Gross Body, Subtle Body, Causal Body & The 5 Koshas

What is the subtle body? What are the 5 koshas or layers of this metaphysical representation of our Soul? How can we transcend our subtle body? Read this!

One of the first realizations I had during my spiritual awakening is that there’s much more to life than what meets the eye. And to validate that notion, even after all these years, I’ve come across a fascinating and deeply metaphysical subject – the subtle body.

While exploring it, not much is visible to the naked eye. It’s like an iceberg!

Yet, as we go deeper and underneath each layer, we realize how complicated and beautiful we are.

Studying the subtle body is a gateway into studying the soul and attaining a deeper self-awareness.

Let’s explore the various layers, called Koshas, and their containers, namely – the gross body, the subtle body, and the causal body. We will then talk about how to transcend each of these layers and work our way towards enlightenment.

What are the 3 different bodies?

Our soul comprises of five distinct layers, and each layer resides in a type of ‘body’, or a container. We know these as:

  • Gross Body (visible container);
  • Subtle Body (experiential container – not to be seen but meant to be felt);
  • Causal Body (existential container – the cause for our effects).
Each body stores different layers, called Koshas. These are stacked one inside another, like a matryoshka doll!
Matryoshka, Wrist, Russia, Toy, Crafts

While the Gross Body and Causal Body have one layer each, the Subtle Body which resides in between these two Bodies has the most layers (three).

We’ll talk about each body and its koshas in detail now. Let’s start from the top, from the Gross Body.

Understanding the 5 Koshas

Let’s take care of a nuance real quick – the nomenclature. When you read their names at first, don’t be shaken by their complexity! Look closely and you’ll notice that each name has a repetitive part –maya kosha.

Koshas, or sheaths/layers, represent different qualities that keep getting subtler, and go deeper and deeper, until we access our soul.

Maya means illusion. Each layer is labelled an illusion, as a simple reminder that they are meant to be transcended.

You’ll also notice some other sanskrit words. This is largely because all this knowledge was passed on by Ancient sages from India. While the other stuff can be translated, the sanskrit meaning is the right way to understand the depth of their meaning (as is true for all words when written in their original text).

That said, let’s move on to the first layer.

#1 – Annamaya Kosha, The Food Body

Anna in Sanskrit means grain or food.

It represents the most solid aspect – the physical body. The outer layer is called the Gross Body, which we can see, touch. And where all our other senses reside.

sense of smell, annamaya kosha, flowers, subtle body, physical body

The other attributes of the annamaya kosha include digestion, organs, bones and other physicality. So the Gross Body relates to our ability to interact with our external environment, and to participate in day-to-day life by consuming, reproducing, excreting, etc.

It’s also interesting to know that the 3 doshas (pitta, vata and kapha) of your body are connected to the outermost layer. Since I haven’t talked about the Doshas yet, here’s a quick resource from Yoga Journal that explains the basics.

#2 – Pranamaya Kosha, The Life Force Body

This is where the Subtle Body begins. Its first layer, the pranamaya kosha comprises of the subtler aspects like:

  • Chakras,
  • Bandhas,
  • Nadis,
  • Aura,
  • Prana Vayus, etc.
woman blowing dandelions

This is typically the time skeptics start questioning what’s up, because not much remains visible. And yet there’s so much wonder around ideas like Chakra Balancing, Nadi Shuddhi and Pranayama.

As explained in the ancient eastern scriptures, prana, chi, or life force energy flows through our body through this second sheath. Transcending it means that are no longer locked in the energy centers or points – that we’re able to experience expansiveness and oneness.

#3 – Manomaya Kosha, The Lower Mind

Yes, there are two minds – lower and higher. And the manomaya kosha marks the conscious mind. Which Michael Singer lovingly calls the ‘Monkey Mind’.

In this layer, we experience the thoughts of our conscious mind during meditatoin. And at the time, it drives us crazy! That’s only because we’re just learning to tap into that layer, and it’ll need a little self-control to work our way around it.

