Recently, Authentic Relating was featured in The Atlantic, told from the point of view of someone fairly new to Authentic Relating Games. If you haven’t read the article, I recommend you check it out. I think it’s a great starting point for a conversation about what is possible in one's journey through the world of Authentic Relating.
As humans, we’re intrinsically social. This point was driven home for me by stand-up comedian Joe Rogan—
“...we need people so bad that the worst shit you can do to a prisoner is put them in solitary confinement. So think about that. You’re in a cement box filled with rapists and murderers. And the worst shit they can do is leave you alone.”
The thing is, in most of today’s environments, we’re not developing socially the way our bodies evolved to connect—face-to-face and eye-to-eye. As Sean Grover, group therapy leader, said in The Atlantic article, “Lack of attunement between people now is the norm. Technologies, cell phones, people are just so out of tune with each other.” Some research results indicate this kind of “arrested social development” is on the rise in today’s children, as is loneliness and isolation in general.
My colleague and friend Sara Ness captures our remedy in the article when she describes Authentic Relating events as “...a place and excuse to connect with each other, which is most of what we need for wellness.”
Early experiences with Authentic Relating Games will often lead to the discovery that the anxieties and upsets arising from the challenges of life are not unique to you. You’re not alone, and knowing this can be a relief in itself. Taylor Prewitt, author of the article, shares “my psychiatrist suggested I try group therapy to help me recognize I’m not alone in the anxiety career uncertainty brings.” A fellow participant reports his experience like “bringing fish to water.”
Once you’ve found the experience of connection available at an Authentic Relating Games event, you’ll probably be hooked. My buddy Bryan Bayer (co-founder of The Integral Center) describes this in the article—“Just revealing something vulnerable about yourself can be its own rush, it can be its own thrill.”
This is well and good, and will keep you coming back for more. But here’s where I think the The Atlantic article is misleading. It begins with the title, “The Club Where You Bare Your Soul to Strangers”, a place later described where “initiates” come to events for “meaningful, exhilarating connection that’s more difficult to find in the day-to-day”.
I don’t think this is enough.
Authentic Relating Games are not primarily what Authentic Relating is about.
The real paydirt from Authentic Relating comes once you’ve internalized the the principles, the skills, and ways of being to such a degree, it’s like riding a bike, impossible to forget. This means you’ll be capable of creating the kind of connection you want and having the kind of impact you want in your day-to-day connections wherever, whenever, and with whomever you want.
“Act II” of the mythic structure of the Hero’s Journey (outlined by Joseph Campbell) begins with “crossing the threshold” into a “special world” where the hero is rewarded for completing a transformational ordeal. Indeed, Authentic Relating Game events can feel like a “special world”. The thing is, there’s an “Act III”, where the hero returns to the “ordinary world” bringing gifts for those back home.
Recently, I brought attention to “Everything Wrong with Circling and Authentic Relating Culture” at our Relational Leadership Summit in Boulder. An overall pattern I see time and again in our “special world” is the failure of Authentic Relating “heroes” to complete their journey, bringing their newfound gifts and powers back to the “ordinary world”—to friends, families, intimate partners, and colleagues.
I specifically designed the Authentic Relating Comprehensive course to help you integrate the principles and practices of Authentic Relating to your everyday lives, in the relationships that matter most to you. (You can get a taste of how this works by checking out my Foundations of Authentic Relating blog series and read “What’s Wrong with Just ‘Being Yourself’” for more about my personal journey.)
Join me in my ongoing journey supporting others in reclaiming their natural birthright—authentic human connection. As Sara said in the article, it one day it might “be the norm to communicate this way.” That’s the kind of world I want to live in.