Twenty-five years ago, in the foreword to my book To Wrestle With Demons, I wrote, “We are more alike than different in our needs and fear and much more alone than we need to be.”
Back then, I was a newly-minted psychiatrist. But I had enough early experience and enough raw sense about people to intuit that human beings could suffer far less and could find all manner of synergies with one another were they able to stop hiding the rough stuff they had lived through or might be living through in the present moment.
Posturing was keeping us apart. Pretending was keeping us from being the really wonderful things we could be.
Now, two-and-a-half decades later, having counseled thousands of patients around the world and been a patient myself, I am more convinced than ever that the key to self-love, self-actualization, respect for others and interpersonal power is a miraculous force called human empathy.
It is when we reveal the core truths about ourselves—many of them etched into our life stories during painful times—that we become dedicated custodians of the core truths of others, join the network of soulfulness on this planet and attract a wealth of gifts into our lives.
We become magnetic.
How can a person find fulfillment and express his or her power, after all, if that person is pretending to be someone else? How can a person who shields himself or herself from the real struggles of other human beings really connect with them?
We humans need to embrace the truth about ourselves and others now more than ever. We are encouraged to turn our life stories into Facebook profiles, a process that all too often turns us into chronic fibbers. The distressed jeans we wear are faked for us in factories that emblazon them with fancy labels we hide behind. We are encouraged to Tweet, rather than to speak. We are encouraged to take medicines to camouflage our pain, instead of confronting and overcoming our pain. The Reality TV we watch isn’t real at all.
All our social networking hasn’t really connected us. Our myriad drugs have too often elevated us above our troubles, rather than empowering us to examine them and triumph over them.
Real power comes from reality. Reality is about the human condition. And the human condition is defined by adversity and coming to terms with it. Those gritty chapters of our life stories are the ones that we need to share with each another.
Dr. Keith Ablow
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