“Authenticity does not conceal real feelings to keep up a false identity. Transparentbehavior is comfortable being real.” – Excerpt from Wisdom Hunters Devotional
It has been said that “the best predictor of current or future behavior is past behavior.” In other words, you get a sense of the way people will behave and respond to a particular situation by examining their behavior patterns over time. While I agree with this perspective, I also realize that the complexity of human behavior involves so many motivating factors that this thought cannot be taken as doctrine. What I think is even more important than a pattern of behavior is the authenticity of the behavior.
There Can Be No Authenticity Without Transparency
Any behavior/act, even if unauthentic, can become a pattern if it is positively reinforced and/or if the purpose of the behavior (or motive behind it) is accomplished. For this reason, we cannot assume an individual’s behavior is authentic (true), regardless of how often they behave in a particular manner. After all, many of us have become pros at the “roles” we play and the masks we wear. What aids true authenticity is transparency. In your relationships, how transparent are you about your feelings, motivations, fears, doubts, hopes, expectations…? Authenticity can become a behavior (character) pattern if transparency is regularly practiced. Now, I know that this may be challenging because trust has to be established before transparency can occur. And unfortunately that’s one of the biggest issues in relationships today: lack of trust.
It Takes Trust To Be Transparent
How can I be transparent with someone I don’t trust? And how can I be truly authentic with someone I can’t be transparent with?
There is a level of vulnerability that we risk every time we are transparent and whether or not we continue in transparency is based on the response we get to this vulnerability. Have you ever shared your feelings with someone…your genuine feelings/motives/expectations (however trivial or insignificant)…and they were dismissive, nonchalant, or unresponsive? How did it make you feel? I think if we used our past experiences of being hurt to positively guide us in how to treat others, our relationships would get an extreme makeover. If I remember how it felt to have my honest feelings dismissed or ignored, then I’ll be more mindful the next time someone trusts me enough to be vulnerable and transparent with me about their feelings. That’s the first step towards building a safe place of trust.
Authenticity is a Process Aided By Vulnerability
Instead of covering up or hiding your feelings in response to someone’s hurtful response to your transparency, try to press forward in remaining true to the process of authenticity. I’m not implying that you share your heart in reckless abandon with everyone you come in contact with; but rather, don’t allow one person’s harsh response (or lack of response) to block your progress through your process. The truth is someone’s negative reaction to your transparency is often a reflection of their own inability to face the unpleasant areas of themselves. I’ve found that our wounds often remind others of the wounds they’ve suppressed and tried desperately to forget. In dismissing you, they’re really dismissing the parts of themselves they haven’t yet accepted and can’t yet tolerate. So, stay true to your own process.
“You Win Some, You Learn Some”
Everything we experience in life serves as a lesson. If we focus more on the lesson than the pain, we’ll never lose. More importantly, keep your eyes fixed on what you want to accomplish for you and don’t allow outside influences to hinder that process. For me, authenticity is the desired goal. I’m becoming more comfortable in my own skin and in claiming all the parts of me – ugly and beautiful. If I bring my authentic self into a situation and I am not received, that may impact the dynamics of my interaction with that particular person, but it will not prevent me from moving forward in authenticity. Don’t allow one person’s negative response to change you. Self-actualization is a journey and the more authentic you become (i.e. the more your real and ideal selves align), the closer you are to your desired goal…. the discovery of the you that you truly are, underneath it all. That’s the only you worth really sharing with others.
Prayer: Lord, help us to be our true authentic selves. The men and women You created us to be. Help us see that even though we risk vulnerability every time we’re transparent, we indirectly forfeit something far greater when we choose to not be authentic – a deeper level of intimacy with our significant others. And though the choice is ultimately ours, please help us to choose Your way. Amen.