Scott Brown Living An Authentic Life – A Contradiction? Analyze That

by Dr. Karen Ruskin on June 9, 2014

Scott Brown – Is he simply trying to live life as an authentic self and within that therein is the contradiction for the public? Some question his sincerity, his authenticity. Why? Well, to start with he is a “politician” after all. Thus, we as a public are skeptical right from the start. In today’s blog I shall take it a step further and focus on why Scott’s personal disclosures that occur within the varied contexts of his political gatherings is a significant piece of the puzzle affecting some to adore him and others to raise their eyebrow questioning his sincerity. As a Psychotherapist for 20+ years, I will provide you with the lens of which how I view what seems to some as a contradiction, and rather share how the popping in and out of sharing one’s personal life’s challenges and jumping back into one’s business self makes sense. I will explain how the confronting of one’s self, one’s truths and sharing those truths play an important role in the drive and journey of self. I am speaking from the lens of a Psychotherapist who has met many men and women through the years who have had hard pasts, pasts of abuse, of hurt. Thus the lens of which I see Scott’s articulations are just that. I am not stating a political message, rather, this article is through the eyes and mind of a Human Behavior Expert.

Scott Brown’s Authenticity Is In Question, Why?

It appears for some that Scott’s movie star good looks and seemingly picturesque nuclear family, his reports of hard work to get to where he is, and his traumatic past does not blend. This combination platter some find confusing, they don’t understand it and thus wonder about his sincerity. It is as though he himself is a contradiction, an anomaly. Allow me to explain, the confusion may reside in that he is and he isn’t. He is not a contradiction in that Scott is not the first, nor the last person whose life narrative is a journey of pain, challenge, fight, hard work, and passion who when viewed by others is successful. He appears to be a contradiction in that he is a man sharing his story with the public, and we humans do still have a certain set of expectations that men are supposed to “suck it up”, so to speak and that infers not talking about “it”. Whatever one’s “it” might be. In addition, Scott is a man who is in the public eye not due to the performing arts, where somehow this honesty and journey of still growing is accepted. Rather, he is a man in the land of politics. Thus many question his agenda for sharing and continuing to share his behind the scenes emotional journey during a professional campaign. Many of us have skeletons in our closet, Scott has opened his closet and weaves his personal self with his professional self.

Authentic Self

Often in politics we know “the politician”, and sometimes the family man or the not too family of a family man, when we learn of cases of infidelity in politics. In Scott’s case, he shares with us the politician, the family man, the personal self, and who he was – the young boy and young man Scott, as well as the adult Scott. We are learning about the full Scott not just one or two of his identities. Through the lens of mental health analysis, it appears that Scott is actively living a life of authentic self. We all have several identities, and as an authentic self we are mindful of all of the sides of one’s self and embrace those many sides. Far too often, people are not their authentic selves and hide from themselves and/or others. There are the secrets we hide from ourselves, and then there are the secrets we hide from others. In my observational analysis, it appears as though Scott is choosing not to hide from us nor from himself – and that appears to be the unique piece that is confusing for many. It is that confusion that leads for some to distrust instead of considering how his behavior makes sense in context.

Those who have experienced trauma live with their past and present challenges as it relates to their trauma each day. As a Psychotherapist I am aware that the flashes of recall people have, and the journey of connection with those who have hurt them is a day by day journey. Scott shared just recently that “for the first time in my life” he stated during a gathering, “she actually said she loved me” (referring to his mother). In my therapeutic work with adult men, and women, it does not matter how successful they are professionally, how accomplished they are personally, how wonderful a family life they made for themselves, or for those who have not accomplished and/or drown their thoughts in drugs and/or alcohol – they have thoughts and feelings as it relates to their parents of which they are absolutely impacted by to this day.

For Scott to be honest with himself and others about what his mother said to him, I would imagine it plays a part in his journey of self-actualization and living a life of authentic self. I have found in my work as a mental health and wellness professional that those who live a life of authenticity are passionate beings and can accomplish much, and typically do. In contrast to those that bury or try to bury their life obstacles/traumas.

Why would someone share their abusive past?

  • Sharing one’s past abuse and challenges touches the lives of those who too have been hurt and/or are currently hurting. It helps others to feel, not so alone.
  • Educational/informative for those of whom have never experienced abuse. To touch the lives of others in that way, opening their eyes to certain realities they may not have known is exhilarating for the sharer and helpful for the listener.
  • It helps the person who is the sharer to continue to self-accept, self-actualize, forgive, move forward, and focus on the passions and desires of the now. Sharing helps aide in recovery of thy self, confronting of thyself, and thus living an authentic life.

Surprising that Scott is openly talking about being on a journey of sorts?

Although it may seems surprising to some that a politician seems to be openly talking about being on a journey of sorts, still regularly talking about his abusive past, I will share that it makes all the sense in the world from a psychotherapeutic lens. It is therapeutically wise for one’s self while on one’s life journey to not keep these truths to one’s self. It is one’s truth with one’s self and with others that allows full confronting of the reality of what was, to help one’s self move in a mindful way towards the accepted reality of what was and is. In order to have the strength and courage to be all that one can be.

  • “If you shut up truth and bury it under the ground, it will but grow, and gather to itself such explosive power that the day it bursts through it will blow up everything in its way.”   -Emile Zola  (Great quote, so true. Just as the confronting of truth can be just as powerful, in a positive way).
  • “Why does man not see things? He is himself standing in the way: he conceals things.”   -Friedrich Nietzsche  (Superb quote, indeed. Just as one who does not stand in one’s way of self and rather does not conceal can potentially see so much and thus accomplish if one chooses to go from seeing to doing).

