I awoke very early this morning thinking deeply about what it would mean to live empowered. Not just with purpose and conviction, though these are great virtues. Much bigger than the self, more for the family, community.
It occurred to me that there are many concealed parts of our social lives, be it at an individual, family or community level. Often, we are not fully open, and this can restrict our sense of who we are or whom we could be. These issues can limit our engagement with others, even to the point of causing rifts and shutting down dialog when certain topics are raised.
Would providing a healthy, non-judgemental and open environment to discuss these taboos seem more practical, especially if we want to grow our collective understanding of each other?
What does it mean to have ‘empowerment’? A definition; ‘The process of becoming stronger and more confident, especially in controlling one's life and claiming one's rights.’
This seems quite a reasonable position for everyone to have access to, yet I fear that in order for ourselves to avoid feeling uncomfortable, even challenged, the openness required for empowerment is subconsciously or deliberately restricted, especially in relation to others. Perhaps we also want to extricate our own confrontation with the issue, or extend some kind of protection upon the ‘other’ someone. Or perhaps, simply, we’re afraid of fully knowing ourselves. In an attempt to protect ourselves, we actually inhibit and disempower. Not in a cruel way, but from a position of fear and non-understanding.
Limiting self-beliefs often leads to misunderstandings, and prevents individuals from moving towards growth. Stripping back the veil of mystery, misinformation and exposing these taboos to sunlight, via self-reflection and conversations will accelerate individual growth and community enhancement. Committing to self-improvement has the potential to transform lives through the act of humanity.
The reason I was inspired to write this article is because I’ve recently been concerned when certain topics are not being discussed openly. In my family, we are comfortable discussing certain topics when in relation to others, but not in relation to us. I can feel the tension build whenever these topics are being negotiated around. Often it gets shutdown, and silence fills the space until a distractive interjection disturbs it. I suspect I’m not alone in this scenario, and I felt it was worthwhile in being open about it now.
This article will form a series of three, on the typically ‘uncomfortable’ topics of death and dying, cultural diversity, and disability. The purpose of this series will be to discuss and try to provide guidance on how greater understanding and transparency can often bring personal empowerment and resolution.
Briefly though, these topics, and specifically one - death and dying, are confronting. They are often fraught with elements of fear and misunderstanding. To fully engage with the given topic, we will need to approach with compassion, empathy, and an openness to dialogue and some discomfort. Without this, it will be almost impossible to come to an understanding.
In each upcoming article, I will provide resources and sharable information to help start discussions for yourself and / or your family, and actions in facilitating a positive resolve.
Look out for these upcoming articles on: Death and Dying, Cultural Diversity and Disability vs. Ability on the Reflex 2 Health blog.