New York Times best-selling author Iyanla Vanzant knows a thing or two about struggle. For years, the spiritual coach, former kindergarten teacher and criminal defense lawyer faced struggles from just about everyone she sought to serve during her professional career … not to mention her own.
“I will say as an attorney, you coach people through legal problems,” she reflects. “I was ordained as a minister where you kind of coach people through spiritual problems and then in the world, there was born a field or career path called life coaching. So I studied that to see what that was.”
Once Vanzant embraced her purpose of being a servant of God, things became more clearer for her regarding not just her life path, but how she is to be an instrument for the Creator. Here are five things learned from my talk with the prolific author and Iyanla: Fix My Life host:
On being compelled by God to serve:
I wouldn’t say that I’ve always been compelled to help other people. I would say I’ve been guided to serve God. God serves people and since God supports people, I think with all the work in my life, I’ve always been led to be in service. My first service is service to God, and God has sent me to serve other people.
On being clear on your purpose:
Once I became clear that my purpose in life was to become a teacher, and that teaching didn’t necessarily take place in a classroom, I think that that guided and directed me. I don’t know if we fight against our destiny. I don’t think we are clear about why we do and what we do. We socialize and get educated to get a job and get money and try to use our skills, talents gifts and abilities to get a job that will pay us the most money, so that you can pay your bills and have more left over [laughs]. But when you talk about living your purpose, you’re getting clear about why you do what you do beyond making money! I think that that’s what gives us greater meaning in life and greater joy in life. So I happen to be fortunate enough that I was able to identify my purpose early on. Of course, you have to refine it, master it and shift it along the way, but I’ve always known that I would be the teacher or healer.
On her new book, Get Over It: Thought Therapy for Healing the Hard Stuff:
The book is actually a process on how to change the way you think. That’s the bottom line. Because what I’ve learned, what I know, what I’ve lived …everything that goes on in your life is a function of how you think. From the corns on your toes to the black hair on the top of your head …it’s a function of how you think. Now people, particularly Black people, we want to dismiss that: “Oh, you think I’m bald cuz I’m thinking the wrong way?” No it’s not just that. It’s how you think and how the energy of those thoughts moves throughout your body. It’s how people taught you to think. It’s how people around you thought about you that then influences how you think about you. So Get Over It is a process of changing how your think and shifting, transmuting and transforming the current in your body caused by unconscious habitual thought. It’s thought therapy. It’s an energy created by the mind and any balance or stability. So this is the process designed to change the energy created in your body by thought so that you will be balanced in your living.
On what thought therapy is:
Through 18 books, I’ve given people information and, for many, that information has kept them right where they are [laughs]. In this book, I’m giving people work to do. You can’t just read this; you’ve gotta do this, you’ve gotta practice this, you’ve gotta work with this if you want to change. If you don’t want to change, then you just read it like a book. When I recognized how upset people were about the 2016 election, that’s really when I said, “OMG. I don’t understand.” People were feeling so afraid, helpless, hopeless and upset about the results of the election without really understanding that they created this. There’s nothing in the world that isn’t created by a thought. Our thoughts are collective and that creates the energy. One person had this whole country upset and in turmoil. I was like, “You gotta be kidding me.” So what it reminded me of is how unconscious we are about the power of our minds and how unconscious we are about our dominant negative thought patterns until they manifest as an experience. Once we have the experience then we become aware, but until then, we’re not aware of our dominant negative thought patterns. For example, take people who say all the time, ‘I’m broke. I’m broke. I’m broke.’ And they stay broke. Or, ‘I’m tired. I’m tired. I’m tired.’ And they never seem to get rest. Dominant thought patterns …we gotta get over those.”
On inspiration for our readers:
Particularly for people of color, never underestimate and be willing to invest in the power of your mind. That’s the ticket to anything and everything because that’s what’s going to lead to your experiences. That’s what’s going to build character. That’s what’s going to resolve your issues and challenges. That’s what’s going to transmute and change your pathology. Don’t underestimate the power of your mind, and be willing to invest in the power of each and every thought that you have.
Iyanla Vanzant’s latest book, Get Over It: Thought Therapy for Healing the Hard Stuff is available everywhere today. Catch her on Saturdays on the OWN network. Check your local listings for air times.