The manomaya kosha also reflect the three gunas or qualities, namely Rajas, Tamas and Satva. I’ll talk about this too in depth someday, but here’s another quick resource you can read till then to learn more about the three gunas.

#4 – Vijnanamaya Kosha, The Upper Mind

We then move to the fourth layer, and the third in our subtle body. The vijnanamaya kosha is the sheath of wisdom and inner knowledge.

Aka, the subconscious mind as it pulls in profound truths, realizations and spiritual resources from the depths of the Universe!

light, aura, subtle body, spiritual awakening
This is the point where once we’ve reached, we can solve any problem. It’s the answer to the new agey saying, “all the answers are within you”.

Yup, here. Those answers are within this layer. But why would you want to transcend it? Good question. Because our subconscious mind also holds our karmic impressions.

This is also where your past lives are stored, your old wounds and traumas. We need to transcend all of that. How? We’ll get to that in the next section.

#5 – Anandmaya Kosha, The Soul

It makes sense that we are not our thoughts, emotions or any of the other layers above. But are we not our soul? You might even ask if the soul is an illusion. Afterall, the translation of this layer, bliss-illusion sheath seems to say so. Your introspection isn’t futile!

buddha, enlightenment, self actualization
Going deeper into our metaphysical truth, yes, in a sense the concept of soul is illusionary too. Because the soul is not separate from the Universe. It’s only in our physical form that we feel separation and duality.

So once we have reached awareness of this layer, we have attained enlightenment. What next then? Let’s talk about it in the following section.

How to Transcend Each Kosha

Having laid out that foundation, here’s a list of things you can do to work on lightening your association with each layer of the subtle body.

Freeing The Annamaya Kosha

The suggestions involved in liberating oneself from the ties of the Annamaya Kosha are categorized as:

  • Strengthening the physical body (being physically healthy);
  • Nurturing and serving the Gross Body like a temple;
  • Gaining self-control over the physical body.

Let’s dig into just some of the ways we can achieve this.

#1 – Satvik eating

In Eastern culture, monks and sages emphasize on the practice of eating right in order to gain self-control over the tongue. And thus liberate that illusory ‘annamaya‘ that ties us to the physical aspect of our self through taste.

Satvik or morally-sound eating comprises of a number of rules.

vegetables, satvik eating, health conscious, physical body healing, pranamaya kosha diet, heal subtle body through food

To help get you started with the practice of clean eating, take a look at these pointers:

  • Eating foods that are closer to nature and can thus energize your body better versus the spike-inducing sugary foods or beverages;
  • NOT mixing your food and beverage in the same meal (ideally drink water 30 minutes before or after your meal);
  • Practicing Intermittent Fasting, that is limiting the duration of the day you spend eating;
  • Controlling the portion sizes and eating mindfully;
  • Limiting the number of times you eat per day to 2 or atmost 3 meals (which eliminates snacking for sure);
  • Eating freshly cooked food (which means no preservatives or packed meals);
  • Following a vegetarian or vegan diet.

#2 – Hatha yoga

Hatha yoga comprises of asanas, that bring balance and strength to our physical body.

hatha yoga, physical fitness, mom daughter doing yoga, cute yoga photos, hatha yog for pranamaya kosha

If you’re comfortable learning online, from my own personal usage, I can recommend the resources from the website called Yoga International.

And if you use this link to sign up, you’ll get a free 30-days trial along with a complimentary e-course about Yoga Therapy. It’s all on me for the first month, so go ahead and maximize your Hatha Yoga (as well as a bunch of other yogic practices). ๐Ÿ™‚

#3 – Balancing your doshas

You may have gotten a glimpse if you checked out the resource from Yoga Journal above. But if not, here’s what you should know a bit about the doshas.


