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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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 to 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.
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.
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 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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