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The Habitual Center Of Personal Energy

William James claimed that each person has some central organizing interests, commitments, principles, or ways of being that orient us in the world. These define us in many important ways and function as our centers of personal energy. These centers can change over time, sometimes very intentionally and other times as a consequence of neglect or passivity. It is particularly painful when we see people whom we like, respect, and love suffer because of their personal centers of energy.


608 reads


Where There Was Light, Now There Is Darkness

To begin to cultivate that willingness to change, James says people need to have two things in their minds. The first is a clear sense of how the present ways of living are incomplete, harmful, or not good enough and even wrong for them. Athletes who can no longer compete may feel lost in the wor...


298 reads

Out Of Center, Out Of Place

People who do reach their center may set a higher but related goal or may see the result as inevitable and proof that they are exactly who they believe themselves to be. Not reaching that goal on their own timetable may provide incentive for redoubling their efforts and ...


412 reads

Where There Was Me, Now There Is Another

On the other hand, most people who struggle with addiction become experts at listing all the ways they have messed up their lives, lost important relationships and goods, and perhaps most importantly, lost themselves or the plans for their lives. This recognition of their losses ...


293 reads

We Cannot Change Inside People. We Can Change Around People.

While no one of us can change the habitual center of personal energy of another, we can affect the conditions that will either hinder or facilitate change.

We make it harder when we act in ways that keep a person locked in the loop of wrongness and incompleteness....


291 reads

“I Wouldn’t Change A Thing About You. Maybe A Thousand Things.”

Each of us has someone or several someones whom we would like to change. We may really like or love them to pieces, but there are some habits or traits we wish were otherwise. Sometimes the changes are relatively minor. We’d love it if they broke some annoying habits such as bein...


891 reads

Center Of Personal Energy Example: The Professional Athlete

Consider a professional athlete in pursuit of a championship. Relationships, education, and social involvement, for example, are all secondary to that one goal. Their habitual center of personal energy is that goal and all that needs to be done to meet it. People or commitmen...


532 reads

Center Of Personal Energy Example: The Addict

Consider another case of people who begin to struggle with addictive substances and behaviors. Alcohol, drugs, and certain behaviors are at the center of a person’s life in the worst throes of addiction. Relationships have been ruined, careers trashed, opportunities lost, and dreams shattered.


369 reads

We Cannot Will Another’s Will

In the cases of the athlete and the addict, the usual tactics of pleading, cajoling, shaming, and manipulating are not effective methods to change another’s habitual center of personal energy. One person cannot make another person change no matter how hard we try. Our efforts may have the...


321 reads

A Polaris, Or North Star, Of Change And To Change

The second thing William James says people must have in mind to make genuine change is a positive ideal that they long to compass or set as their points of orientation in the world. These ideals or visions of a good life may seem completely inaccessible or even impossible to people who ha...


277 reads

When There’s Nothing: A Starter And A Catalyst

Athletes who have been largely sequestered from everything but their sport are at a disadvantage, starting nearly from scratch. They lack fundamental skills that many others take for granted. They may need to look to others who have made the transition successfully. They may need...


266 reads

When There’s Something: A Past And A Story

Those who struggle with addiction and voluntarily seek help in some form may have positive visions from earlier in their own lives. They can accept the incompleteness of their present lives but take motivation from it to shape how they will act differently moving forward. They se...


233 reads




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