The Willpower Myth
Deutschman calls the third component of successful change reframing, or thinking in a new way after forming the key relationship (relating, the first component) and gaining and practicing new skills (repeating, the second). For example, Bailey now understands that running a profitable practice doesn't make her any less of a healer. I now feel certain that my stories are worth telling. And in ex-con and social activist Heather Weigand's reframing, she now knows she is a good person.
When Weigand was arrested for the fourth time in 1999, she was a 36-year-old prostitute who had been using drugs for 20 years. As a repeat offender, she was facing a prison sentence of 18 years or more. Her attorney suggested she enter a program in the jail called Choices, which was for addicted inmates who wanted to break the cycle of addiction.
"A counselor named Cydney Reyes came to me when I was arrested, and I'm sure I was an absolute mess," Weigand says. "I remember how good she smelled, and she had these crystal blue eyes and said, 'Do you need some help?' I broke down and admitted I needed a lot of help.
"I got into the program and I stayed right up under her. I wanted to know how she lived and breathed and acted. She shared her story with me, and I thought, 'Wow, she was even worse than I was.' She worked with me every day, and I probably sucked her dry of every piece of energy she had. I remember the moment that she gave me a hug and whispered into my ear, 'You are such a good girl.' That was the moment I believed I really was a good girl and I could do good things with my life. From that moment on, I never looked back."
The list of good things Weigand went on to do sounds like fiction. She was sentenced to four years in prison and accepted it gratefully, becoming an example for the addicted women she found there with her strict adherence to the behaviors she learned from her mentor.
"I would hear her voice in my head. She said that we are fighting for our lives and we can't break even the smallest rule," Weigand explained.