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Living An Authentic Life

by Thomas E. Legere, Ph.D.

Reviewed by Fredrica R. Halligan, Ph.D.

Dr. Tom Legere has written a very comprehensive, articulate book of interest to the pastoral counselor and the spiritually-oriented mental health practitioner or trainee. The ideas are equally accessible to the intelligent layperson who has interest in the interface of psychology and spirituality. Written from a Christian (predominantly Catholic) perspective, this work is also open to the wisdom of other spiritual traditions, both eastern and western. Legere writes from many years’ experience as therapist and teacher. He draws on Jungian and Transpersonal approaches to psychology.

Living An Authentic Life is a very genuine, personal statement of how to live with compassion and wisdom. Topics include many that we all struggle with in our attempts to live well: anger and forgiveness, sexuality and commitment, suicidal thoughts and grief over the death of a loved one, illness and equanimity, even transcendent bliss. These and many more of life’s challenges are addressed in a manner that is both psychologically sound and spiritually nourishing.

Legere has the rare ability to write therapeutically. For example, in his chapter “Forgiveness,” he writes:

It is one thing to be a beautiful person who is temporarily angry. It is quite another to be an angry person. Angry people will never inherit the kingdom of heaven. This is another way of saying that, when we are holding on to anger, when we have swallowed it and let it become a part of us, then we are in a state of dis-ease. In such a state, it is very difficult, if not impossible, to feel tuned into our spiritual essence…. Forgiveness of others is, then, crucial to our spiritual growth. But it is just as crucial—perhaps even more so—for us to learn how to forgive ourselves. This is not an easy thing to do for most of us, especially if we are talking about forgiving ourselves for weaknesses and shortcomings that just won’t go away. These parts of us are deeply embarrassing to us. We wish they weren’t there. We do our best to banish these parts into our unconscious. But it never works. The self-forgiveness is simply never complete until we surface all of these ghosts and goblins from within and learn to come to terms with them. (p. 157f)

A reflective reader will find Living An Authentic Life to be a powerful tool to increase self-awareness and integrate the many disparate elements in one’s own life journey. Highly recommended.