Authentic engagement is an alive, passionate, embodied, and profound way of being. It is complex. We are not just authentically engaged in a vacuum. We must be authentically engaged in relationship to someone or something. As I see it, in our human endeavors, there are four ways we authentically engage.

Self and Self-Discovery

The first way we authentically engage is in relationship to our self and self-discovery. This is the process of opening up as fully as we can to our inward experiencing in the context of the questions: Who am I now and who am I becoming? It is a matter of accessibility and depth.

Relationship to Others

The second way we authentically engage is in relationship to others. This is the process of connecting as intimately as we can with the other by letting ourselves be known, and comprehending the other as fully as we can. It is a matter of self-disclosure and empathy.

Relationship to the World

The third way we authentically engage is in relationship to the world. This is the process of impacting societal institutions as fully as we can in order to make the world sustainable and viable for the human race. It is a matter of rootedness and participation.

Spiritedness and the Mystery of Life

The fourth way we authentically engage is in relationship to spiritedness and the mystery of life. This is the process of being in the unknown as fully as we can, with an attitude of awe, wonder, and reverence. It is a matter of embracing and surrendering to life.

We all have ways in which we naturally engage authentically and ways in which it is more difficult. As you envision what you want for 2014, consider which of these four ways are strengths for you and which of these four ways you feel might need more attention.

Integrating these four ways of authentically engaging can be a challenge. I believe this integration will lead to a fuller, richer, and more balanced life. 

About the Author

Bob Edelstein, L.M.F.T., M.F.T.,

Bob Edelstein, L.M.F.T., M.F.T., is an existential humanistic psychotherapist based in Portland, Oregon.

You are reading

Authentic Engagement

Putting Our National Politics on the Therapy Couch

How curiosity and compassion can change our national discourse.

Love and Psychotherapy

A unique kind of love

The Pull of Death and the Embrace of Life

Life is exquisitely intertwined with death.