I have been researching the idea of being an ‘authentic self’ which is where we are true to ourselves and others, not covered up by our persona’s and fear of judgement from others’. This then led onto ‘authentic relationships’ which is where we have trustworthy, worthwhile, two-way relationships with people who do the same. Hard to come by sometimes nowadays, but the concepts are interesting and have fuelled me to strive towards both myself as they will save conflict, build trust, and make for better living. I do not feel either are totally achievable, but the ideas lead to some ways we can better ourselves and our relationships. One of the core things we need in life are good relationships and a good sense of self. I will be writing more about existential theory and our other needs in life soon, but until then, I shall share my learning and thoughts on being authentic first.
The ‘Authentic Self’
People pleasing, pretending to be nice, saying what we think people want to hear, amongst other things, are actually masking our authentic, true self. In this day-and-age, we tend to use ‘personas’ a lot where we act and communicate a certain way depending on who we are with. We might be more open and honest in a partner/marriage relationships than we do at work or with our family and we can end up having multiple personas, which is exhausting!
Do you use personas?
I am not saying their use is wrong. In fact, they can be helpful and self-protective in their nature, because we might keep with certain ethics with a person, or be politically correct with them. We might speak more clearly with people to make ourselves sound better, or pretend to be jolly and happy and successful when we are not. It is OK to be honest in the relationships that matter, so the goal is to decide which ones are important to you and work out how you can be more authentic with that person.
We spend our lives avoiding being judged by others’ but who are they to judge? We are all individuals and need to appreciate that we are all different. If we can be authentic then we can enjoy our own individuality and can grow as a person much more freely.
This does not mean we should let go of diplomacy and just tell everyone what we think because that is not always helpful to the other person(s) or ourselves if it ruins our relationships, but it is about getting a balance.
Anger can be a mask we wear when we are feeling vulnerable and scared. How can the other person know that we are vulnerable and scared and help us by validating our feelings if all we show them is anger and push them away? Of course, it might be the case that we don’t know ourselves that we are vulnerable and scared and just feel the anger, but practising being authentic could help us reveal these types of things as well.
Although we are in a society that pushes us to be successful or making money/having nice things etc, being genuine is also important. I know, myself, that the things that bring a tear to my eye the most are stories of genuine people who are honest about themselves and their relationships or battles with health for example. It is not about laying ourselves bare, making us vulnerable, it is just about being true to ourselves. Like most things in life, it’s about balance.
Put two people together who are not anywhere near authentic to themselves, and you can imagine it isn’t the best recipe for a trustworthy, authentic relationship. We might blame each other for the relationship being troubled or uncomfortable, but it could just be that we are both just not being genuine.
Many relationships are superficial
Many have no trust – built on lies
It’s all about me, me, me not we, we, we.
Many stay together despite there being abuse, arguments and other negatives.
To have something of an authentic relationship is special. It happens when two people are honest, authentic to themselves, and compassionate, as much as they can be.
Trust is a huge part of a good relationship. If you lie to someone or they lie to you, how can you be authentic? Lying can hurt you as a person, possibly even more than the person you are lying to.
You may desire or seek to change yourself, but trying to change another person to suit you is a sure-fire way to push the other person away. I talk about individuality a lot myself, and even have the word tattooed on my back in Japanese, because we need to recognise that everyone is different and they have a right to be, just as we do ourselves. Our thoughts, ethics, behaviours etc are different and it is something to be enjoyed, not fought against.
Be as authentic as you can in how you communicate with others. Instead of loading questions, hinting and expecting them to know exactly what you mean, be honest. If we lead people to make their own assumptions about what we mean, it could become a disaster. In the same way, if we make assumptions about others’ instead of asking them to be more clear about what they mean, that could be equally negative.
Be aware of the purpose of your relationships with people. Are they worthwhile to you, and are you worthwhile to them? We can tend to just keep relationships of any kind going just because we don’t want to ‘fail’ or ‘lose’ in relationships, but that is not enough reason to keep them going. They need to be beneficial, not in a selfish way, but in a useful way.