March 01, 2011

Mission Impossible?

Not at all!

Recently I have had a number of experiences that culminated in the thoughts I am having this morning. A few years ago I developed a personal and professional mission statement. Over time I streamlined it into three words: Live with authenticity.

During a number of conversations over the past two weeks I have been in discussion with people who use that word. Authenticity.

What does that mean? Perhaps, something different to each person, but for me authenticity means living out loud. It means that people see and get the same person. The best litmus test for knowing if I am living with authenticity would be that everyone I know and who knows me be together in the same room at the same time and I be unafraid.

Unafraid because I am only one person and I am consistently that person. Constantly, in the process of recovering my life and at the same time working in a profession that helps others recover, I have been met different ideas on how a person in this profession expresses their personal ideals, values, issues, and life. For me it has changed a great deal from the beginning until now. Which, feels precisely as it should.

Today I have no shame about the life I lived, the experiences I have had and the distance I have come. I do not regret all decisions and circumstance. I have learned much, especially from the struggles, that I would want it no other way. I have come to embrace my flaws as eagerly as my positive power, on most occasions.

I have taught students becoming counselors, spoken around the world to others in the profession, supervised interns and others. At one time in my life I might have believed that I needed to be a certain kind of person as a result. Possibly, worry about my appearance (and I don’t mean my hair), if you will. Saying the right things, doing the right things and being the right person at all times. I realize that because of these relationships people do look to me for advice and guidance and I greatly appreciate that kind of trust. However, never do I want to present an image of being perfect, having all answers or being anything more than fallible. In order to be the person I am I must live with authenticity in all of my relationships.

After a period of nearly three years of personal strife married to many conversations with other professionals related to our “helping profession” these thoughts came to me…..if the personal strife is exactly what we help others through, why on earth do we hold it against one another when “we” (helping professionals) go through it ourselves? From these thoughts I developed a workshop called The Biased Helper? Moving from Impaired Vision to Insight. While I am still gathering empirical data, most of this workshop is based on the BOP (Book of Paula). For those of you who don’t know….the BOP is what I call data I have gathered through personal experience rather than qualitative or quantitative data.

More to come…..

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