From the “The Principles and Patterns of Building… Everything!”
A BEAUTIFUL LIVING, LLC Masterclass Series
The Principle of Beginning with the End in Mind
In previous posts, we’ve covered three principles in the Law of Organization:
Dream. Imagine. Explore ideas.
Choose a single area to focus on.
The final principle is this:
Begin with the end in mind.
Beginning with the end in mind is a motivation technique that helps identify what you ultimately want. It is the final step of the “Organize” phase and it comes to us from Viktor Frankl. Frankl (1905-1997), lived in Austria during the German annexation under Hitler. Because he was a Jew, he endured intense persecution and imprisonment. His educational background was in clinical psychiatry and neurology. He spent his career teaching suicidal patients new ways to look at their suffering and their lives. He actively used his learning to give the same counsel to fellow inmates at the various concentration camps he endured including Auschwitz and wrote about his experiences in the best-selling book, Mn’s Search for Meaning, which I highly recommend. Among so many other powerful insights, Frankl taught:
When Frankl first gave this advice, written in his book “Man’s Search For Meaning,” he was counseling a woman who had had two sons. One son, healthy and strong, died at 11 years old. The other son had been crippled as an infant and needed to be pushed everywhere in a wheelchair, as an adult. He required daily care and she could not understand how he could have any sense of joy with such a body. She certainly didn’t feel that a life of service to her crippled son, who could not be healed, would be a meaningful life for her either. Frankl says, “When she tried to commit suicide together with him, it was the crippled son who prevented her from doing so; he liked living! For him, life had remained meaningful. Why was this not so for his mother” (116)?
Frankl asked her to imagine the opposite of her life at the time: that she had married a millionaire and had had no children at all, and then imagine what she’d feel like at the end of her life if she lived for pleasure alone. After this exercise, she admitted that her life would have been a failure (117).
Then, Frankl, had her do the exercise we are going to do, too. He “invited the mother of the handicapped son to imagine herself looking back over [the life she had now]” by imagining herself 50 years in the future and at the end of her life and viewing it as it was playing out in reality but from her deathbed (we won’t go that far back, though). This is what she said: “‘I wished to have children and this wish has been granted to me; one boy died; the other, however, the crippled one, would have been sent to an institution if I had not taken over his care. Though he is crippled and helpless, he is after all my boy. And so I have made a better human being out of my son.” At this moment,” Frankl says, “there was an outburst of tears and, crying, she continued: ‘As for myself, I can look back peacefully on my life; for I can say my life was full of meaning, and I have tried hard to fulfill it; I have done my best--I have done the best for my son. My life was no failure!’” (117). In summation, Frankl says, “Viewing her life as if from her deathbed, she had suddenly been able to see a meaning in it, a meaning which even included all of her suffering” (117).
So far, in studying and exploring this first phase of “The Principles and Patterns of Building...Everything!” which is The Law of Organization, we have learned that we need to 1.) deepen our awareness and increase our capacity to make better choices. 2.) We have spent a few minutes thinking about what is most important to us and 3.) have selected just one of these things to focus on. As a final exercise, 4.) I want you to imagine that it’s not 50 years into the future but just 5 to 10 years. You have taken the single focus you have written down today and worked at it. You’ve made great improvements.
Take a minute to write what you imagine your life is like in 5 to 10 years from now because you kept working toward your vision. Include as much detail as possible including obstacles you might face and how you will address them. Write it down. It might also be helpful first to acknowledge, like Frankl’s client, what life might look like in five to ten years if you don’t do anything about it before you do this exercise. The possibility of negative consequences, in the event of dissociation or through inactivity, can also be motivating to discover what you really want. You may choose to do this exercise twice, once from the perspective of working toward your objective and then from the perspective of neglecting it.
What did you learn about yourself through writing? What are the next steps you naturally need to take to start a new track or to stay on the track of growth you're already on?
The Principle of Beginning with the End in Mind is the last principle in the greater Law of Organization. Here is a visual recap of all four principles:
The Law of Organization, the Law of Preparation, and the Law of Establishment all constitute the greater topic: “The Principle and Patterns of How to Build...Everything!” These past four blog posts have covered The Law of Organization which is mindset based and follows the idea that all things are created first spiritually (with the heart and mind) before they are created physically (with the body and mind).
All creation begins in the imagination.
