Values underpin the way we live. My sense of purpose and belonging come from knowing what I value most and how I can align this to my personal and professional relationships.
Being able to live and work authentically, collaboratively and with diversity is core to who I am. The image of a bridge helps me remember what I really believe in.
I used to think that the process of self-discovery was getting to know the 'real' me; that is, to be true to who I really am, the person I would have been if I hadn't learned to make compromises to those around me. Now I have the view that this sort of authenticity is individualistic and oppresses the parts of me that adapted to survive.
For me, there is no one authentic self. Authenticity is a process that draws on many different ways of being. It is about staying open and true to who I am in any given moment, which naturally changes as the people and context around me change.
Being fully authentic isn't an end point; it's being able to bridge between all the parts of who I am without getting stuck.
Two people have three basic stories: the stories of each individual's ongoing inner experience and the story of the shared experience between them. All three narratives are true, even though they may differ.
I believe that relationships, therapeutic and otherwise, are about honouring all three stories. This is best done through collaboration and dialogue with the other person. Such a shift from independence to interdependence lies in the recognition that self-worth and flourishing relationships are reciprocal.
It's like agreeing to meet someone halfway across a bridge.
For me, diversity often means challenging dominant narratives and working with difference. Whether the process is social, political, historical or psychological, it's about finding ways to empower minority voices so that they can dialogue with prevailing ones.
I believe that the things we dislike about ourselves come about for a good reason. Giving voice to the parts of ourselves we tend to ignore or oppress provides us with a chance to understand them better. Understanding our own internal differences enables greater choice - and choice brings the potential for personal change.
Like a bridge, diversity is a recognition that separateness and connection co-exist and there are opportunities for growth in both.