In the dance of the encounter, your sense of adaptation is always called upon. Whether it concerns a partner relationship, a working relationship or a relationship with friends and children: you cannot escape it. Adapting is one thing, losing yourself is another. The ability to express your thoughts and feelings while taking into account the opinions of others is called authenticity. At the bottom, that is being true to yourself.
If you adjust yourself too much, you will not be visible to others. The other then dances alone. He or she can’t really meet you and sooner or later that will avenge. Moreover, it is not good for your self-image. You let yourself down again and again and in doing so give yourself the message that you are not worth taking into account. And if you don’t, why should anyone else?
Self-confidence and attachment
When we talk about attachment, in the (English scientific) literature we are talking about attunement : attuning to each other. Alignment of the parent with the needs of their child is necessary for them to bond securely. When you know as a child that someone will pick you up when you’re in pain, put you in your bed when you’re tired or overstimulated, make sure you eat on time and get a dry diaper, then you feel safe. That way you can attach securely. You learn that if you express your needs, there will be an adequate response. Later that translates into standing up for yourself without fear of losing the love of others.
As an adult you have to be attuned to your needs. Authentic people are deeply connected to themselves, they are in touch with who they are and what they want. Do you keep letting yourself down by swallowing your words? Then encounters become unsafe because if you do not indicate what you need, the other person cannot take you into account. You may avoid them or you may end up swallowing more. Your encounters then become more survival than deepening and real contact.
Permission to the other
The great thing about people who are true to themselves is that, by doing so, they give permission to the other person to be true to themselves as well. You don’t have to play a role or a game to get the other person to take your wishes and needs into account. You do both yourself. You therefore do not have to take excessive account of the other person in the hope that the other person will also take you into account as a result. You take full responsibility for what you need and you bring that in. This way it is open and you can see together what you want to give to each other and how you want to meet each other. That gives you a lot of freedom!
Four keys to authentic behavior
I already talked about tuning in to yourself above. It is important to pay attention to your own feelings and needs. You do this by constantly returning to yourself in a conversation. If you are used to sensitively exploring what others want, then you can now do the same for yourself. It requires that you occasionally interrupt the focus on the other. If you think in images, you can use the image of fishing lines that you throw to someone else and that you now roll up again and put next to you.
Sometimes making contact with your own feelings is not even the most difficult, but much more accepting them. We make ourselves smaller and less important than anyone else. The other needs our care more than we do, has more ‘right’ to our attention. Or we make ourselves bigger from the idea that we ‘need nothing’. Especially if your earliest experiences were that your needs and desires were not being met, it can be painful to feel them. That alone can cause great anxiety. The thought that you don’t need anything feels much safer. Making yourself smaller or bigger are two routes to quickly leave yourself.
3. Let the difference exist
You can’t always agree with someone else and you won’t always agree with the other person. You can put into words how you view a situation, and what you think should be done. The other is free to accept it or not. The question is what do you do if the other person doesn’t take it and may resent you for not following him or her. Will you still adapt?
If you stay true to yourself, you must learn to make the difference. That’s what it is then. The difference is more honest and sincere than the illusion that you are in agreement while you are letting yourself down. It means enduring the discomfort. And the discomfort is very physically noticeable. It feels unsafe and you feel it in your body: your breath shoots up, your throat tightens, and your heart is pounding. And that’s what you have to go through every time.
Being true to yourself, being authentic, is not always accompanied by confirmation from others. It doesn’t even feel good, as we saw above! You follow a lonely road. Not only do you take your discomfort with sticking to your own point of view, but you also have to reassure yourself that you did the right thing because your behavior was in line with your own feelings and insights.
What does give a very good feeling is when you meet each other in complete honesty and openness. The relationship then deepens and in the dance of the meeting you come together in new places where you would never have come alone. And that’s what makes being true to yourself so rewarding. Because you can’t really meet each other until you’re really there.
What do you encounter when you are true to yourself, how do you endure the inconvenience, and what does it bring you?
Do you want to be more present from your soul in everyday life? In the yearly program The Whisper Still Voice you learn to listen to the voice of your soul and to navigate on the compass of your heart.