There are three doshas which reflect our body’s general tendency, so, you could either be a –

  • Pita Dosha, if you are intense, feisty, get heated up when agitated, and have a generally good sense of digestion.
  • Kapha Dosha, if you are laid back, have a larger build and tend to experience great sadness when you’re not your best self.
  • Vata Dosha, if you’re a multitasker, have a medium build, agile in movement and light.
You could also be a combination of two or all, so it’s important to identify your type, and eat the right foods for your body type.

There are a bunch of online quizzes that you can take. I haven’t found one that works accurately for everyone, so I can’t really recommend anything yet.

But try to see the analysis and see what resonates most with you. And then, work on the underlying emotions that originate from a lack of balance of your doshas, as mentioned above.

Freeing The Pranamaya Kosha

Prana, or Chi energy is called the vital life force. When we breath, prana rides on top of the air. So this layer, the Pranamaya Kosha associates with our vitality and general wellness.

The various ways in which you could make the effect of your pranamaya kosha lighter, is by working with the prana energy through a number of self-healing practices. Here are just three tips to get you started.

#1 – Pranayama

Working with your breath is not just something the eastern culture promotes, but something modern therapists emphasize too.

Pranayama, literally meaning control over one’s inhale and exhale, is a true art! If you’ve ever attended a guided meditation, you’ll know how difficult it is to just ‘observe your breath’.

breathwork, pranayam, meditation, healing the subtle body with pranayam techniques

But, with a little bit of conscious effort, we can work to achieve the following basic pointers and improve the quality of our breathing:

  • In day-to-day life, always inhale and exhale at a 1:1 ratio. Only rarely will certain practices advise you to maintain a different ratio.
  • Always breathe in and out through your nostrils, unless stated otherwise in some practice. The mouth is infamous for taking in too much air too fast, and not helping the diaphragm expand in enough time.
  • Breathe deeper and slower. When that happens, you can immediately dissipate anxiety. Shallow and rapid breathing is a trigger for anxiety.

Doing all this, we can immediately feel how much more vitalized we are. Why? Because the prana, which rides on the air we breath, is also going deeper and deeper into our being.

#2 – Mudras

Mudras, another Sanskrit word, literally translates to hand gestures. And how do they work?

Through different finger and hand placements, we can channel the energy to flow in our desired ways. These are typically paired with meditation, and the most common one which you probably already know, is the one in the image below!

mudras, asanas, healing the subtle body with mudra work

At some point, as I venture deeper into mudras myself, I will write about it. But till then, I’ll point you to Deepak Chopra’s blog for more insight on some common ones you can use, and their purpose.

#3 – Chakras

This is one of the tools in this blog post that your girl offers in-house ๐Ÿ™‚

I love talking about the chakra system, and have an exciting workshop I conduct online for anyone that’s interested. If you want to learn chakra balancing in a fun and practical way, feel free to reach out!

chakra healing, colors, nature, organic,

Freeing The Manomaya Kosha

Work with your thoughts in the lower mind to consciously release blocks from the manomaya kosha. Here are some recommendations to get you started.

#1 – Journaling

So simple? Really? Ah, not quite, my dear friend. Although journaling is a brilliant way to introspect your thoughts, its important to ask yourselves the right questions, and to reflect deeper with each query.

journaling, healing the subconscious mind with writing prompts, self-healing tools,

I use higher self journalling and inner child dialogue with my clients and the results blow our minds away, every single time! Journaling is such a powerful tool into the subconscious.

If only you know where to begin.

Don’t worry, I’m not leaving your side here! Here are 7 journaling ideas for self-healing to get you started.

Pssst…. You can also sign up for my monthly newsletter and download 30 journaling prompts for the inner child, shadow self and practicing gratitude.

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#2 – Hypnotherapy

There’s so much stigma around hypnotherapy. And yet, we don’t realize that all hypnosis is self-hypnosis. Nobody can take over your mind, or body. You cannot be imprisoned or ‘made to do’ something.

hypnotherapy myths, self healing, jail, locked,

Which means that whenever we follow someone’s suggestion, we are volunteering to take an action that they told us to do. If we reject their suggestion, we discard the ‘hypnosis’.

