As I move into more authenticity in my relationships, I often notice and talk about the hard parts: the fear of rejection/abandonment, and the sadness of old, unprocessed loss. However, an unexpected benefit on this journey has been a shift in values, from pinning my worth on other people’s acceptance of me, to assessing myself on the basis of my own internal congruence: How complete have I been? How fully have I represented myself? Have I left anything unsaid? Have I been kind, and in accord with my principles?
From the perspective of a person who derives their worth from others’ acceptance (as most of us do when we’re just starting this journey), authenticity is a tremendously risky proposition. Rejection, or abandonment, equates to worthlessness. And of course, if we are simply authentic, simply ourselves, sometimes we will be abandoned!
However, as the sense of self worth shifts from being derived externally to being derived internally, the risk associated with authenticity, and abandonment, diminishes. It’s a virtuous cycle:
Willingness to tolerate abandonment fear –> more authentic behavior –> values shift from external acceptance to internal congruence –> fear diminishes further –> still more authentic behavior –> values shift further…
In addition, any relationship in which we are practicing this way will become imbued with ever more trust and reliability (as long as it survives). We are no longer afraid of being “found out,” because we’ve shown ourselves, said the hard things, asked for what we need. We can truly trust and let go in front of our companions.
And as a side note, I should stress that any relationship which doesn’t survive Authentic You makes room for one that will!
If you’re reading this and it all sounds very obvious, you may be one of the lucky ones who never learned to be inauthentic in the first place. I’m glad our cockeyed, individualistic society still has people like you in it! If my message does resonate, or if you find yourself asking, as I did at the beginning, “how do I even know if I’m being authentic,” then I hope this post normalizes the issue and provides some sense of the way forward. It’s a challenging and humbling journey, but so worth it. Keep going!