When I was kid I can remember numerous times being told that I needed to change my behavior or I would find myself in prison or possibly dead. The only challenge that I had was no one could provide me with guidance or the how to. At the age of 12 I learned self hypnosis from an audio tape and at the age of 16 I read my first psychology text book. I joined numerous churches and inquired into numerous religions. I search from one end of the United States to the other looking for answers but all I found were doctors and counselors that would tell me what was wrong with me but not one person could tell me how to change the direction of my life. I had been given a diagnosis of bipolar, ADD/ADHD, depression, anxiety, these were to name a few. Eventually, I turned to self medicating and before long I was told I was an addict. I gave up. Then one day I had an epiphany. What I had been looking for was right in front of me. I had been so focused on the negativity in my life I was overlooking the gifts that were being bestowed upon me. Now you have the opportunity to discover what I have discovered throughout my life long search for answers. As you open the pages and begin to read open your mind and your heart and enjoy the journey. I once was told that it isn’t the destination that’s important it’s the journey we learn from.
It’s amazing how life can transform you in a matter of seconds.
I never understood what people really meant when they told me that I’d better turn my life around – until I did. Looking back today, I wouldn’t change a thing. Where I’ve been has brought me to where I am, making me who I am.
So, here you are.
Maybe you picked up this book because you liked the cover art or the title, or because a friend recommended it. No matter. You have the book in your hands, and you want answers. I don’t know if you’ll find what you’re seeking here, but I’m certain that you’ll walk away with a new outlook on life.
You may have carefully crafted your journey through life, but no matter what experiences you enjoy or endure, your perception of each and every event is what ultimately matters.
Everyone tries to make sense of his experiences – just as a novelist tries to find the moral in every book he writes. Unfortunately, many people get trapped in the “who done it” part of their story, and lose sight of the moral.
That’s where this book will help you.
Let’s face it: We all live life, and sometimes life lives us. It’s easy to get mired in the muck and drama. We try to get unstuck, but it often seems that something or someone holds us back. I understand that. I’ve been there. On some days, I’m still there. Like you, I struggle from day to day, trying to make the best of things, and on some days, life just sucks. So why am I writing this book – someone who admits that his life is not an earthly paradise?
And why should you bother to read it?
Since I was 12 years old, I’ve been told that my actions and behaviors were unacceptable to my family and society – that I needed to change my life’s direction. There was just one problem: Nobody could divulge the secret to changing my life. I asked my parents, the neighbor, judges, corrections officers – everyone. They all offered the same stale reply, “I can’t tell you how to change. You just need to do it.”
That advice is like telling a baseball player that he just needs to hit a home run every time he comes to bat – vague and useless. I would have given 10 years of my life if someone offered me the answers I needed. I wasn’t a bad kid. I just needed direction. What I didn’t realize back then was that I was receiving direction – not from any one person, but from life itself. I was once told that events and experiences don’t make us who we are. It is the lessons hidden in our experiences that carve our future.
What does that mean? It means that we have our own storylines. We have experiences that have been written into chapters and compiled into the book that is our life. Some of us have chosen to write a horror novel; others a self-help book. I don’t have all the answers, but I do have my experiences, from which I’ve learned many valuable lessons that I will share with you.
I didn’t perceive these lessons until I was in my early thirties. As I mentioned, I’ve been seeking answers since I was 12. By the time I was 16, I’d read my first psychology textbook, had learned self hypnosis and was seeing a psychiatrist. I wasn’t happy with my life. In fact, I was so unhappy with who I was that I spent most of my youth hiding from myself.
When I was a boy, I was always trying to fit in. When I didn’t, I became angry and sad. In fact, I tried to commit suicide a few times. I was unsuccessful because I really didn’t want to die. I just wanted someone to pay attention to me. I wanted someone to hug me and tell me everything would be all right.
I felt alone even when I was surrounded by people. I was an outcast – the brunt of frequent jokes. I was also the guy who was always talked into doing things that the other kids wouldn’t. Later, I became rebellious (the classic “bad boy”), and landed in jail – not once or twice, but numerous times. I was busted for everything from shoplifting to armed robbery. I was out of control. I was heading in a direction that could end only in death or a personal transformation. At the time, I would have bet money on the first outcome.
Eventually, a judge decided that enough was enough, and sentenced me to three years in prison. After 18 months, I escaped from a work camp and was free – free to get in more trouble. By this time, I should have reformed, but like most addicts, my attitude was, “I’m okay, the world’s all wrong.” All the promises to myself, all the pledges to “wake up and smell the coffee,” were quickly abandoned as I focused on surviving another day. I should have known that I was on a fast track to the cemetery, but I didn’t.
I can’t put my finger on a particular event that changed me forever. It was probably a combination of events. But when I think back, I do recall one moment.
I was sitting on the edge of a concrete slab, in solitary confinement on the 12th floor of King County Jail. Earlier in the day, I’d spoken with my attorney, who told me that there wasn’t much he could do. I was going away for a few years. So that evening, I stared at the cathedral across the interstate highway. The reality of my life flooded in, and I broke down. As I stared through the barred window, I fell to my knees and begged God for forgiveness. I said, “Lord, I will do anything you ask of me. I will go to church every Sunday, and I will straighten up. I promise. Just let me out of this place. Let me go home. I’m begging you. Don’t let me go to prison. I know I can change, and if you’ll just give me a chance, I’ll prove it. I can change my life and I will.”
I prayed and I prayed, but my prayers weren’t answered that night – or so I thought. The next day, I went to court, and was sentenced to three years in prison. A week later, I was placed in handcuffs and shackles, and sent “up the river.”
If I had to choose a moment that marks the start of my journey toward a better self, I would pick that lonely and surreal night on the 12th floor of the county jail.
After more than 20 years of searching, during which time I’ve made numerous mistakes and corrections, I’m able to share what life has taught me. What I will reveal isn’t especially mystical or mind blowing. Nor does it represent the latest in pop psychology – as seen in the seminars led by celebrity “gurus.” Instead, this book contains a collection of tools that have helped me and hundreds of clients to become the Best Selves we can be.
Of course, even if you work the program and change your life, you won’t achieve paradise on earth. You’ll still encounter the same challenges and obstacles that you always have. The good news? You’ll be prepared to face these challenges – to work through the chaos and drama with a positive, forward-thinking focus. You will commit to living life, and you’ll never allow life to control you again.
Dr. Richard Powell, wife Jennifer and their four wonderful boys live in Idaho where Dr. Powell has been practicing pastoral medicine for the past eight years. Dr. Powell specializes life coaching and integrated neuroscience with a strong emphasis in changing ones journey by changing how they perceive their experiences.