Are you living a lie? Most of us see this question and say, “No! Of course not,” but how many of us truly display our authentic selves in our interactions?
You go on a first date and what happens? Do you immediately open up about your childhood, your religious beliefs or layout your expectations in relationships? Do you tell your new friend the intimate details of your life and your innermost feelings?
Of course, to most people the thought of this level of nakedness is ridiculous. Some would even express laughter or shock at the prospect of so much over-sharing.
But what about those who are in relationships or married? Do you share everything with your spouse? Are there certain “secrets” you keep hidden. Do you tell him where the dent in the car really came from? Do you hide your Amazon orders?
What about the intimate details? Not the little white lies you cover up, but the secrets we’re afraid to share because they make us vulnerable. Do you tell your spouse what you really yearn for? Do you ask them directly to show more affection: to hold your hand or kiss you in public because it’s what you need?
Finally, what about the feelings you don’t bring up because you don’t want to fight? When your spouse pisses you off, do you call them out? When you trip over their sandals on the stairs or wash their dish in the sink, do you let them know you’re irritated or do you silently stew?
These little moments of holding back build up. If you’re not expressing our authentic, true feelings from day one (yes, even on the first date) we’re not fully experiencing true intimacy.
True intimacy comes from being vulnerable, naked, open with another person. It’s a completely authentic state. It’s being so comfortable you can burp or fart in front of your significant other and laugh it off. It’s allowing the messiness of our lives to spill over and to share with another. Intimacy isn’t just during sex, but at all times. It’s becoming acquainted with the deepest recesses of each other’s personality.
Sounds scary, right?
For most of us, we’ve spent years of our lives building safe walls and personas. We’ve created a personality we believe will lure people in and attract them to us. We’ve carefully cultivated who we are to create someone who’s charming, pleasing and appealing to others. We create what psychologist, D.W. Winnicott deemed the “False Self.”
Our True Self is full of aliveness. When we’re displaying our True Self, we’re authentic. We’re genuine and our heart is in tune with our actions. When we’re working as our True Self, we’ve let go of who we’re “trying” to be and instead, simply being.
This naked authenticity allows us to be truly intimate with other people. Not only our spouse, but our friends, our family and those around us. We know when someone loves us, they truly love our authentic self. They love who we really are, not simply who we pretend to be.
Unfortunately, most of us build up ideas of how a relationship should look. We’ve created an idea of a fairytale romance; one where we “get” someone to “fall” for us (sounds pretty inauthentic, right?) and then we seduce them into a connection.
Even the concept of seduction is rooted in deception. Seduction is defined as deliberately enticing someone to engage in a relationship or to be led astray. We feel like we’re tricking someone into liking us, or connecting with us. This is an obvious display of our False Self.
Instead, by being open and honest—truly honest—we create instant trust. When you meet a genuine person, chances are you’re drawn to them. You don’t necessarily agree with everything they do or say, but because they’re “real” you feel a fast connection.
When we see a celebrity, politician or person of note display emotion, what do we say? “He was so authentic,” or “I felt like I really connected with her because she was so open.” Truly, our vulnerabilities make us stronger, yet we avoid them out of fear of being week.
There are no bad emotions—fear, anger, hurt, sadness, joy—they’re all part of what makes us human. When we hide and tamp down these emotions, we’re denying ourselves that very real human connection.
In our book, The Heart of the Fight, we bust common relationship myths, and instead embrace new truths of relationships including:
Conflict comes from a place of honesty and truth. You see, if we believe something and hold it dear as our truth, then it’s worth fighting for. If we want true intimacy and an honest relationship, we must accept we won’t always agree. That’s okay! Growth doesn’t come from a place without resistance. Growth is born of struggle and conflict. If you want to grow in your relationship, it won’t always feel comfortable.
The secret behind greater intimacy is to stop pleasing others and putting on a front. When you walk in a restaurant, order what you want! When you are annoyed by a comment, say so! Don’t feel afraid to lay it all out on the table.
How much heartache and how many problems could be resolved if couples put it all out there? Imagine a first date where you were completely honest about your expectations. What if you told them exactly what you wanted, what you valued and what you needed in a relationship? What if you were just…honest?
As you interact with others whether it’s your friend, your partner, spouse or coworkers, make a pact with yourself to embrace honesty. Express how you really feel. Don’t worry about what people with think or if people won’t like you. Simply be your real, honest, authentic self.
For more ways to become your best self, visit the Wright Foundation. Please join us for an upcoming workshop or event.
Dr. Bob Wright is an internationally recognized visionary, educator, program developer, leadership and sales executive, best-selling author and speaker. He is a co-founder of Wright and the Wright Graduate University.
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The Wright Foundation for the Realization of Human Potential is a leadership institute located in Chicago, Illinois. Wright Living performative learning programs are integrated into the curriculum at Wright Graduate University.