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Where Authenticity Meets Vulnerability

The word ‘Authenticity’ and the phrase ‘Be Your Authentic Self’ have become extremely popularized in recent times in a world which is supercharged by intolerance. Intolerance is a significant impediment to Authenticity.

In our day to day existence, we are faced with the dilemma of either being honest about who we are and possibly risk ostracism and isolation, or being forced to pretend to be ‘someone else’ or ‘something else’ to gain acceptance, or to avoid discrimination. This dilemma arises in response to perceived, and often times real, societal norms and expectations that dictate how we should look, behave, or even dream!

The dissonance that results from this disconnect has had untold negative impacts on the affected individuals for generations. The different coping mechanisms adopted by individuals in response sometimes compound the situation, often leading to tragic outcomes.

When we shape our expectations of others solely on the basis of their background, we sometimes inadvertently treat them based on the expectations that our stereotypes dictate. This discourages authenticity.

O. N. Rowe

When we are intolerant of others based on how they are different than we consider ourselves to be, this discourages authenticity. When we deny others the freedom and opportunity they deserve to express their individuality and all that this entails, this inhibits authenticity.

In fact, I believe when we take the stance that our personal characteristics, circumstances, backgrounds or experiences make us in any way superior to others, we are being arrogant, self-righteous, narrow-minded and disrespectful.

Everyone, regardless of differences, have a right to be their authentic self without fear of repercussions. However, as a starting point, we all need to be honest about who we really are, vis a vis who we portray ourselves to be. We need to be willing to be vulnerable!

O. N. Rowe

Authenticity in its real sense removes the clutter from our psyche and provides the clarity of purpose that unleashes the power within us to accomplish our dreams, regardless of how ‘different’ they happen to be.


Profile in Courage: Recognize The Courage In You (Pt. 3 of 7)

Just because something might be harder for you to do, or take you longer to do, is not a reason to avoid the challenge. In fact, a willingness to take on a challenge despite the obvious difficulties it will present, demonstrates a greater act of courage than any accomplishment by someone for whom it would be considered ‘easy.’

Courage is when you don’t see the full way ahead, but you start anyway. Courage is when you decide that instead of putting your life into someone else’s hand, you are going to take charge and set about building the best life you can. Courage is leaving an abusive relationship even though you don’t know how you will make ends meet. Courage is leaving your comfort zone in pursuit of your dream.

Ascribing to yourself – or to others – a level of courage, success, or even effort solely on the basis of meeting a specific goal is to miss the fact that courage at times is not tangible. In other words, you cannot judge something someone does as having been ‘courageous’ just because they do something. I believe that courage is to be assessed by factors that are often internal to the person experiencing a particular fear or trepidation.

It is therefore not fair to deny yourself the satisfaction of each small step you make; it is not fair to deny yourself the patience you need when you have tried and failed; it is not fair to deny yourself the forgiveness you need when you ‘fall off the wagon’ and are back at Day One in your tracking; it is not fair to deny yourself the opportunity you need to grow into someone you can be proud of, recognizing that you are not yet who you want to be but you are working on it – you are working on YOU!

It is not fair to deny yourself the freedom you need to recognize and celebrate your victories as you go about exercising the courage you have within you.


A Perspective on Forgiveness

‘Some things are unforgivable.’ For some this view is deep-rooted and will be hard to change. After all, the emotional and/or physical pain which results from an action by someone you trusted, but who has betrayed such trust, are not easily healed. This is, admittedly, a normal, logical and justifiable human perspective to take. The saying ‘who feels it knows it’ is all too true for those who have experienced, endured and sometimes miraculously survived acts of betrayal or any of a number of untold hurt. For such persons, who can blame them for holding such a view?

For such persons, it is understandable that they view extending forgiveness to be a case of ‘giving someone something they do not deserve.’ And that can be totally understandable because, let’s face it: the nature of some actions (or even words) directed against us can make them excruciatingly painful to experience and could be deemed ‘unforgivable’ to even the most forgiving of persons!

However, choosing not to forgive is really a case of us choosing to prolong the hurting, by holding on to the pain we experienced. Over time, we will find that we are actually hurting ourselves more than we are hurting the person who did us wrong, and whom we find it so very hard to forgive.

It may sound contradictory, but choosing to forgive someone who has wronged us is actually a real case of giving OURSELVES what we deserve. Choosing to forgive empowers us to move on and releases us from the deadly poison that would otherwise have been festering inside us. Yes – choosing to forgive is choosing freedom from the anger and the pain, disappointment, or even fear, that we otherwise continue to experience.

This is not to suggest that forgiveness is easy! On the contrary, it is because it is so difficult that we have so many cases of people carrying out acts of violence in the name of revenge, that for others will appear so out of character; some, even years later! This is why some persons have chosen to destroy their own lives just for the ‘satisfaction’ of seeing someone pay for what they did. This is why for some, trusting others becomes nearly impossible.

The irony about forgiveness is that with forgiveness it is the giver, rather than the recipient, who benefits most. So go ahead and DARE to forgive someone today. YOU deserve it and you might just find it to be an act of administering well-deserved healing, while also being beautifully liberating.

Photo Credit: Kathy DeGraw