These days I often hear certain political candidates described as "authentic," meaning that they speak their mind, and share their judgments and opinions freely. Often I've noticed, however, that this way of being occurs without regard of intentionality, consideration of impact, or self-assessment about the situation or audience at hand. Many recent articles have also suggested that you should not be "authentic" unless you are a celebrity, because you can only afford to do so if millions of people have already endorsed your value to society. However, being authentic is not to express your truth by emptying the content of your mind in front of someone. If this is authenticity, then when your child comes with excitement in her eyes to show you a drawing she made, you would be authentic by saying “That’s so ugly!” Or when you have the natural moments of not feeling attracted to your partner, being authentic would mean saying something like, “You look terrible, fat, and tired and I don’t feel attracted to you in this moment."
Sharing your judgments and opinions without regard to others is not only superficial, it can actually be very damaging. One client I've worked with who is very creative and artistic lived most of her life feeling unworthy because of all the times growing up she heard her father tell her that her drawings were ugly. When she wanted to make a living from her art, she could not have a sustainable business because in her internal dialogue, her art was ugly and never good enough to share or sell for a fair price.
Communicating with authenticity means communicating from a deeper place than where our thoughts and opinions stem from, and thinking about the context and the impact what we share has on others. Authenticity is not a technique. It is so much more than saying what we think and feel, it is a practice of being mindful of others while sharing what has real value to the relationship and to you.
We are all wired for connection. When we give attention to the desire to connect to someone else in a deep, intimate way, something in us tells us that we need to know what’s going on for us first. This is what I call our internal landscape. We cannot reveal to another person what we don’t know about us.
Once we explore our internal landscape, we tap into the human values (connection, respect, equality, friendship, trust, transparency, power, compassion, among others) we are intending to fulfill in a relationship. Furthermore, communication is a creative process with no set formula. When speak from our heart we can let our conversations unfold without thinking there is a right way of expressing ourselves.
When I coach couples and hear them communicate authentically with their partners, their tone of voice changes and they usually articulate words they do not usually use in their everyday conversation. They do this naturally. I love witnessing people who are looking for authenticity express their true self to their partner and no matter how challenging the topic is, the end result is a deeper sense of connection between them.
Any human being has the ability to acquire the tools needed to be truly authentic in relationship, which is why I feel so passionately about the work I do to help people connect with others through Language Alchemy.
We can all learn to access our deepest longings, notice and reduce our habitual reactive patterns, and learn how to engage with our family, friends and others with authenticity and courage even in difficult situations.
And if you ever need support, let me know! I'm here for you.