Shifting Personal Paradigms by Lloyd Thomas

The term “paradigm shift” was coined by Thomas Kuhn in his now classic book, “The Structure of Scientific Revolutions” published in 1968. Kuhn demonstrated how almost every signi­ficant change in science begins with a break in the old way scientists conceptualize the way things are” (the old para­digms).

For example, the great Egyptian astronomer, Ptolemy, be­lieved the earth was the center of the universe. Along came Copernicus, believing the sun did not move through the sky, but that the earth moved around the sun…and a scientific revolution took place. The old paradigm was overthrown, or at least shifted to account for the new information. A new map was created and everything took on a different interpretation. Now almost every­one believes that it is “true” that the earth goes around the sun, and not vice versa. But this is also just a map. The whole question is one of perspective. Both the earth and sun are suspended in empty space. If you were viewing the earth from the sun, the earth would seem to rotate around you. If you viewed the sun from the earth, the sun would seem to rotate around you. From another paradigm, both the earth and sun are suspended in empty space. Their motions are caught up in the larger rota­tional motion of the galaxy, and the galaxy itself is rushing away from the source of the Big Bang at a tremendous speed. It is all in a point of view, and as we have seen, your point of view is your current interpretation based upon your particular map of the universe.

Stephen Covey, a highly regarded business consultant relates the following story:

“I remember a mini—paradigm shift I experienced one Sunday morning on a subway in New York. People were sitting quietly—— some reading newspapers, some lost in thought, some resting with their eyes closed. It was a calm, peaceful scene.

“Then suddenly, a man and his children entered the subway car. The children were so loud and rambunctious that instantly the whole climate changed.

“The man sat down next to me and closed his eyes, apparently oblivious to the situation. The children were yelling back and forth, throwing things, even grabbing people’s papers. It was very disturbing. And yet, the man sitting next to me did nothing.

“It was difficult not to feel irritated. I could not be­lieve that he could be so insensitive as to let his children run wild like that and do nothing about it, taking no responsibility at all. It was easy to see that everyone else on the subway felt irritated, too. So finally, with what I felt was unusual patience and restraint, I turned to him and said, ‘Sir, your children are really disturbing a lot of people. I wonder if you couldn’t control them a little more?’

“The man lifted his gaze as if to come to a consciousness of the situation for the first time and said softly, ‘Oh, you’re right. I guess I should do something about it. We just came from the hospital where their mother died about an hour ago. I don’t know what to think, and I guess they don’t know how to handle it either.’

“Can you imagine what I felt at that moment? My paradigm shifted. Suddenly I saw things differently, and because I saw differently, I thought differently, I felt differently, I behaved differently~. My irritation vanished. I didn’t have to worry about controlling my attitude or my behavior; my heart was filled with the man’s pain. Feelings of sympathy and compassion flowed freely. ‘Your wife just died? Oh, I’m so sorry! Can you tell me about it? What can I do to help?’ Everything changed in an instant.”

From:  “The 7 Habits Of Highly Effective People” by Stephen Covey

I submit to you that can make change your “path of least resistance.” You change simply and easily when you MODIFY YOUR BASIC PARADIGMS (MAPS) ABOUT YOURSELF, YOUR BODY, YOUR LIFE AND YOUR DEATH. And those cognitive habits most in need of modification are YOUR EARLY—DEVELOPED VIEWS OF THE WORLD…YOUR CHILDHOOD COGNITIVE MAPS. PERCEPTUAL SHIFTS YOU MAY WISH TO MAKE:

  • From fear to love;
  • From anger to joy;
  • From defense to trust;
  • From hiding to expressiveness;
  • From “victim” to choice;
  • From closed to openness;
  • From mind control to “heart” control;
  • From analysis to intuition;
  • From performance (doing) to being;
  • From reactivity to “proactivity;”
  • From response to flowing;
  • From external control to internal control to no control;
  • From living by “works” to living by faith to living by grace;
  • From darkness to light;
  • From knowledge to wisdom;
  • From narrowness to expansion;
  • From sleep (dream) to consciousness (awareness);
  • From body/mind to Spirit;
  • From judgment to acceptance.


Lloyd Thomas, Ph.D. is a longstanding member of the Fort Collins Rotary Club, a licensed psychologist and a life coach. We asked him if we could use this piece on paradigms that he had written for his regular newsletter. Contact him if you would like to receive his newsletters. He can be reached through email:

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