“...true belonging only happens when we present our authentic, imperfect selves to the world, our sense of belonging can never be greater than our level of self-acceptance.” — Brené Brown
At the core of Authentic Relating is the ability to reveal our inner experience to others. Deep down we want to belong, to be understood, accepted, and appreciated just as we are. Yet we’ve learned through social conditioning that we “should” figure out what others expect or want from us, and to try being that instead. This is understandable, and though we can often get what we want or need by meeting other's expectations, if we lose contact with our authentic selves, then we sabotage our ability to experience belonging, just as we are.
“Vulnerability sounds like truth and feels like courage. Truth and courage aren't always comfortable, but they're never weakness.” — Brené Brown
The way we’ve reliably found through this conundrum is by revealing your experience. Developing this skill is developing your capacity to be open, vulnerable, and authentic.
To the degree that we don’t believe we are deserving of understanding and belonging, we will “put on” one or more personas. These personas are created in such a way as to hide the parts of ourselves we believe are undeserving, unworthy, or otherwise unfit to reveal. We believe these personas will somehow get us the understanding and belonging we long for deep down, but in the end, they won’t. We also need to reveal our experience vulnerably.
“Vulnerability is... the fundamental element of building trust and connection with other human beings. “ — Mike Robbins
As we’re first getting the hang of this it takes practice because we’ve grown used to our personas. As you’re developing, it helps to have a clear context for practice—a time, a place, and with others who have agreed to listen.
Along the way you’ll recognize that there are layers. You may reveal something previously hidden, only to discover that there’s yet another layer of something yet to be revealed. What might have felt edgy or raw to reveal one day, might turn out to be easier another day. Or perhaps it’s just not what’s currently applicable or “alive” anymore. In a sense, authenticity is a moving target, from one moment to the next, possibly concealed beneath multiple layers.
“Authenticity is not something we have or don’t have. It’s a practice.” — Brené Brown
As we begin to peel back our personas (or other ways we’re hiding), we usually come in direct contact with the parts we’re hiding—ways we believe we’re undeserving, unworthy, or shameful. As we reveal, we’ll begin releasing this shame. Then we’ll often experience a sense of sadness or grief. The good news is that’s not the whole story. There’s more.
“Vulnerability is not about fear and grief and disappointment. It’s the birthplace of everything we’re hungry for.” — Brené Brown
In a live, in-the-moment connection with another, you can reveal what it is like to be with this person. We call this “sharing impact.” This can often feel very alive, exciting, or intense! Sharing the impact someone is having on you while present together usually takes the interaction to a whole new level—typically one with more depth, intimacy, and connection.
Everyone’s journey into Authenticity is unique. Each moment is different than the next. Each layer different than the prior. Yet the more you practice, the more you’ll experience inner peace, wholeness, and self-acceptance. And you’ll probably also find a deeper sense of liberation, power, creativity, and connection. May your journey yield all the richness your authentic self has to offer.
“It's our ability to embrace vulnerability that allows us to experience true authenticity, and thus true freedom and power in life.” — Mike Robbins
“The moment that you feel that, just possibly, you’re walking down the street naked, exposing too much of your heart and your mind and what exists on the inside, showing too much of yourself. That’s the moment you may be starting to get it right.” — Neil Gaiman
Michael Porcelli is committed to people cultivating more realness in their relationships both personally and professionally. He’s played a key role developing a world-class team of facilitators and Course Leaders with The Integral Center and AuthenticWorld. Whether it’s taking people into deep interpersonal encounters in the moment, crafting a training curriculum, or facilitating a fast-paced business meeting, you’ll find him friendly, down-to-earth, and probably ready geek-out at the drop of a hat.