Twelve Principles to Create Healthy Change

by | Jan 6, 2020

Jean Burgess first introduced me to the twelve principles in 2007. I’ll forever remember the brisk, fall, day when I knocked on her front door. At the time, I was a scared young woman in my early thirties, afraid to admit my life was falling apart. Although on the surface, my life appeared perfect, it was not the storybook I showcased it to be. My marriage was a mess, my children frequently watched their father and myself fight, and I was not happy with my job. Fear took over, and as I turned from Jean’s front door to walk towards my truck and leave, the door opened. Jean’s feet were surrounded by several little barking dogs, which she calmly settled down as she welcomed me into her home. Jean invited me to sit down and gave me a safe space to openly talk. Throughout our conversation, she asked me what became the most important question anyone has ever asked me. “What do you want?” I never really considered this before. What do I want? With consistent self-work, and Jean’s twelve principles as my guide; eventually, I answered this question.

Looking back, meeting with Jean that beautiful North Idaho fall day was the first day I allowed myself to start living a truly authentic life. Through relationship and experience, Jean patiently taught me the concepts of the twelve principles she lives her life by. As I incorporated what I was learning into my daily living, slowly, my thoughts began to change, which in turn transformed my life. I went from someone being unaware and guided only by what society taught me to become the individual my creator designed to be. I slowly peeled back the societal messages and eventually began to hear my voice. By incorporating these principles into my life, I finally allowed God to bridge the gap between my thoughts and my heart. Although connecting my thoughts to my heart became the longest journey I traveled, it is the path that allowed me to discover my soul.

Are you ready to discover your soul? Let me guide you through a twelve-part series clearly defining and deconstructing each of the twelve principles. First, let’s discuss Jean’s
Principle #1.

Principle #1

I will be 100 percent responsible for myself and to others 100 percent of the time

The keywords in this principle are for and to. These two words have very different meanings as they relate to responsibility while in a relationship with self and others.

Being responsible for one’s self is when the purpose or intended goal is the responsibility for one’s self and only one’s self. Regardless of how much we try, we cannot be responsible for others; yet, we can be responsible to them. When people believe they can be responsible for another’s thoughts, feelings, or actions, they fall into the unhealthy behaviors of codependency. Repeat the following sentence out loud: The only individual’s thoughts, feelings, and actions I can be responsible for, is my own.

How is it that I’m responsible for my thoughts, feelings, and behaviors? This is an easy answer, yet a difficult call to action. To be responsible for one’s beliefs, one must first be willing to examine, and even dispute said thoughts. For instance, I may be frustrated; my child is late and did not call to let me know the reason. Is my frustration my child’s fault? No. My child cannot make me feel anything. My feelings are simply my own. The act of being late without calling is the action which sparked my thought, and then initiated feelings of frustration. In this case, I may want to examine my thoughts, which, in turn, could change my feelings. My initial internal thought is, “It’s rude they didn’t call and tell me they are going to be late,” which then initiated the feeling of frustration. However, as I dispute my thoughts, I might think, “Maybe they didn’t call because they had an accident.” The new feeling, fear. If I dispute this thought further, I might come up with, their cell phone is dead, and this is the reason they couldn’t call: the new feeling, peace. Get the picture? I can change my thoughts, which can change my feelings, which can, in turn, alter my behavioral response. With all this said, I am the one who is responsible for me.

On the other hand, being responsible to another person is when movement or action is taken towards that person. Therefore, being responsible to somebody can follow many forms. Taking action can come in the way of following through with the commitments made to the other person.

An example of being responsible to someone is; when I say I am going to do something, I do it. If a meeting is starting at 7:00 am, the meeting begins at 7:00 am, not before, not after. You can practice being responsible to others by following through with commitments, such as arriving on time, paying your debts on time, and responding to your emails or phone calls promptly (the latter is one I can work on). If you cannot follow through with a commitment, be accountable to them by making the necessary effort to notify the other person. For example, “I apologize, I will not be on time to the meeting. Please start without me.” No excuses needed; simply take responsibility for your actions and be responsible to those whom your actions affect. Remember, when we are responsible to someone, we encourage, empower, and support, not enable. Enabling disables.

Putting it into practice:

  1. What are the ways you have been responsible for yourself this week?
  2. How do you practice being responsible to others?
  3. What are the ways you’ve been responsible to people?
  4. What are the ways you “try” to be responsible for people? Does it work?



This principle seems simple; yet for so many people, it can be challenging to apply. Life, whether we like it or not, can get messy, stressful, and overwhelming. During times when life gets messy, is when it is most important to nurture and love ourselves even more. Having fun is different for everyone, for my husband it is training for obstacle course races, for me, it is reading another book, and for others, it might be going to a movie or taking a long hot bath. Regardless of how you choose to nurture yourself and have fun, it is necessary for our physical, emotional, and mental well-being.

Putting it into practice:

• Think about when you were a child, what did you enjoy doing? Practice implementing fun childhood things into your daily life, such as art, playing board games, reading, building a snowman, or eating gooey s’mores.

• What are the ways you like to relax or nurture yourself? Set aside time each day to incorporate relaxation and nurturing into your life.

If you are ready to take a deeper dive into the rest of the principles as well as get transformational tools to help alter your habits, shift your beliefs, and live with purpose. Click here:

1 Comment

  1. Colleen

    Hi, I am interested in learning more.


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