A Personal Reflection
As an educator, scholar, researcher, clinician and responsible citizen, I am best understood as someone who explores - and serves - how we, as human beings, are driven to make meaning from our lives and experiences, and it is in this capacity that we can find freedom.
Viktor Frankl, a man who survived the concentration camps in World War II, wrote: “Forces beyond your control can take away everything you possess except one thing, your freedom to choose how you will respond to the situation.”
He goes on to say that our response is the key to our growth and freedom – this deeply empowering perspective has guided my own approach to life as well as my clinical work with individuals and families, consultations with organizations and communities, and work as an academic and administrator.
While we may be able to choose how we react to stimuli, we all know that our behavioral and cognitive responses to life’s events are influenced by many factors including our biology, previous life experiences, and past and current relationships. And it is in this nexus – the connections that are co-created with one another – that the most challenge and opportunities for growth reside.
If we can choose our own responses, that also means we have the power to create our own narratives – the stories that we construct about our lives. And to complicate matters, these narratives invariably surface that our lives are inextricably linked with other lives.
Thích Nhất Hạnh, a Buddhist monk and peace activist, discusses the notion of “inter-being.” He says, “We cannot just be by ourselves alone.” To me, this means that I am who I am because you are who you are – that I am shaped by you, and you shape me as well. While acknowledging our “inter-being,” I can still have the capacity to choose my responses and construct my narrative in this shared space.
From this viewpoint, I have a responsibility to myself and others to engage with compassion, kindness, and honesty (not only with others but with myself as well). It is from this foundation that I approach my life and its work.
Being a part of and bearing witness to the process of individuals and groups constructing healthy narratives, developing meaning and purpose, finding ways to constructively relate, and discovering their own resiliency and healing is indeed a privilege.
Crystal Dea Moore
Dr. Moore is happy to provide subject matter expertise for media.