Hypnotherapy is NOT scary. As a matter of fact the first and free form of hypnotherapy that you can take, is listen to a guided meditation on Youtube!

And how is hypnotherapy useful? Because while meditation does involve sitting down with our thoughts, sometimes its nicer to redirect those thoughts to recover specific wounds and heal them. There are two great modalities of hypnotherapy to explore:

But don’t get stuck there! Remember, we’re only halfway through our healing. After this, we have two more sheaths to transcend. And with them, we will be transcending the illusion of past, present and future.

#3 – Neuro Linguistic Programming (NLP)

Neurolinguistic Programming used to be an optional subject in college that I never bothered to take. So it amuses me how it followed me into my journey after all these years!

The basic concept of NLP, is to observe your limiting thoughts and recreate better, more meaningful neurolinguistic responses, using fun and creative tools. It is known to takeaway deep-seeded beliefs in minutes!

NLP, neurolinguistic programming, self healing tools, nlp for healing the subtle body

I use NLP in my own day-to-day life, as well as a part of my coaching. So I’d be happy to help you integrate it into your own life! Feel free to get in touch.

Freeing The Vijnanamaya Kosha, The Upper Mind

#1 – Meditate on the Heart Center

As the Upanishads call it, the Purusha element (eternal), which resides in your heart-center, the size of a thumb.

In order to move from this first suggestion, to step #2, tapping into inner wisdom, it’s essential to be acquainted with your inner wisdom.

And the best way, as Osho says, it to be headless.

In other words, now that we’ve moved deeper and away from our manomaya kosha, we need to feel from our heart. Not think from the head, when meeting the inner purusha.

The Heartfulness Meditation is a beautiful way to do that. I’ve been a practitioner on and off over the last year, and have experienced a shift within, everytime I participate in the practice.

#2- Tap Into Your Own Wisdom

Okay, so now that you understand the essence of processing all the layers above, let’s focus on the upper mind. And how to tap into its wisdom.

At first when we sit down to meditate, it can seem like you’re unsuccessful simply because the noise from the conscious mind has become so apparent. It’s not that your mind has a lot of thoughts all of a sudden. You’ve just become aware, that your mind has a lot of thoughts!

woman meditating in bedroom

But, with persistence and perseverance, you might have sudden AHA moments every now and then. Like that’s why your friend was mad at you, or that’s why your stubborn refuses to listen to you.

Once you start having those AHA moments, you are becoming aware of the vijnanamaya kosha.

And being able to sit down in the ocean of thoughts, and guiding ourselves towards a single-pointed level of concentration (called dhyana) doesn’t have to be rocket-science!

But if you are struggling and need just a little bit of direction, you can explore my other recommended workshop, called Designing Your Own Meditation Practice.

#3 – Walk your truth

Okay, so now you’ve been sitting down and meditating quite a bit. You even receive these insights ever so often. What now?

The more you practice inner awareness and FOLLOW those profound insights that come to you out of nowhere, the stronger they’ll become. Loosening the strength of the vijnanamaya kosha means learning how to unmask ourselves and let go of all limitations of the subtle body that are ‘defining’.

graceful handicraft masks for carnival hanging on wall

There’s an exciting saying that goes around the spiritual community.

The more authentic you are with your words and actions, the more you can make things come true in the real world. No wonder people were scared from getting cursed by sages back in the day. It might just happen, they knew!

At first, walking our truth can be counterintuitive because it goes against our conditioning. It may ask us to stop walking with the herd, to think out of the box, to even leave a job.

And yet, meditation is not enough for us to become who we are. We need to follow our own inner wisdom and bring that radiant Self out. Till then, we’re just going to remain stuck in the same dilemma.

