When your authentic self is in play, you decide what matters to you, and then set standards for yourself to live up to in those areas. We all sometimes try to live up to the opinions and expectations of others, and because it does not come from our place of power, it remains a struggle and we are then often seen as not good enough in the eyes of others.
When it truly matters to you the struggle is lost. It is the way you are, and therefore requires little effort.
So, how do you know you are not playing to your authentic self? Here are some pointers:
- You put on your ‘best face’ and hide any feelings of unease, or disagreement.
- You make vague hints about what you really want without saying it clearly.
- You are “tactful” and “polite”, but go away feeling bad because the problem has not been resolved, and not good because you were so nice.
- You begin to make long-winded statements in generalized and abstract terms – ‘you know, some people in this family think that only others have money’.
- You talk about past circumstances or stories that somehow relate to what is happening – instead of actually talking about what is happening.
- You “give-in” or “play nice”, often agreeing to something that you truly would not prefer – for the sake of ‘ keeping the peace.’ And then you hate yourself for it.
- You dispense the silent treatment.
- You hide your true motives because you believe it gives you an upper hand in eventually getting your way.
In other words you avoid, you hold back, you give in.
- You make up your mind about what you want before any discussion and are determined to have it. So it doesn’t matter what the other person says or does.
- You express strong emotions, such as anger when people disagree with you.
- You make demands and ultimatums – if you don’t do this then forget that!
- You make short, generalized, absolute value judgments, like ‘short men have issues”.
- You try to beat down disagreement, crush the competition, and win the discussion at any cost.
- You resort to insult, tantrum, or shouting when the going gets tough – like a child.
- You are used to either getting your way, or alienating other people – with little or no middle ground.
In other words you get pushy.
Whether you are bullying or avoiding, it is very likely that you are driven by fear, self-victimization, and a compulsion to try to control and manipulate others.
What’s the cost? Loss of connection and trust, bitterness and resentment, loneliness and isolation.
Is this who you are?
To communicate authentically you need focus on mutual understanding. This suggests understanding self, and trying to understand the other. When you are having an authentic conversation you move back and forth from revealing yourself to listening. “My friend, you promised to pay that money last month, and you haven’t. What is the problem?”
Authentic communication focuses on honest self-expression – you know yourself and are confident in who you are. You are not afraid to express your feelings, you do not expect others to share your feelings, but you expect them to allow you to have them. And you do the same for them.
And authentic communication is the most powerful manifestation of playing to your authentic self.