Waiting to Exhale: Freedom and Self-Discovery


The privilege of a lifetime is being who you are.”  Joseph Campbell

There is a certain kind of gift to being committed to practicing a true and authentic self. Too often we metaphorically, hold our breaths, remaining uptight and compliant with the expectations and wants of others. We study what it means to be a certain type of person, then we copy that behavior and mood, imagining this will make us happy and discover inner peace. Nothing can be further from the truth.

I see this on retreats. A person takes the time and money and invests in a retreat at a beau cholic setting in the woods, or along the shore. They take on the mood and behaviors of others in the retreat. They complete their time at the retreat, then return home, again full of discontent and fears. I must admit, this has been my experience, whether it be on retreat, or in short-lived, tumultuous relationships in my life. Looking back, whenever I tried to be someone else, other than my true self, I was left short of attaining a sense of satisfaction and inner peace.

Who are you? The most basic question, but rarely goes understood or answered. Alasdair MacIntyre, a moral philosopher from Notre Dame, speaks about the concept of telos, an ancient word that means the ultimate goal  or horizon in someone’s life, or even the overarching goal of a society. I’ve always tried to live in a manner that keeps my horizon in sight, while I’m living in the here-and-now. This personal telos is one way a person can live in an authentic, a truly you way. We need to attract the right people in our lives who accept us as we are, not as they think we should be. Many ancient and contemporary wise people become very attractive to many through their authenticity and mutuality of love and concern.

The more we cultivate acceptance of ourselves in the moment, we experience great freedom! The space you gain when you abandon focus on the minutiae of things and realize they will take care of themselves. It sort of like putting the Serenity Prayer in practice.

Go ahead and exhale! Stop waiting for the approval of others by being someone you are not.

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