Engaging in a regular transformative practice will bring up many opportunities to work with your inner authoritarian structures. If we don’t work with those structures, then we may end up reinforcing an old regime that is in serious need of a revolution. We all have inner authoritarians. We internalized them mainly from our parents, but also from the culture around us. When we were young children, some of us had wise, benevolent, loving kings and queens for parents. Some of us had cruel despots. Most of us had parents somewhere in between.

A person can go very far with a practice without ever working on that inner authority. I’m thinking of Andre Agassi. His father amounted to a narcissistic despot, and Andre thoroughly internalized that tyrant. Andre mastered tennis by pushing himself mercilessly. His intense daily practice of competitive tennis utterly transformed his life.

However, he reached a point in his life where he was miserable. He was one of the world’s best tennis players, but the rest of his life was in shambles. In an interview, he revealed that he had always hated tennis. He never enjoyed it. He decided that he was either going to find a way to love tennis and make it his own (not his father’s) or he was going to quit.

I remember seeing Andre play after he had transformed. At the time, I didn’t know his story. And I was very surprised. I watched him for 5 minutes without recognizing him, and I did a double take when I saw the caption under his image. I had never liked Andre 1.0. But, I immediately liked Andre 2.0. He was a new person. He had shaved off his hair. He played differently. He was much more humble. You could tell that he was playing with heart. There was a depth to him that had been lacking before.

Transformative practices will transform you. But, if they are founded on a kind of inner fascism, they will prove to be unsustainable. Ultimately they will not thrive, or cause you to thrive. If they are founded on an open heart; if they are practiced in a loving and kind way, well then, your practices and you will flourish.