The Trouble with Authenticity
Has anyone ever asked you, “How are you doing?”, and it’s a day when you’re not at your best? You don’t want to be a downer, nor do you want to discuss it. So, you lie and say “I’m great!”
All of us have experience with this, our culture has trained us how to pretend and save face. If this automated response was costing you more than you have ever thought possible, would you want to know about it?
Soulful relationships are grounded in trust. When you connect with others in a soulful way there is no room for pretense. As our capacity for soulful connection deepens, so does our capacity to feel others feelings. If people are deceiving themselves or others it becomes a glaring incongruity. And old conditioned ways of looking the other way until it has passed simply don’t cut it anymore. We can’t fool people the way we used to, they can see right through a smiling façade.
Evolutionary communities that are dedicated to bring forth the highest and best in everyone involved, quickly face a new challenge of social harmony. How do we create a safe space for honesty at all times when many of the folks in the community are going through a healing process that’s emotionally messy? You know all that deep stuff that has to come up and out, before you can integrate a liberating spiritual truth into your physical and emotional body. You know those uncomfortable socially unacceptable feelings like fear, grief, despair, anger and the most socially unacceptable of all, self-loathing.
What if you ask someone how they are doing and they actually tell you the honest truth? Are you ready for it? How much truth is ok? You want the truth, not a therapy session. Confronting old patterns of social denial and finding new ways for casual social relating are challenging.
Can you imagine meeting a friend at the grocery store and you casually ask, “How are you doing?”, and they respond with, “I’m dealing with my self-loathing issues lately.”? What is an appropriate response? To a large degree it’s determined by how safe the relationship is and what spoken or unspoken agreements are in place.
What used to be obscured by social denial and “going polite” is going the way of the dinosaurs. Humanity’s deepening capacities for love and care are requiring new social agreements.
I don’t think there is a one size fits all way of dealing with this issue. But, I have seen families and communities who have found new ways of being fully present to emotional truth without it be a drag on the conversation. It requires new language patterns and a new understanding about what truly brings out the best in our relationship with our self and with others, in an evolving social milieu.
The rules are changing. We can all shape a new conversation about social honesty that empowers new evolutionary ways of relating.
Where would you start?
Because we are problem solvers with a keen interest in matters of the heart and relationships, we have worked out some of our own solutions to this dilemma.
There might be a Part Two to this post if there are enough responses to this one.
We want to benefit from your wisdom and experience.
What is your experience with this kind of awkwardness? Have you ever discussed it? Have you had to develop a new vocabulary to find your way?