Flying without wings

There are endless miles of self-help books and suggestions on how to get a better and more successful life. When we, such as psychologists and therapists, receive our clients, we also in many cases come up with a myriad of good well-meaning advice – to support this wish of more well-being. The good suggestions and intentions certainly have their justification and can often help short term.

The sustained fruitful growth often comes from something completely different than forced action – it comes paradoxically by not trying to change who you are. In this thought change and fertile growth is understood and observed as something that occurs when one becomes what he is, not when he tries to become what he is not.

Many life knots are kept unnecessarily tight because we do not want to be, as we are. In a way we resist life – instead of going with the flow of what is.

Paradoxical theory of change is a topic and way of living with great importance to me as a human being and in my work with people and growth.

I am amazed that something so simple as “being with what is” can make such a big difference in practice when it comes to personal growth. Simple and not easy, right?

How can we as human beings work with paradoxical change when acceptance can neither be bought nor forced to be – like love?

Flying without wings is about existing and moving through life as you are with the limitations and options that you have.

There is an almost forgotten and hidden transforming force in powerlessness. The power of this change is close to giving up resistance to life – but is more a kind of letting go – a forcefully engaged surrender to life – from moment to moment – in ups and downs, do’s and don’ts, possibilities and limitations.

In what has now become a “classic” of Gestalt therapy literature, Arnold R. Beisser described Gestalt’s paradoxical theory of change. The paradox is that the more one attempts to be who one is not, the more one remains the same. Conversely, when people identify with their current experience, the conditions of wholeness and growth support change. Put another way, change comes about as a result of “full acceptance of what is, rather than a striving to be different.”

If you want to read about paradoxical change, the classic is of course Arnold Beisser’s article “Paradoxical Theory of Change” and his book: “Flying Without Wings”

In addition, I might draw your attention to a free treasure chest. The book is called Gestalt Therapy: History, Theory, and Practice. In A. Woldt and S. Toman (Eds.) And can be downloaded online. Try Chapter 5 “Gestalt therapy theory and change” written by Gary Yontef.

Watch “Flying Without Wings: Life with Arnold Beisser”, by from Liv Estrup available to buy on Vimeo – watch several trailers on YouTube.