Permission #5: Permission to Change

One of my favorite scenes from the musical Dream Girls is when Effie attempts a return to showbiz but after her career ended in part due to her diva reputation. Humbled and determined she belts out the gut wrenching I Am Changing to a club owner hoping he’ll believe her change of heart.

Look at me Look at me I am changing Trying every way I can I am changing I'll be better than I am.

What would you like to change? What is keeping you from making that change? I have found that fear is the biggest deterrent of change. Recently a gay man trapped in a marriage to his wife reached out to me for some support. He read my story and expressed his frustration with feeling stuck in a dead relationship at his wife’s request that he do so for “the greater good”. My question to him was “Whose greater good?” It certainly did not seem like he was included in the equation. On a weekly basis I receive communications like this. These questions resonate with me because I remember a time in my life when I felt trapped in the gay closet. I was married to a woman, raising our three children and pastoring a Baptist church. I hated who I was and my reality, but the prospect of changing it was overwhelming and terrifying.

What was I afraid of?

  • Afraid to get help.

  • Afraid to end the only career I had known.

  • Afraid to end my marriage.

  • Afraid of what others would think of me.

  • Afraid of what the impact on my children.

  • Afraid of losing all my friends and relationships.

  • Afraid of the unknown.

In tears I expressed my frustration to my friend and coach, Gloria Swardenski. She patiently and compassionately listened as I poured my heart out. Then she asked me three life-changing questions:

  1. What do you want?

  2. What are you afraid of?

  3. What is the worst that could happen?

When I allowed myself to get really honest with myself and to put words to my thoughts, dreams, and fears.

What did I want? I wanted to live an authentic life as my true self.

What was I afraid of? Losing everyone and everything I had known.

What is the worst that could happen? I’d have to create a new life for myself.

She then asked me, could you do that? And in that moment I realized the answer was yes. I can do this...I can change! It will be challenging, but it is within my power to change.

What is one thing you’d like to change? Give yourself permission to change. Once you have taken these two steps, then have a heart to heart with yourself and ask yourself the three questions.

One more thing: Get some help. Confide in a trusted friend. Hire a professional. People hire me to help them navigate change. Contact me for details.

I am changing Seeing everything so clear. I am changing. I'm gonna start right now right here. I'm hoping to work it out. And I know that I can But I need you I need a hand.

Joel Barrett

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Joel Speaks Out

Kansas City, MO