1sby Jess Nichol

I used to be nice. Quiet, polite, didn’t make ripples. That was me on the outside. But on the inside it was often a different story: frustration, judgment, anger.

I worked hard to not let any of that show. At various points in my life I’d learned that if I spoke up about what was really going on for me in an interaction I would likely lose the connection and maybe even the whole relationship. So if I was having a hard time in a conversation, I’d try to escape as quickly as possible, maybe drink a glass of wine, and deal with my experience on my own. Mostly I’d do my best to avoid that person or scenario in the future.

It turns out that this avoidance strategy didn’t work out so well. What it mostly got me was a good dose of disconnection, loneliness, and occasional hangovers.

I wanted more than this.

Then one day four years ago, I went to an event at my friend Robert’s house. There were a bunch of people hanging out in a living room. They were talking to each other in a way that was totally unfamiliar to me. They were sharing their internal experience with each other in the present moment. Someone would say something that was happening for them, and then another person would say how it was for them to hear that. Then someone else would say what they imagined it was like to be that person. They seemed to care about each other in a way that I had never seen. And the openness was astounding. At first I thought that maybe they were high, but they weren’t. They were “Authentic Relating.”

Since that first night, I’ve been hooked. After so many years of not knowing how to express myself, Authentic Relating opened a door for the extravagant possibility of welcoming and expressing what’s actually happening. So I can say I’m angry, or bored, or attracted, or distracted. I can say anything and everything about what I’m aware of during an interaction, and it’s simply part of the ever-changing moment.

Here’s the trick to Authentic Relating: we stay in connection. We don’t just sh*t on someone and walk away. Anything can come up, and the guideline is to stay in connection and in communication. It’s bringing truth into connection. Love first. Truth second.

So my fear of losing a relationship if I bring my truth no longer holds water. These days I see that my relationships are often more in jeopardy if I DON’T bring my truth.

Now my relationships are better. My work is better. My life is better. There’s more potency and more connection everywhere.

I love being a part of the course leader team at The Integral Center, where participants learn to infuse their lives with richer, more rewarding, more powerful interactions. Perhaps you aren’t as inept at expressing yourself as I used to be, but if you want more connection in your life, consider joining us to up-level your relational skills.

You will not be disappointed! Well, maybe you will have moments of disappointment. But we'll support you in expressing and being in connection about it. 😉