Anandmaya Kosha, The Soul

If we’ve reached this far, the only thing need be is to shed the body.

As the story goes, during Buddha’s time on Earth spreading the word of the Ultimate Way, many monks that attained enlightenment began committing suicide. They considered life so futile once they understood that they weren’t this body, that they couldn’t bare to be with it a moment longer.

This brought a lot of grief to Buddha, because his message hadn’t been rightly absorbed. He was the embodiment of oneness within the body, and his objective was to show to the world that it was possible for them too.

buddha, enlightenment, nirvana, boddhisatva, free from the subtle body
For the remainder of our time here, we must step into our higher calling and help spread the message of spiritual truth to mankind.

And we don’t have to wait till enlightenment to begin. We can start now, start with the experiences and knowledge we have. Making such a choice can make us a true Boddhisatva, he who puts his nirvana at hold for the greater good.

Concluding Thoughts

Learning about the subtle body can be a roadmap to self-healing. Take your time to gain self-control over all layers. But it take it one step at a time. And eventually, as these layers become lighter, you will notice yourself automatically experiencing detachment.

I hope you can see now that working on the subtle body is our way towards enlightenment. So what are you waiting for? Enlightenment, here we come! ๐Ÿ™‚

7 Signs of Divine Guidance : How to Know The Universe is Talking to You

Did you notice 11:11 on the clock or see a rare butterfly? These, amongst many other signs of divine guidance are always trying to catch your attention!

Whether you already know that you’re divinely guided and just looking for more insight on the various ways, or you’re not sure about it yet, there are a lot of signs of divine guidance all around you. To begin with, it’s not a coincidence that you’re here, reading this post. It’s a wink from the universe too! Did you notice?

Truthfully, there are many, MANY profound moments in our day to day life, that go unnoticed. But even in the toughest adversities, the universe always has your back! And you will rarely ever be caught off-guard again by life’s events, if you start looking close enough.

But where should you start looking? And for what?! I’m here to help you with just that. ๐Ÿ™‚

Of the countless ways in which the Cosmos conspires to help your soul evolve, here are just a handful of the signs of divine guidance you should be looking out for.

#1 – You ‘get lucky’.

The word ‘luck’ is strange, because it is neither empowering nor does it acknowledge the possibility of something greater at play. It’s for the cynic who thinks good things happen ‘by chance’.

person holding gold-colored ching coins

Even if you’re not a believer in karma, the 101 rule of spirituality is, nothing is a coincidence.

Here are just two of the countless times I got ‘lucky’. Reading these, maybe you’re inspired to think of the times the Universe overwhelmed you with its blessings.

Once, I was running late for work and would have missed a very important meeting with a tough client. I kept holding my breath and keeping my fingers crossed as I drove, not knowing what to expect.

That day, my entire route had green lights, and I made it to work in enough time to even grab my morning coffee! ๐Ÿ™‚

Another time, I had a connecting flight that needed me to stay at the airport overnight. I was out of points on my card, and would have had to pay a fortune for the airport lounge access, or sit outside.

As a gesture of self-love, I decided to pay for the lounge and get some rest. And by divine intervention, the card machine stopped working and I was given free entry! ๐Ÿ™‚

It’s one thing to believe in visualization and work to manifest your desires through the law of attraction. But when you get something serendipitously, what then?

The Universe knows our needs even before we do. So just remain observant and when small things work out your way and you acknowledge them, you’ll notice the bigger signs of divine guidance amplify too!

#2 – You see Angel Numbers.

My first wake-up call came with 11:11 on the clock. Ever since, there’s been no looking back! But in retrospect, I realise that when anyone begins to see a crazy amount of repeating numbers, two things happen:

One, they begin to feel like they’re losing their mind.

And two, the logical mind is challenged to the possibility that this just isn’t a coincidence. I mean, how likely is it that you see 11:11 both times in a day AND a number plate of the same value?

