The more I write about self and relationships, the more I sense that we are never just ourselves. My history clearly shows my brothers, sister, and parents’ influences on me. I am not them, to be sure, but I am not without them in one way or another. All of which will be the point of this paper.
We are multiple beings that meet life each day. We are not unlike an orchestra with various instruments meant to be in harmony with each other while connected to its conductor. This arrangement may also bring conflict, whether conscious or not, between those who want to be dominant and others who also wish to play this role.
For years I studied, thought, and taught to help people be themselves. The idea that multiple selves exist within us was one that never entered my mind. Now, for the first time, it does because I am an old man searching my past. As I do so, I’ve become more aware than ever before that I am a product of my history. Mostly, this is not my doing. But as a result of to whom born, my family, and the environment in which we co-existed.
Creating a constructive environment is one of the ways a leader can help and nurture another. I made sure that people under my power and influence had the time and space to be the same person as often as possible. I was always aware that while with others, they may have struggled to be their best selves.
The problem is that many of the most painful experiences are continuous experiences, often impossible to mediate even with the best of help. Navigating through emotional “muck and mire” is also a constant experience. This is why I have always advocated for Genuine Dialogue. At its minimum, this meant “being in the present, listening, confirming what one understands and speaking with candor.”
I am me, or who? –I will not be my brothers—And not my parents.