I am so excited to share my book with you. Below is the Introduction to Fully Alive! Check it out, I think you will like it!
Imagine, for a moment, feeling completely free to be yourself, without any worry about what others may think. Imagine living a meaningful life that brings you peace of mind and joy in your relationships. Imagine being able to remain stress-free in this stressful world. Imagine being able to enjoy your life regardless of your circumstances.
Sound too good to be true? Not in my book! In fact, that is precisely why I am writing this little book. I want to teach you how to mature in your thinking, so that you can take back control of your life. More importantly, these are all promises made to us by God in scripture. He created us to live in emotional freedom so that we can bring glory to Him with our lives. The quote from St. Irenaeus states, “The glory of God is man fully alive!” The full context of that statement suggests that man fully alive lives glorifying God.
The Old Testament scripture Jeremiah 29:11 says, “For I know the plans I have for you, says the Lord, plans for your welfare and not for evil, to give you a future and a hope.” How many people actually live the power of this scripture? So many people settle into small, boring, restrictive, and fearful lives; not coming close to having the life God wants them to have. How sad! It doesn’t have to be this way.
I have worked with thousands of people from all walks of life in my twenty plus years as a Catholic psychotherapist with a faith based practice. I love the work I do, and the people I meet. My clients come in all ages, with all sorts of issues. Although clients come in for different reasons, I have noticed a common denominator. If there is one struggle that most of my clients have, regardless of their particular presenting problem, it is this: an emotional immaturity that keeps them trapped in ineffective ways of looking at life. By staying trapped in these immature paradigms, they are unable to step into the truth of who they are as human beings. They are unable to become the persons they were created by God to be. They are unable to tap into the wonderful plan God has for their lives. They are unable to live their lives fully alive!
The first part of this book will be devoted to an explanation and understanding of developmental stages of thinking. I was first introduced to the concept of developmental stages of thinking by Dr. Teal Bennett in the late 1980’s. In the intervening years, I have modified the concept as I have used it with my own clients. The developmental stages of thinking that I will share with you now, reflect aspects of the many and varied books I have read, along with approaches I have studied over the years. They include ideas from Stephen Covey’s Seven Habits of Highly Effective People, as well as Cloud and Townsend’s Boundaries, just to name a few. They also reflect many years of personal spiritual development. I share them with you now, not as the last word on how to get your life together, but more as an excellent first step.
For many years I have used this mechanism to help clients gauge the maturity of their outlook on life. A person’s effectiveness in life is directly related to this emotional maturity level. These developmental stages are based on the psychological developmental stages of the human being: infant, child, adolescent, and adult, with which we are all familiar.
It is my premise that we do not achieve real emotional freedom until we reach and maintain the adult stage paradigm. It is in this adult stage that we can live fully alive. In order to get there we have to advance through the other stages. These stages are developmental in the sense that they build upon each other and progress in sequence. There are age appropriate behaviors and thought patterns that go along with each stage. Problems arise when we get stuck in a stage other than the adult stage. When this happens our thinking and resulting behavior is ineffective, limiting our lives and our happiness. My job, as a therapist, is to help clients assess their current maturity level, and help them make the necessary adjustments so that they can progress to the adult state, and develop an adult paradigm on life.
As we go through these different developmental stages, one of the first things that you will notice is that you can be in different stages in different areas of your life at the same time. For instance, a person can be adult in their professional life, while being quite childish in their personal relationships, and maybe even infantile with certain people who let them get away with it. Personal relationships are usually the hardest areas for most people, with family of origin relationships often being the hardest of all.
You may also notice that you can spend time in all of these stages in any single day! However, you will also notice that you really do feel better and much more confident in the adult stage paradigm.
I admit that this approach appears to be very simplistic, and in many ways it is limited in scope. However, it has proven to be extremely effective over the years that I have used it with clients. It is a great way to pinpoint where the problem is in the client’s thinking. It also gives the proper fix. This approach makes it easy to zero in, to fine tune, and properly adjust immature thinking patterns.
As a former kindergarten teacher I like to keep things simple and elemental. I am also practical. This is a very simple and easy to use process. Anyone can use it and benefit from it. There is nothing new here. The information that I will share with you has been around for decades, much of it considered common knowledge. What is unique is how I use the information and apply it to help clients change their lives. The results have been remarkable. The response from my clients has been overwhelmingly positive. Lives have been turned around. People have been set free to become their best selves. Clients will state that they finally like themselves and feel good about the lives they are living. They feel like they are becoming the persons God created them to be. According to St. Irenaeus, they are living life fully alive. This program has worked for them, and now it can work for you.
A word of caution: this book is written in a light, easy to read style. It will be tempting to rush through it quickly. Despite its easy style, it is chocked full of useful information. Please give yourself time to process this information. The book is divided into three main parts. The first part presents the theory behind the developmental stages of thinking. It culminates in the section on Catholic adult thinking. The second part of the book is comprised of case studies. These are very helpful in “fleshing out” the theory presented in the first section. Case studies bring the theoretical to life and make it real. The last section contains several exercises that I use with clients, to help them develop a Catholic adult paradigm. I suggest that you spend several days contemplating each exercise before moving on to the next one. In this way you will give yourself the opportunity to internalize the concepts presented. By following this suggestion, you will begin to feel your relationship with God grow. For some of you, it will be the beginning of living your life in a personal relationship with your Creator. For those of you who already enjoy that wonderful relationship, you will find that your relationship will deepen and expand. Your life will come into clearer focus, giving you a new sense of purpose.
Now come with me, it’s time for you to live your life fully alive!