11:11, angel numbers, signs of divine guidance

There are countless numeric synchronicities of such nature that begin occurring, especially when your life is leading you towards a deep inner transformation. It’s like the angels are preparing you for what’s in store!

However, amongst all the signs of divine guidance, angel numbers can be the most confusing to understand. So, if you need this, I’ve dedicated a step-by-step post to find the meaning of angel numbers in your life.

#3 – You notice a lot of synchronicities.

This was my favorite term when I first began my journey. Synchronicities. And what are they?

A synchronicity happens when you think of something in your mind that aligns with your path, and then something within your environment happens to echo that thought. And vice versa.

It’s like an immediate form of validation. Like an AHA moment. And one of the uncanniest signs of divine guidance.

I’ve even talked about so many instances in my own life, in this post, where I wasn’t sure if I was thinking from my intuition, or out of fear, and every time the Universe showed up for me with interesting synchronicities to help me know I’m on track.

aha moment, signs of divine guidance

Some more examples include:

  • thinking about something in your head, and then immediately hearing a stranger pass by, saying those words outloud;
  • hearing the same advice from everyone around you about something key in your life;
  • noticing a book or author wherever you go, until you finally read it and find some deep-seeded wisdom within;
  • hearing a song on the radio that tells you what to do.

If you stay observant enough, it can be quite easy to navigate the toughest situations seamlessly. I call this moving from Point A to Point B with divine intervention. ๐Ÿ™‚

#4 – You repeatedly see specific (and sometimes unusual) animals.

Not just numbers, you may notice a keen interest arising in animals. And you may end up seeing a lot of them, in peculiar patterns. What do I mean?

Before I met my husband, I kept seeing pairs of birds. Whenever I saw a pair, they would fly together in the same direction. I was curious why this nuance kept getting my attention, and upon introspection I found the term animal totems appear.

The spiritual significance was that these birds were indicating a union involving flying away from home. It was only after several years that I connected the dots, flying to Canada to be with my husband. ๐Ÿ™‚

pair of birds, signs of divine guidance, pigeons, union, harmony, peace, black and white, spiritual animals

Another time, I kept seeing ants in my bathroom. This was at a point when I had just resigned from my corporate job to become a full-time spiritual writer, and I was driving myself crazy with my work.

Ants are a reminder for patience, and seeing them in the bathroom made me think this had something to do with the root chakra. It was then that 2 plus 2 added up for me, “slow down V, things within the realm of work are unfolding just as fast or slow as they should.”

Just like that, there are countless ways in which spirit animals guide us. I wanted to go deeper into their significance, and wrote a book about it! Do check it out. ๐Ÿ™‚

#5 – You experience intuitive hits and deja vu moments.

It’s one thing to see repeating numbers or strangely uncanny events outside of you, but what if you start behaving in psychic ways yourself?

There have been occasions where I’ve predicted a phone call as it rang, getting an intuitive insight about the context even before picking up.

woman standing near body of water

Ofcourse, it’s natural to wonder whether you’re speaking from intuition, or if the ego is interfering in your opportunity to experience life. For that, I’ve shared a trick before, but I would also add that to strengthen your intuition, the best thing you can do is acknowledge its existence.

So many people get freaked out when they experience this psychic sense arising and they shut it down. But as my favorite spiritual teacher Caroline Myss puts it, we really have ten senses – five from the body and five from the soul. We need to learn to use all of them!

#6 – You feel like someone or something is taking care of you.

I want to share another story with you. Once, when I was traveling alone, I headed towards the back of the metro station to use the stairs to go up. This was one of those rare occasions where I wanted to be “fit”. ๐Ÿ™‚

The moment I reached the staircase, I was greeted by DOZENS of monkeys. Taken aback, I froze in my steps, unable to think what I should be doing now.

three monkeys standing near wall, animal totems

The very next moment, some of the monkeys started descending the stairs. And in no time, one of them pounced at my leg, making eye contact with me as he pierced his nails through me jeans.

