ASHLEY – this is a really good question you posed:

“However, the thing I wonder about is how much of your “vulnerability” and true self should you leave exposed to all others.”

I wonder this too, about being “appropriately” vulnerable, as opposed to carte blance vulnerable. Because aren’t we getting into “don’t cast your pearls before swine” territory?

If you KNOW someone cannot hear you (or doesn’t want to), why expend the energy to be authentic? Why not just walk away, or let it go? Is it because there is a lot of grey area in the assumption that someone can’t/doesn’t want your authenticity? But what about relationships where the person has demonstrated over and over again that they don’t want you to be honest… what then?

I read an article of Brene’s (about the Dixie Chicks speaking out) where she writes:

“How can we be authentic when we are desperately trying to manage and control how others perceive us? How can we be honest with people about our beliefs and, at the same time, tell them what we think they want to hear? How do we stand up for what we believe in when we are trying to make everyone around us feel comfortable so they won’t get angry and put us down?”

(Source: http://www.chron.com/default/article/We-should-all-take-voice-lessons-from-Dixie-1808725.php#page-1 )

In the article, Brene gives several examples of where women suffered negative consequences as a result of NOT being authentic. But what about when you suffer negative consequences *because* you are authentic? For some issues, it would be worth it (racism, injustice, abuse, etc.).

But for others – for example, you have a mother-in-law who believes abortion in any circumstance is wrong and if you disagree with her, she goes ballistic, refuses to attend family gatherings, won’t see her grandkids, etc. So… do you want to keep being authentic every time she brings up abortion, or do you just want to switch the subject, or leave the room?

As you said: “because of the fact that those that surround you are so immersed in their facade that they can’t handle authenticity”

And what about cultures (like the Chinese) where allowing others to “save face” through not being overtly truthful is a crucial social and business skill? Although, because such cultures are skilled at non-verbal communication, everyone knows the truth anyway – so they actually are not being inauthentic! Wouldn’t walking out the room when your mother-in-law starts her abortion comments be the equivalent of “saving face” – she knows your opinion, everyone else in the room knows your truth, why does it have to be spoken?

I just read the quote from Brene again:

“How can we be authentic when we are desperately trying to manage and control how others perceive us? How can we be honest with people about our beliefs and, at the same time, tell them what we think they want to hear? How do we stand up for what we believe in when we are trying to make everyone around us feel comfortable so they won’t get angry and put us down?”

And perhaps the qualifying distinction here is:

BAD: When you avoid authenticity because of your insecurities and fear of letting yourself be seen.

GOOD: When you avoid authenticity – in that moment – because you are the bigger person, the person with more wisdom and it is a tactical decision – one based in experience and wisdom, not insecurity. So it is a wisdom-based decision, not a fear-based decision.

How about that?





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