Series Two; Blog Eighty-Six
“Never underestimate the power of dreams and the influence of the human spirit. We are all the same in this notion: The potential for greatness lives within each of us.” – Wilma Rudolph
Most people would like to be considered as great. It is disappointing to realize that greatness comes back to being human. The ideal persona of a celebrity personality is often spoiled when you discover that the real person behind the identity is very different. It turns out that the celebrity was human after all.
We seem to desire to escape the human condition. We like the pictures we take of ourselves that make us look better than we really are. We want media to create ideal life scenarios and we want the people in those scenarios to be larger than life. Twelve-step communities can foster this perception of recovery. We like to lionize those who have long term sobriety or who have attended a particular meeting for many years. It represents a subtle escape from being human. There are old timers who testify to being sober for decades and are able to quote the recovery mantras and who seem to know all the answers to living sober. Frequently, those same old timers live in estranged partner relationships without the ability to translate what they know about sobriety to relational living.
There is a familiar mentality that suggests if you are sober that you have something that those who are not do not have. Those who don’t have sobriety struggle with their own ineptitude and conclude it is a mystery. The mystery is embracing the acceptance of being human. As the dust settles around 12-step recovery rooms, the holy grail is not so much how long you have been sober but how well you have been able to grasp the acceptance of being human. Do you find meaningfulness in who you are and understanding about your struggle with addiction? Yes, sobriety is not less important but what is more important is being able to accept your humanity, make meaningfulness from your failure, and bring yourself back to the center of your values. What does it mean to accept your humanness?
To be human is to listen. People like to study something and talk about it as if it is who they are or what they do but never live it. It’s true about recovery and spiritual practice, physical exercise, and a myriad of other life experiences. You can talk about love in many different ways. Paul Tillich suggests that the first duty of love is to listen. When you refuse to listen, you become obsessed with remaking the world in your own image, rather than opening the spirit within you to the spirit of what is. This applies to a relationship, recovery from addiction and your view of what is important. To truly listen is to risk being changed forever. Practicing being still enough to hear your heart is an acceptance of being human.
To be human is to show your heart and let others feel it: We live in such a dangerous and volatile world, which makes it difficult to be vulnerable and real. Politicians hide any and all flaws less they be criticized and rejected for making mistakes. These days pastors who commit blunders, public relations gaffes, or sexual impropriety are often rejected whether they work to heal their brokenness or not. They become a civil suit liability. So they too feel the pressure to refrain from showing their heart. Yet, people don’t trust you if they don’t think they can feel your heart. It can be costly but the only way to heal is to show your heart. Also, the doorway to intuition is through your heart. A sense of commitment to your own humanness is evident when you act on your heart intuition before you know where anything is going. It’s the expressed trust that is what listening to your heart is all about. Without jumping out of its nest, a bird would never learn to fly. When you show your heart, not only do others feel your humanness but it creates the intuition that teaches you to fly in recovery and life.
To be human means to be pruned and shaped. Pruning is such a painful experience. It is humbling and hurts the heart. It is found in business failure, the heartache of relationship loss in death or divorce, family cut offs, and a host of other ways. Pruning requires a certain spiritual perspective. In order for it to shape our lives it is necessary to find meaningfulness in human conditions that are less than ideal and create suffering. This involves leaning into human struggle. Only then will pruning shape our lives and the fruit of being human begins to grow.
To be human means that we all share the same river of suffering. We live in such a polarized world. We become so dualistic. If you don’t think the way I think, I should be suspicious of you. What if I healed my addiction without 12-steps, without EMDR and a host of other therapeutic modalities? What if psychedelics really helped me stop addictive behaviors? Must you be so suspicious of me? Yet we are. Suffering is the common denominator. To be human is to recognize that the common thread that connects us all is struggle and suffering. Whether rich or poor, whatever your race or ethnicity we all share the same river of suffering. Our humanness anchors this reality.
To be human is to be willing to change. For certain, when Bob Dylan penned “the times they are a changin”, he is right. Your life is in a current of change right now. What you have done for years is either over or soon will be. Are you resisting the change that is happening inside? Are you willing to give up life experiences, systems and events that are now dead? It’s time to move on! There are ways of thinking that are now dead. Can you let go? Can you embrace the new and be willing to free fall with uncertainty? It is shedding the old that will open you to transformation. Rather than wallow in the way things used to be when your life was given special privilege and dispensation of authority and advantage, are you willing to start all over in ways that will yield much needed personal growth? Placating others of those we love to escape conflict with while avoiding our own truth and transformation will cause us to lose access to what is eternal in us. If being human means anything it is a willingness and commitment to change. It won’t be comfortable. When the predominant theme of desire you seek is to be comfortable, check your pulse you might be closer to death than you think!
To be authentically human is a source of empowerment. There is great energy in being authentically human. It is sustaining. To be real and human you must acknowledge with strong voice your truths and beliefs. There is music inside of you. Only by externalizing what is living within do you soften the pain that exists in life. It is empowering to be human. When you express what you feel with honesty you create the human warmth to heal, when you don’t you spin coldly in the dark. Your spirit is illuminated when you express yourself authentically. So be sad when you are sad. Be scared when you are scared. Declaring your truth creates light, insight and human warmth for healing.
To be authentically human is to influence change and growth in others. The energy of being real and human has more power than outright persuasion, debate, or coercion. Being who we are always releases an extraordinary power that, without intent or design, affects the people who come in contact with such realness. Think of the people who have influenced you by the way they live and who they are. The impact of people like Martin Luther King, John Lewis, Stacy Abrams, Stephen Hawking, Steve Jobs, Albert Einstein and thousands of other influentials come from each being authentically human and true to themselves in what they believe. When you are authentic you are vital and inspire others to be authentically human. It has been said that the Polynesians believe that there is an extraordinary power or force that resides within a person that becomes a sort of spiritual electricity that charges anyone who touches it. When you are authentically human, you help others grow because of who you are. You become what Carl Jung described as “an unconscious influence of one being on another”. Being human is the greatest space to transform yourself and create a healing space in the world around you.
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