I have found in my work with men and women, it is the narrative of which we share our life story of the past and the present – that is the difference that makes the difference in terms of our self-worth, our mental health and wellness, our relational health, and our professional accomplishments or lack thereof. It is not only the articulations in and of themselves, it is what, how, when, and whom to we share our story with that helps heal the wounds of the past as we continue on our journey of who we are, who we can be, and what we accomplish. Imagine the potential impact on self, when during a gathering of many middle aged women, Scott shared that in the past year his relationship with his mother which has been strained for years has started to improve. For who we are is not only in our relationship with our own self, our recall regarding those in our past in the past, those from our past in the now, and those in our now, who we are is also in our relationship in how we see others seeing and experiencing us as well as how we experience ourselves during that interaction.

A technique I use for some clients, where appropriate, who are adults having experienced childhood abuse is the ‘mirror technique’. The technique involves that I have the client verbalize their past abuse experiences to me, not looking at the mirror. Then, I have the client share the reality of who they are now, stating positive affirmations, not looking at the mirror. Then, I have the client look in the mirror at himself while I watch them looking at the mirror.  The person is to then smile at the mirror and state something positive about themselves while I watch. It is always a powerful moment when they are ready and able to do that action in front of another (their therapist), for they are seeing themselves for who they are while confronting the pain of what was, while another sees them through their past and present. It may not seem like a big deal to someone who was not abused or did not feel discarded in one’s youth, but to a person who has, it is powerful. And for some clients depending on the level of past trauma, it can take some time before they are even able to look in the mirror and smile and say something positive as a technique on their own as an assignment to do outside of the office session, let alone do it in front of the therapist. It appears as though Scott has found through his professional self a way in which to heal his personal self as his personal self continues to gas up the vehicle of his professional self just as his professional self is gassing up his personal ride.

The American Dream

Is not the ‘American Dream’ to be all that one can be? The freedom and opportunity to create your own opportunities, to accomplish and build one’s life at each stage and phase of life? The excitement for and desire to keep on striving for more for what you can do to take ownership of taking action in your life, your personal self, professional self, your family, your town, your community? How far can one go? Helping one’s State? One’s Country? That is . . . the American Dream after all, is it not?

“Ask not what your country can do for you, ask what you can do for your country.” -John F. Kennedy

It appears to me that Scott’s drive to accomplish more than what his past may have positioned him to be is symbolic for and representative of what one can be if we choose to achieve. If we decide as a person: I am capable, I can do, even if my environment is less than therapeutic during my formative years – we can be more than who we were yesterday. I often share that when we have passion, motivation, and determination, if we strive to be we can be. Scott’s sharing of his past and his present, his personal journey while on his journey, can be a powerful message for many whether you have been touched by similar tragedy or not. As we all have obstacles and challenges to overcome. It is a choice to overcome and not just survive in life but rather to thrive.

Life Course

When abused it has the power to change one’s life path towards darkness even if there was the potential for light. Whether you are wounded emotionally, physically, and/or sexually – it eats at you like a cancer growing and festering until the abusive experience (s) take over and define you. Unless, you can build your healthy self-muscle to be stronger than the muscle of the unhealthy experiences that happened to you.

Helping men and women to help themselves to find the courage and strength to believe in themselves and the motivation to achieve beyond today, to heal from what was to create a life of what can be, is what I have helped clients with and continue to do so. The mind and body are interconnected, and thus for many who have experienced such hurt by similar themes as to what Scott has shared with us the public, many are still hurting emotionally and far too often experience physical symptoms as well. As our emotional hurt can manifest itself into physical ailments when left unaddressed (e.g., back aches, stomach problems, headaches, eye twitches, sexual disorders…).

Public Awareness

We as a culture have become through the years much more open to the reality that our politicians are human beings. Rather than seeing our leaders as only being born with a silver spoon in their mouth and all had it easy, we as a public are more aware that challenges and pain struck some of them in more severe ways than others. How we as people, both the men and women in politics, and we the public in our understanding of those men and women – understand ourselves and others is a journey.  Is their response one of ‘flight or fight’? Some people among us are capable of great things, and they achieve those very things through consistent effort, energy, and passion. Others are capable but never rise to who they can be. Then there are some who are not as capable as others. Ultimately, how a person confronts and handles one’s life challenges says much about who they are. Some sink in the waters of life, others tread water, some get out of the water, others find a wall or object to hold onto, others swim gracefully, others pound the water, and others implement a combination of one or more of these notions depending on the moment/day. Are you a swimmer? Did you get out of the pool some time ago? Who are you? What do you expect and/or want from those in your life?

Even with our ever growing public awareness about the human mind and human behavior, it is normal for some to view Scott’s personal-professional self-merger to seem questionable. I am hopeful this article today opened up the thought to the possibility that it is within our self-actualization as we present ourselves in varied interactional contexts with others that plays an important role in one’s journey.

Human Behavior

I have not interviewed Scott on the matter in this blog, thus my thoughts are my own specifically based upon my expertise in understanding human behavior, as a human behavior and mental health/wellness expert. I did have the pleasure of meeting him during his book signing a while back, here’s the link to my blog entitled: Scott Brown Book Signing.

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