by Dr. Froswa’ Booker-Drew
Previously we looked at the three stages of change, at what makes up personal transformation. I used the work of author Jack Meizrow (2000) to break the process into three components:
- A disorienting dilemma
- Critical Reflection
- Perception Transformation
Personal Experience with Disorienting Dilemmas
I’ve had my own disorienting dilemmas. I grew up in Louisiana in the 70s and 80s. My experience with different ethnic groups beyond Caucasians was limited. It wasn’t until I moved to college that I interacted with Latinos, Asians, Africans and others who were much different than I was. College was an excellent place for me because instead of retreating from the challenge, I was forced to examine the stereotypes that I heard or saw as a child. This experience caused me to reflect on concepts that were new and I changed.
I realized the commonalities I shared with others more than the differences that were often emphasized. It also allowed me to become an advocate for those who were different not only because I understood what being different meant but I realized the damage of the social constructs that have been created to place us in categories and boxes. When I changed my thinking, my behaviors changed and my life began to look different. My friends and family are varied and diverse because I was exposed to the value and beauty that existed in myself and in others.
Critical Reflections on Transformation
When I reflect on the lives of Dr. King, Ghandi, Mother Teresa, along with other notable leaders, they all experienced personal transformations in their lives that resulted in the significant impact. King struggled with his faith and yet it was used to create a movement. Mother Teresa also struggled with her faith and yet it propelled her to love and inspire others. She, too, experienced transformation in the process.
All three of these leaders experienced challenge and change in their lives that served as a foundation for the great work they would do in their lives. In order to see the changes we’d like to see in society, I really believe that it begins with “self first.” One of my favorite quotes by Dr. Martin Luther King is, “Injustice anywhere is a threat to justice everywhere.” My hope is that as we see the unrest around the globe it as a sign of the unrest that exists in many of our lives. These disorienting dilemmas are important and necessary both personally and collectively. The change must begin in our thinking and our lives so that it can be manifested in our communities.
I am firm believer that change can begin with a conversation. We tend to congregate with those who are like us. I challenge you to the possibility of a disorienting dilemma. Connect with individuals who are different not just in appearance but in thinking and way of life not with the goal to change them but with the desire to be transformed first. It is so easy to criticize what we don’t understand instead of doing the difficult task of listening and learning. These moments in our lives are opportunities to deal with the restlessness in our existence that prevent us from being our best self. Don’t run from the conflict—move to seek answers, to understand instead of being understood. In the process, watch the removal of barriers and the expansion of boundaries.
“Change will not come if we wait for some other person or some other time. We are the ones we’ve been waiting for. We are the change that we seek.” Barack Obama