5 Ways You Can Be More Authentic Today
I recently enjoyed reading "[amazon_textlink asin='0915811928' text='Getting Real: The Ten Truth Skills You Need to Live an Authentic Life' template='ProductLink' store='bewhyoar09-20' marketplace='US' link_id='3f7cad9e-8f15-11e7-969b-db83efa1c1a6']" by Susan Campbell Ph. D. It's certainly given me a lot to think about regarding my own communication with myself and others.One of the things I appreciated about the book was that her truth skills were all actionable. Although they might be challenging to remember, act on, or communicate well in the moment (especially as we start to practice being more authentic), they are all things we can start doing today.The notion of "being authentic" can feel daunting at times, as it provokes the question: "But how?!", so in this post I thought I would follow Dr Campbell's lead and share some actionable steps we can start taking today to be more authentic with ourselves and those around us.
1. Use "I-" messages
One of the most common blocks to authenticity that I've certainly experienced is the temptation to focus on the other person in a conversation, and talk about their actions, feelings and motivations. As Campbell points out, this is a way of controlling the conversation, and protecting ourselves.If we are to be truly authentic, and if we want the conversation to be as productive as possible, we focus on our own feelings and needs. This doesn't exclude listening to the other person (of course that's still important), but it means that we're focusing on making ourselves heard, rather than second-guessing what's happening for our conversation partner.Examples of I-messages include:I feel sadI notice that I feel tenseI have a need for connection
2. Express the difference between "I notice" and "I imagine"
As I mentioned above, we often get caught up in focusing on what's going on with the other person in a conversation. This comes out in statements like "You're just saying that to make me feel X", "You're not listening to me" and other statements that imply we know what our conversation partner is thinking and feeling.In reality, all we know for sure is what we're thinking and feeling. When it comes to the other person, we can guess - but it will be a guess. So in this situation, the most authentic response is to tell it like it is using "I notice" and "I imagine". Using this response helps us communicate authentically, while still taking responsibility for our own assumptions and beliefs.For example:"I notice that I'm feeling hurt and I imagine that you might have said that without thinking about how it would impact me"."I notice when I'm talking to you that you're looking away at the TV and I imagine you're not listening to me.""I notice that when I bring up [insert subject here], you sigh and look away. I imagine that you don't really want to talk about it with me."When we start differentiating between what we can objectively see and where our mind fills in the gaps, we're already being more authentic in conversations.
3. Be bold
Very few people enjoy feeling uncomfortable, so when we start to feel creeping anxiety or nervousness, we retreat. Many of us have conditioned beliefs about the way we 'should' interact with people. When these beliefs jar with our authentic selves, we can feel intensely uncomfortable expressing how we really feel.Being authentic requires us to become comfortable with discomfort, to be bold, and to step out of our comfort zone in order to sit with our authentic feelings and to communicate them with others. The first few times are the hardest, but the rewards are more than worth it.
4. Notice your 'shoulds'
Just as it's helpful to notice our 'should's in our interactions with other people, it's helpful to notice them in other areas of our lives too. How do your 'should's fit in with your other feelings and needs? Are you spending a lot of time thinking about how other people 'should' be?The point of noticing this isn't to judge ourselves, but just to notice where we might need to pay a little more attention to our authenticity.
5. Check in with your feelings
As Dr Campbell writes in Getting Real, "You can only be as authentic as you are self-aware."As I describe in my upcoming book, noticing how we feel is a natural skill, yet for various reasons we can lose our connection with our feelings. When that happens, we ask ourselves "How do you feel right now?" and the answer that comes back is "...?".One of the most useful things we can do to get back in touch with our feelings is simply to practise. Throughout the day, stop periodically and ask yourselfHow am I feeling? What do I notice about my physical and emotional feelings?What am I needing right now?What can I do to try to meet that need?At first the answer might be "...?" but the more we ask these questions, the more likely we are to hear our true response.What are your favourite tips for bringing more authenticity into your life? Leave a comment and let me know!
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