I got this question in the box in the right hand margin of this page (if you have any question at all about living an authentic life please feel free to post it, and I’ll give my best answer), here’s my response.
You ask what we feel prevents us from living authentically? Telling people what I really think does that for me. I do realize that truthfully that is not possible but oh that I wonder what it would be like?!
For me it is a lightness and feeling of fullness. There is an elation to it and an ease.
Is this not possible? Sometimes it may not be. Other times it is possible for most of us, I think.
- There are situations where power is exercised in such a way that truth is not welcome. “Politics is the management of perceptions” is an example.
- There are places where it is dangerous to tell the truth. Some people will regard it as provocation to violence and act violently.
Sometimes it is a need for skill – ‘having the right words’. The cliché example being the spouse asking, “Do you like my new clothes?” when you don’t like them much at all.
- One possibility is to ignore the question and respond to what you guess is the underlying need, “I think you’re a delightful person to be with, a gifted [whatever], who I am each day thankful to be with.”
- Another possibility is to give a detailed response: I think the cut suits you [here] but not so much [here], the colour goes with your eyes, it is/not your usual style.
We can build our vocabulary and repertoire of responses by watching others (perhaps even from movies and novels).
I think for most of us most of the time it is possible for us to expand the amount of time and places where we can speak truly.
- It can help to start with strangers where any consequences will be minimal or non-existent. Respond genuinely to enquiries about your health or wishes for having a good day. It only takes a moment to pause and respond genuinely.
- From here it may be possible to move on to more times and places. (Take time to get used to it with strangers first. There’s no need to rush. Feel comfortable that you can do it in one place before moving on.)
To live more authentically it does matter that we speak the truth. And for most of us most of the time I think it is possible for us to speak the truth more.
I realise this is a big topic. And now I can think of different ways of responding to the original comment. All comments very welcome in the comments box below.
I'm Evan Hadkins. I'm Evan Hadkins. To find out how to live a more satisfying life you can download my manifesto on living authentically. It is a book of exercises to guide you to finding, nourishing and living from the core of who you are.
If you would like me to write about some aspect of living an authentic life please don’t hesitate to get in touch. There is a box in the sidebar where you can leave a question anonymously if you wish, or you can email me, use the contact page, or comment on this post.