In addition to this primary idea, are supporting beliefs that make organization in the imagination much more effective and powerful. They are contrary to the nihilist philosophies that have consciously or subconsciously infiltrated our culture producing the temptation to embrace victim-mentalities. This is not to say the victimhood doesn’t exist. Clearly, it does. But being a victim of another’s violence, selfishness, ignorance, or criminal behavior is not the same as embracing a victim mentality, which I encourage resisting with as much power as one would resist all forms of victimization. The supporting principles that undergird the Law of Organization are these:
I have power to act: to build or to destroy, to say yes or say no, to create or live with the status quo, to learn or deny learning. I choose and I am accountable for what I do and what I choose. I am the creative force of my own life. Without belief in these principles, there is no Empowerment Movement that has become such a popular buzzword. Frankl, in Man’s Search for Meaning, irrevocably states: “Everything can be taken from a man but one thing: the last of the human freedoms—to choose one’s attitude in any given set of circumstances, to choose one’s own way.” In this context “to choose one’s own way” refers to choosing one’s response especially under conditions of unavoidable suffering.
There are conditions when our power to act and to choose is either limited or withdrawn such as in the case of criminal behavior and where the rights of others are threatened or impinged. These conditions are of great interest to many and are both debated and tested in political circles, in legislation, in family relationships, and in the often unspoken Social Contract of all people which leads to societal norms and which create cultures.
Victimhood vs. Victim Mentality
There is a vast chasm between victimhood and victim mentality. Victimhood involves being hurt by others' decisions. Victim mentality turns that hurt into personal identity. Victimhood is the damage others do to us. Victim mentality is the damage we do to ourselves. With this understanding in mind, let me share a closing thought on the subject:
Victim mentality endangers inner peace, stunts potential for growth, and ultimately makes its believers susceptible to those who profit most from this cruel doctrine. These principles teach a clear rejection and a rebuke of all victim mentalities.
As a matter of fact, Frankl himself spent a great deal of his life teaching according to these supporting principles. He says, “When we are no longer able to change a situation, we are challenged to change ourselves.”
Let me share with you one of my favorite poems on this particular subject written by English poet, editor, and critic William Ernest Henley (1849-1903) found at poetryfoundation.org:
Out of the night that covers me,
Black as the pit from pole to pole,
I thank whatever gods may be
For my unconquerable soul.
In the fell clutch of circumstance
I have not winced nor cried aloud.
Under the bludgeonings of chance
My head is bloody, but unbowed.
Beyond this place of wrath and tears
Looms but the Horror of the shade,
And yet the menace of the years
Finds and shall find me unafraid.
It matters not how strait the gate,
How charged with punishments the scroll,
I am the master of my fate,
I am the captain of my soul.
At age 12 Henley was diagnosed with tubercular arthritis that necessitated the amputation of one of his legs just below the knee at age 18 the same year his father, who was a struggling bookseller, died. By the age of 24, it was recommended that his other foot be amputated also, but the other leg was saved only through a radical surgery performed by Joseph Lister but which required Henley to spend 3 years in the hospital's infirmary. As he healed, Henley began to write poems, including “Invictus” which was written during his hospitalization. Henley’s response to suffering is the context of this poem. When he says, “I am the master of my fate,” amid great physical suffering, he is rejecting victim mentality. When he says, “I am the captain of my soul,” he claims emotional, mental, and spiritual responsibility in the face of an inevitably life-altering, physical affliction. With this poem, Henley pledges to organize his heart and mind despite any “fell [terrible or deadly force] clutch of circumstance,” or “the bludgeonings of chance.”
I’m amazed by his courage but I believe the underlying principles that support his response:
I have power to act
I have power to choose
I have power to create
I am accountable for this power
Let’s go back to a quote I included earlier from Viktor Frankl but, this time, let's include the brief story preceding it:
“We who lived in concentration camps can remember the men who walked through the huts comforting others, giving away their last piece of bread. They may have been few in number, but they offer sufficient proof that everything can be taken from a man but one thing: the last of the human freedoms -- to choose one's attitude in any given set of circumstances, to choose one's own way.”
I have workshops that teach all these principles and patterns in greater depth with printable, in-depth workbooks that invite greater personalization through participation. This particular post comes from my BEAUTIFUL LIVING Master Series class: “The Principles and Patterns of How to Build...Everything!” It can be done in either a do-it-yourself formula or live through Zoom, or at a conference or school gatherings. Please email me for more information to suit your personal needs, the needs of your family, or of your group or organization at firstname.lastname@example.org. I’d love to help you, and those you influence, learn principles that help us all enjoy greater levels of fulfillment, connection, and productivity and learn to...
Heather Roberts Butler
Founder and CEO of BEAUTIFUL LIVING, LLC
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