wellness roleI will be pursuing an education in mental health or services, to eventually work in a related field. Mental Wellness and the social difficulties of  Mental Wellness Managers are extremely important topics to me.

5. my influence.- I hope to share simple tools (like the ones on the “charts”  and “Breathing “pages and provoke people seek out empowerment in their wellness and personal philosophies… in my personal life and on the blog.

shocking news

I have recently contact old friends I haven’t seen in years.. one or two decades in some cases,through a Internet Social Network.
I have had  “baggage” and conflicts in the past —estranging most of my high school friendships and the onset of severe health problems in my late twenties.

I have been startled by some of the reactions I have received when I reached out to people in my past: silence, disbelief , hostility and avoidance – I have  had all these reactions recently.

I don’t know for sure, but I believe that friends in the past might have these the expectations:

  • That I was to arrogant to stay in contact with my old friends
  • That I would have my masters in Astronomy today
  • That “bad” things never happen to good people.
  • That they have always been able to trust who they thought were their friends were in the past.
  • That success is measured in professional and academic achievement only
  • That I am no longer alive.

I believe now that: for some of my old friends , (whom have these expectations), my contact has been too shocking for some to handle… so immediately.
I recently read blog post:
Relationary: Induction, Deduction and the Eight States of Change
a post pertaining to grief and shocking news, and Its given me some perspective on my recent  experience
My belief has always been that all crisis between people  that are resolvable, involve  immediate dialogue and communication. What I am learning is that people need time.

Receiving  stunning  news about someone…  the shock of unknown circumstances of  past events… the shattering of what one believes about  there personal judgment…
—Well, it takes a lot of time for people to resolve each emotional stage of handling shocking  news.
another observation from ‘s post:

Getting Stuck

A common problem with the above cycle is that people get stuck in one phase. Thus a person may become stuck in denial, never moving on from the position of not accepting the inevitable future. When it happens, they still keep on denying it, such as the person who has lost their job still going into the city only to sit on a park bench all day.

What this means is that many  past relationships maybe un-mendable, because some people are unable to come to terms with the stages of handling shocking news. Or that they are to busy with their own lives today to handle issues long in the past.

In any case: all personal relationships are in a constant change, present and rekindled from the past.
I just need to remember to be patient, give people time, and keep the lines of communication open, allow people to come to terms… on their own terms.

Finding my self

I have always heard people say they must go somewhere to “find themselves”…. Truth be told… We are  always right where we are.    {ref . here &  now }.
We are in a state of change. Yet somehow we find ourselves feeling static and in need to go somewhere else to find ourselves.
The naturally changing “us” is often hidden behind the experience of our past. Those unresolved, unconfronted feelings of past experience…
There is no need to go somewhere else to find ourself… Because our true growing self is right where we are… hidden by the effect of our past.

Thus   goes the Paradoxical Nature of Change
change occurs when one becomes what he is, not when he tries to become what he is not. ”
one way to rephrase that is:
what one truly is…. his hidden behind what the part of him that no longer fits him  .

recently I had an experience where forgotten, buried unresolved feelings came back to me. The experience of the past.
So now I may meditate and journal and let them go. They are now longer part me. I can let go of a part of me that i no longer am and continue move  to grow.
Change is a constant process of moving forward, and letting go of what hampers us.

Frying pans and Footsteps, Fear and common sense

Touch Hot Frying pan on  of stove and the hand pulls away. immediately.
A  reflex hard wired in us to protect us.
Touch a hot pan. Feel the heat. Yank the hand away. Feel the heart pound. Mind is now alert. Some fearful thought about touching the pan away.

But then common sense prevails.
With stored  empirical experience and some reasoning… we realize  that its just a hot pan. It just our Defenses. We can grab an oven mitt and get to our food that has been cooking. It took a little time to get to this point.
Fear is a faster and stronger feeling then anything else in us it seems.

( Bob Dylan’s song: Let me Die in my Foot steps. The analogy is that the Cold war Nuclear scare was so frightening, people spent more time digging fall out shelters (as if they were graves), then living.)

Its easy to see how fear can paralyze us. Keep us away from real happiness, just because our make-up says to defend ourselves at all costs.
Its our common sense and wits that we can recognize fear for what is. A mechanism. not the path of happiness.


If I already Knew
I’d Be missing out
on the Adventure of Learning
The stimulation of mystery

The discovering of what
The tempestuous How
humbling error
Invigorating ‘aha

And when I see you
you’re always changing
the world is evolving
And I’m always engaging
The adventure of learning
while never fully Knowing.