Tuesday, September 4, 2012

Preserving and celebrating your authentic self

This life journey that we travel is such an interesting path.  We all start with our own roadmap that is unique to each of us and we have the ability to make changes in that roadmap as we learn and discover who we are and where we want to go.  There are so many opportunities that present themselves to each of us every day and the choices we make and the way we think shape who we are.  I have always thought if everyone was just like me what a terribly boring place the earth would be.  It is the richness in diversity of thought that truly makes each of us different from one another.  Throughout my life journey there are certain aspects of myself that have not changed and that is the core of my being.  That core of my being represents who I really am and is the foundation for my authentic self.  As I have grown older and embraced all the experiences that life has placed before me, I have learned to appreciate the unexpected detours in my roadmap.  These detours have always caught me off guard and have been some of life's most challenging moments.  As I ponder those challenging life moments I realize it is these unexpected detours that have given me opportunities to discover my authentic self.  Without life's challenges how would we really know who we are and what we are made of?

From the time I was in my 20's, which was the 1970's, I have pondered the wisdom that stereotypes are a bad thing.  When I consider stereotypes I do believe that making statements that categorize people can be damaging in the context that this is who they are rather than a component of a whole.  Stereotypes is the brain's method of creating categories in order to organize an otherwise chaotic volume of information.  Many people are drawn to groups, because that creates a sense of belonging.  The critical function of support groups cannot be denied, but that too is about a category, a sense of belonging, and could be labeled a stereotype.  So maybe the connotation that the word stereotype evokes suggests a narrow-minded point of view.  Gaining an understanding of all the components that make up the whole that is you is valuable throughout your life journey and in becoming your authentic self.

Throughout my life I can recall encounters with people that have thought  I should change who I am.  As we learn and evaluate who we are we may choose to strive toward integrating characteristics that we admire.  Depending on the magnitude of that endeavor we have varying levels of success.  There are times when we may not have much success at all, because we may be attempting to unknowingly change the very core that is the foundation for our authentic self.  One of my characteristics that I have attempted to change throughout my entire life and have been completely unsuccessful is the intense and passionate reactions that I have to life circumstances and experiences.  I have been acquainted with others that are cool, calm, collected and even-tempered about everything around them and I have longed to emulate these people.  This has not worked out for me at all.  The constant bombardment of the energies and auras around me have interfered with my sense of calm.  This bombardment only stokes the fire of my emotions and results in passionate responses.  I am able to curtail my responses for the time being, but the need for an outlet of the excessive energy I absorb throughout a day can result in meltdowns if I don't carefully channel that energy.  I am still working at how to channel this absorbed energy that bounces around inside me like an incessant game of pinball.

I recently wrote about sensitive people that are emotionally and physically sensitive and that these people frequently develop fibromyalgia.  I follow a blog site ( that has discussed cognitive and physical sensitivity and stereotyping.  The blog's author has endured the challenges of fibromyalgia for the last 40 years.  She is a true veteran of this war we all fight together.  Her name is Barbara Keddy, BSc.N., M.A., Ph.D., Professor Emerita, School of Nursing, Dalhousie University, Halifax, Nova Scotia, Canada.  Professor Keddy is searching for the answers we all seek in an effort to help ourselves and the people in the trenches with us.  Professor Keddy wrote in her blog post titled Fibromyalgia, labelling and the brain about her concerns that people with fibromyalgia are stereotyped as too sensitive and neurotic.  She also discusses the concept that people have the ability to change their brains, which is a task that requires a monumental effort.  The book on this subject cited in her blog post is The Woman who Changed her Brain.  I enjoy listening to and reading theories and research, because this always gets the wheels in my brain turning.  Reading about the sensitive person unknowingly channeling their sensitivity into painful stimuli and the wisdom of changing how the brain receives sensory information makes perfect sense when evaluated intellectually.  But these concepts evoked an emotional response in me that brought back all the encounters with people that thought I should change who I am.  Corporate America and business dictates that emotional responses are not allowed and are a sign of weakness.  People that demonstrate an emotional response to events are often criticized, especially if these people are women.  People that are sensitive to their surroundings and the people in it have a specialized set of skills that have so much value.  The problem with our culture in the U.S. is that this valuable skill set is not often valued.  The U.S. culture values the Lone Ranger style of individualism and rejects the soft skills that emotional intelligence offers.  This creates additional stress in sensitive people that must attempt to "belong" to a culture that values rugged individualism instead of feeling valued for the core of their authentic self.  Why would we want to change who we fundamentally are?

I would like to propose a different paradigm; a paradigm that values the authentic core that lies in the heart and brain of sensitive people.  The sensitivity we have to the energies of others around us should be embraced and celebrated.  The limiting stereotypes that others may place upon us define who they are and their struggle to organize information; not who we are.  We belong to a subset of the population that has a special love, caring and empathy for all living things and this drives a fervent passion that lies at the very core of our souls.  What we really need is to learn how to channel that incredibly powerful inflow of energy we receive every day.  We need to be better grounded so we may spare ourselves and be better equipped to use the gifts we have been blessed with.  So, I am on a quest to discover the secret of how to harness this gift and develop the ability to simultaneously care for ourselves.  Because what the world really needs is more of the loving, caring and compassionate energy flow that we offer out to others every day.  Blessings to you each and every day!

This is my monkey; she has been with me for the last 52 years.  She wears a shabby chic hat and has witnessed all my life events.  She always wears that wise smile!
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