DHHS CONFERENCE, 2011 HANDOUT 1
WORKSHOP: Being Authentic: It’s a Balancing Act
PRESENTER: Dr. Candace Cole-McCrea
An enormous amount of research stresses that the quality of our interaction with persons strongly affects present and future quality of life for them as well as for ourselves. This workshop focuses on how to maximize qualities in our interactions which are most likely to impact interpersonal relationships in a way that demonstrates our humanness, that maximizes potential, that teaches and shares authenticity.
I have been very impacted by Gandhi’s statement that we often confuse means with ends. I propose that we have confused the means (effective communication skills to change behaviors) with the ends (authentic relationship building). Symptoms of confusing the means with ends have been blamed on many variables other than the quality of the relationship, most usually personal characteristics of the persons we serve.
The symptoms I propose as a confusion of means and ends are symptoms with which we have all struggled and succumbed at some points in our careers. We all know it can be highly stressful to work with those who suffer, whose lives never seem to “improve”. We may identify, wish to “make things right”, fear for ourselves or our own loved ones, or feel a sense of helplessness. People we try to help may project intense fear and dependency, which may challenge professional boundaries. We may experience “burn-out” or compassion fatigue, be vicariously victimized by the stories we hear, or become enmeshed, overinvolved or cold and distant. Depression and grief can haunt us. To save ourselves, we can become “clinical”….to do so is to have lost our way.
I offer the following poem by Birger Sellin, a person who lives a marginalized life, to bring us to a place of remembering what we are here for.
- Really understanding is an important step seeing how
Just why people do as they do
Perhaps do things for sensible reasons
Do what is right
But how can a person really know
What a sensible reason is
How can a person know
How things work
Dr. Candace Cole-McCrea—Authenticity --2
If he is shut out of society
And doesn’t know important words properly
All on his own
He puts together wonderful explanations for himself
Totally crazy rough hewn answers
Buckets full of garbage
Just to get some understanding is my aim
Understanding and human experience
I’ve rediscovered a burning hunger for knowledge from
A hunger for the ideal right conduct
A passionate desire
To be one with people who know
To be one with the ordinary people who lead lives without
Just like a valuable essential respected other person like a
Person with dignity
And beings like others
Like sweet important children who are loved by everybody
Although they do really silly things
Like a simple really important wonderful being a child
Chosen in the world
To lead a happy life resolutely in joy
Like anybody else
Dr. Candace Cole-McCrea—Authenticity--3
Like a simple person functioning okay
From: I don’t Want to Be Inside Me Anymore Birger Sellin, Basic Books. 1995
HOW DO WE SHARE LIFE WITH THIS MAN? HOW DO WE BECOME MORE THAN ‘THE OTHER’ TO HIM? HOW DO WE SHARE OUR MINDS WITH EACH OTHER? HOW DO WE LIVE INCLUSION AS MORE THAN A PRACTICAL, MECHANICAL, LEGAL DEFINITION?
What happens if we surrender the god of professional behavior: friendliness with detachment? Pseudo warmth with barriers? How can we keep needed boundaries and still reach through the mazes of human experience to reach and hold another? Has our professional ideal really served us as ideal or have we simply condemned those who could not reach us across the barriers and hurdles we put in their way? Is there another way?
HOW DO WE BECOME AUTHENTIC? HOW DO WE SHARE AUTHENTICITY?
- Free Choice. We have to choose to be with another, and not let their behavior determine our choices for us. We have to choose.
- Moralness. Authenticity is a moral experience in that it is a true expression of our personal integrity. Authenticity is being ourselves, not our roles.
- Acceptance. Acceptance of ourselves and others must underlie all authentic experience. Becoming conscious of our own judgmentalism and righteousness is a prerequisite.
- Self-Responsibility. We feel totally and fully responsible for ourselves when we are authentic with another.
- Attentiveness. We cannot be authentically involved if we are not listening. Hearing is not listening. Responding before we deeply experience is not listening.
- Risk-taking. To risk the insecurity of not knowing what the other really wants of us makes authenticity more likely.
- Presence. Authenticity involves an experiential commitment that is not diluted by time, even when our time together is limited. It transcends time.
- Naturalness. Authenticity is natural when we have not been socialized to lose our way.
- Participation. Authenticity is increased in proportion to our willingness to surrender to our commonality.
- Personal Surrender. We allow the other the relational opportunity to be themselves with us without our agenda distorting and disabling our relating.
- Reciprocity. We share equally with each other…we share equally in our beingness.
- Engagement. Authenticity is a playful way of being, even when there is a structure and purpose to our meeting. It allows for serendipity.
- Systemic detachment. To be authentic, we must realize that we are not the systems in which we participate, in which we work.
Dr. Candace Cole-McCrea—4
- Creativity. Authenticity is a creative art. It is never the same twice. We submit to becoming an emerging self connecting to another emerging self. The end of the book of our lives has not been yet written.
Hughes, Claire.Social Understanding and Social Lives.Psychology Press. 2011
McGee, John J. and Frank Menolascino.Beyond Gentle Teaching:A Non- Aversive Approach to Helping Those in Need.Plenum Press. 1991
Musie, Graham.Nurturing Natures:Attachment and Children’s Emotional, Sociocultural and rain Development.Psychology Press. 2011
Seller, Birger. I Don’t Want to Be Inside Me Any More.Basic Books. 1995
Tulitz, Brett (ed).Early Interventions for Trauma and Traumatic Loss.Guilford Press.2004
Dr. Candace Cole-McCrea
Raptor’s Calling Inc.
60 Ford Farm Road
Milton NH 03851