In a moment of fear, I didn’t know what to do except surrender. I folded my hands and closed my eyes. Dear God, please save me.

And as I opened my eyes, I noticed the monkey had backed away. They all simply stood there, watching me.

I took this moment to turn around and rush away. The memory stays vividly with me till date and I always think to myself, really someone was taking care of me and watching over me that day. Or there would have been no way out of this situation.

Such is the way of this Divine Cosmos. Nothing happening to you is by chance, nor can a mishap be stopped if its meant to happen because of your karmic debts. But whenever possible, the Universe will sweep in and save you with its grace.

Trust in that grace, call it forth. It will not disappoint you.

#7 – You often remember your dreams vividly when you wake up.

Some people are deep sleepers and they never seem to remember what they saw in their dreams. Its not that they don’t have dreams. They do. Infact everyone does.

Only a small percentage of people remember these dreams after they wake up. And a fraction of them think they mean anything at all.

But every now and then, you’ll come across a strange dream. It’ll either come true and feel prophetic, or feel so real that you’ll be taken aback for a few minutes.

dreaming, falling in sleep, asleep, imagination,

Did you know, that some of the finest artists received their best work through their dreams? I mean, we spend a third of our life sleeping, of course dreams serve some purpose, eh!

I have worked with dozens of people to help them interpret their dreams and can tell you firsthand that there’s a lot more going back there in the subconscious, than you can imagine!

Dreams can be the gateway to your subconscious mind. While on the surface, this means working with your fears and desires, going deeper, you can tap into wisdom and divine guidance to steer the direction of your waking life in a different direction.

If you haven’t been putting the dots together yet, I want you to consider keeping a diary next to your bed before you sleep, and ensuring you write down as little or as much as you can, the moment you wake up. As you start noting them down, try interpreting what they mean.

Concluding Thoughts

I know that at times, you might feel like it’s your ego-mind, making things up. But really, the signs are there! If you’re having trouble identifying the difference in ego talk and intuitive hits, read this.

There are countless ways, really, in which the Universe is reaching out to you, helping you, and correcting the course of your life. All you have to do at your end, is pause and watch it happen for you.

And it’s a bonus if every now and then, you can remember to say THANK YOU. ๐Ÿ™‚


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Are You Being Authentic? 5 Mistakes that Can Sabotage A Relationship

Are you being authentic in your relationships? What are the mistakes that can make relationships unhealthy? Here are 5 tips.

Have you ever noticed how nice we are to people when we first befriend or date them? And then, as the ‘honeymoon’ period in any relationship ends, we start showing our true colors. Is it safe to say that we weren’t being authentic enough? I think so.

Our need to get approval from the society we live in, is perhaps the only reason we create a facade around our identity. If we could stop fearing being ostracized, we wouldn’t be as prone to inauthentic behavior.

And we wouldn’t set such unrealistic standards. Then not being able to meet them, wouldn’t disappoint everyone involved, including ourselves.

That being said, here is a list of 5 mistakes we make and how they can get in our way of being more authentic in relationships.

#1 – Don’t use passive aggressive behavior. Get to the point.

Teasing someone for being late “again”, or passing a sour remark sugar-coated with a laugh to hide our annoyance, are pretty common.

But if you have the habit of continually taunting people for how they are, as a workaround for expressing your needs, you are giving up your right and power to communicate freely.

You might be doing this because of the fear that calling someone out for their behavior may lead to an argument, or that they’ll like you less. But in the long run, a relation built on resentment and unaddressed elephants in the room won’t be very healthy anyway.

So take a deep breath, and in a very calm, firm and compassionate way, express your needs and how someone may have fallen short to meet them.

hug, embrace, healthy relationship boundaries, authentic behavior

People want to make relationships work, and you have to show them how without avoiding confrontation.

If you’re struggling to understand your own triggers and express yourself more authoritatively, I recommend working on building your emotional awareness.

