“We are constantly invited to be who we are.” ~Henry David Thoreau
When your circumstances invite you to present your true self to others, do you accept the invitation?
I think of authentic communication as sharing the unfiltered essence of ourselves with others, including our identities, feelings, needs, boundaries, and desires.
It’s taken me many years to learn how to communicate this way. I’ve written in prior posts that speaking my truth once felt like an insurmountable challenge, like rolling an elephant up a hill or finding another living being who actually likes Nickelback. (Anyone? No?)
I was plagued by inauthenticity.
I would leave conflicts wishing I’d spoken up for myself; leave social settings feeling totally drained; over-commit to obligations and under-commit to activities that brought me joy; agree to be intimate with people, only to later regret my decision; and give more than I received in the majority of my relationships.
Somewhere beneath the layers of people-pleasing, white lies, and insecurity, I knew there was a bold, confident, self-actualized woman. I wanted, more than anything, to become her.
On the journey to becoming that woman, I have learned that authentic communication is like working a muscle: hard at first, but ever easier with exercise.
As with all exercises, you don’t run the 400 meter dash right out the of gates. You stretch; you jog a lap; you warm up.
Here are nine easy ways you can warm up your authenticity muscle today to prepare for a lifetime of authentic communication.
1. Name how you feel, right now, as you read this.
“There is something wonderfully bold and liberating about saying yes to our entire imperfect and messy life.” ~Tara Brach
Let’s start off on the right foot. Take thirty seconds to reflect on how you feel right now. Notice what’s going on in your heart; notice what type of tension you might be carrying in your neck and shoulders; notice how it feels to let a deep breath land in your chest.
Perhaps you’ve been operating on autopilot since the moment you woke up and reached for your phone. Perhaps you’ve stumbled down an Internet wormhole, and this is the first time in hours you’ve remembered you have a body. In order to communicate your feelings authentically, you first must know how you feel.
2. When a friend/family member/barista asks how you are, tell them the truth.
“The speaking will get easier and easier. And you will find you have fallen in love with your own…