#2 – Don’t share too soon or too late.

Sometimes, we might rush to give away our deepest, darkest secrets as an attempt to win trust in a relationship. Or on the opposite end of the spectrum, we might share too little and end up appearing cold or disinterested. Let’s dissect both the possibilities.

Vulnerability doesn’t come naturally to most of us, because of our conditioning. But you know the best way to let someone see your real self? Let them in.
couple sitting near the body of water, authentic relationships

If you were going to share a story about yourself, you may cover the convenient details at first, trying to downplay your presence in the event. But try retelling it with a little more detail. And a little more. Then, a little more. Eventually, you’ll learn how to say things as they are. And you will realize that the person listening will be able to appreciate you more, for being authentic.

You’re essentially building your vulnerability muscle. ๐Ÿ™‚

Even if you were just 1% more vulnerable every time, imagine how authentic you’d grow to become in your relationships!

And is oversharing a real thing? Yes! If you’re the kind of person that goes into minute details the moment anyone asks you “how are you”, you may need to evaluate how much someone is invested in the conversation.

While it’s good to look at people as listeners to your story, you need to be mindful and acknowledge how much of their time you’re taking in the process.

So, essentially, authenticity is about being unapologetically yourself, without overwhelming the other person or wearing a mask.

#3 – Don’t lie. It’s not cool. Not even the white lies.

It can be tempting to lie, because our inner rebel wants to get away with something. But when we do that, two things are happening.

One, we’re dishonoring someone and taking an action at the expense of their trust. And two, we’re giving too much power to another person’s right to intervene in our choices.

upset, hurt, inauthentic behavior causes pain, dont lie, disappointment
When we give our personal power away in this way, it weakens our solar plexus and it can become difficult to trust ourselves in these very relationships.

Overtime, we forget what it’s like to be honest, so we resort to lying.

But, lying isn’t the solution. Setting up healthier relationship boundaries is. And so is learning the art of being assertive. Consistently being able to self-evaluate and tweak the do’s and don’ts of a relationship are much better than snooping around. Or not saying anything at all.

#4 – Don’t shy away from difficult conversations.

A relationship can not always be effortless and smooth. Even Gottman highlights that it’s perfectly healthy to argue and disagree, as long as there’s a desire to reconvene and resolve the differences.

two men talking

We are scared to have difficult conversations because we either don’t know what we’ll say in anger, or we’re afraid it’ll escalate to the point of a break-up.

But not acknowledging our needs is going to break our relationship anyway. So are we really doing anyone good by not expressing our needs or trying to understand theirs?

It’s time to practice your right to speak and be heard in the relationship.

#5 – Be authentic, but don’t be unfiltered.

Understand the difference between authenticity and unfiltered blabber.

Authentic doesn’t mean you say the first thing that comes on your mind. As adults, we need to remain accountable for how we are expressing ourselves.

We are NOT being authentic if we are profane, vulgar or disrespectful. Authenticity means acknowledging your pain, without trying to hurt someone else or create new pain for them.
anger, not authentic, unhappy, screaming, yelling, unhealthy relationship habits

So while it’s important to express oneself, you may be putting on a different wall around you, when you come from a place of self-defense or high ego.

The best trick in the hat, is to take a 20-minutes cooldown period and come back later with your thoughts gathered.

I also love Sonia Choquette‘s advice, to take a walk together with the person you’re conflicting with, to bring a harmony between your energies.

Concluding Thoughts

If we step back even further and look at it deeper, the number one obstacle in being authentic with others, is the fear of not being good enough. We’ve put ourselves on a pedestal, and we want to be perfect. But healthy relationships aren’t about the perfection, they thrive on genuineness.

While I encourage you to open up to others, I also want to emphasize on the need to be open with yourself.

Start exploring self-acceptance and self-love, the key to a healthier relationship within, and around. Here’s a video that might inspire some ideas for you.

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