Today, I discuss who you should be authentic with.
Table of Contents
- Who Should You Be Authentic With?
- 1) People Curious About Mundane Things
- 2) People who are comfortable asking you for help
- 3) People who are on the same life path as you
- The Importance of Authentic Connections
- Further Actions and Readings
Who Should You Be Authentic With?
“We have to dare to be ourselves, however frightening or strange that self may prove to be.” – May Sarton
Authenticity is living honestly. You live and express your held beliefs. You are direct about your opinions, and you rarely hide your feelings.
Despite the inherent goodness in honesty and authenticity, both can be exploited. The more honest you are, the easier others can manipulate you. If people know what you value, what you care for, and who you love, then they know where to hit you. For example, if someone knows you value honesty, they can guilt you into answering questions you may not want to answer. Otherwise, if you lie or dodge the question, they can accuse you of failing to live up to your beliefs about honesty.
Manipulation grants people power. By tricking others, we can exploit them for what we want. Consider the scenario where a man manipulates a woman into sleeping with him. Or the abusive parent who guilts their child for attention and resources.
Therefore, living with a mask that covers our true feelings and beliefs seems the most prudent option. Often, it is.
However, you are not an island. You need to seek the friendship of virtuous people. The world is very boring but often very dangerous. Having a community is crucial to surviving our clown world. Thus, learning who you should be authentic with is essential.
1) People Curious About Mundane Things
Most people live lives of blankness. They have no curiosity. They have no interests. They do not think deeply about the world around them and what could be. They settle.
Such weak individuals only come alive when there’s gossip to be had. They are only curious about the dysfunction in the lives of others: the divorces, the affairs, the abuse, and so on.
They are not curious about why you want to be a writer. Or why you love a specific TV show. Such individuals do not ask engaging questions. They will wait for their turn to speak, but they will not acknowledge what you said or follow up on your thoughts.
To probe deeper is to show concern for the other person. And when you can make certain connections from seemingly pedestrian aspects of a person’s life, it shows you truly care.
I know a man who loves duck hunting. I don’t know anything about duck hunting, but I asked him constantly to describe his trips, what is involved, and why he loves doing it. I connected previous comments and gave details on articles and videos he wanted me to consume. I’ve since learned more about his family: his dad’s passing, his mother’s cancer diagnosis, and his struggle to find a spouse. Those are things I learned only months after first meeting him.
He can be authentic with me, and I can be authentic with him. I do not exploit his pain to get what I want. And the basis of this friendship started with me expressing genuine interest in something mundane that he loves to do.
2) People who are comfortable asking you for help
To ask for help is to be vulnerable. Firstly, you can ask for help, then be rejected. Secondly, asking for help makes you dependent on others. Both aspects of asking for help, especially for capable individuals, are not things we prefer or pursue.
Therefore, when people ask you for help or advice, this speaks of their high opinion of you. Such individuals, you can feel more comfortable being authentic with.
On the other end, you should ask for help as well. The more you are willing to be vulnerable, the easier it becomes to be authentic with the other person. Start with small favors, then work your way up. A recently met friend shouldn’t be watching your kids, for example. But they can advise you on what you wear or walk you to your car after work.
3) People who are on the same life path as you
Most people have incredibly abstract values. For example, they may oppose “systemic racism.” But very few individuals are willing to live amongst those “suffering” under systemic racism. Or, they may dislike a large corporation. But are unwilling to stop shopping at said corporation even when there are local, albeit more expensive, alternatives.
These weak individuals have no skin in the game. Thus, their beliefs are hollow.
Remember, the way you live will determine what you believe. Having kids, being in a relationship, what you eat, how you spend your time, and so forth will direct your value systems. No one decides on a value system, then acts accordingly. Usually, individuals act a certain way and then find a value system to justify their actions.
Therefore, you have to find people on the same path as you. Your single friends live differently from your married friends with kids. Being authentic with them is more straightforward if you are married and have kids. Why? Because they are struggling through the same life goals and challenges as you are. They have a shared experience, and such experiences help foster trust and friendship.
The Importance of Authentic Connections
Remember, you don’t have to be everyone’s friend or support each idea. You can reject that which makes you inauthentic. But once you find someone worth trusting, hold on to them. Good, honest people are a shrinking demographic.
Hopefully, the steps above will help you find good people to build a community with.
“The privilege of a lifetime is to become who you truly are.” – Carl Jung
- Who are people you can be authentic with? What are they like? How comfortable do you feel with or around them?
- In your life, who are the most honest and consistent individuals you know? How can you follow their path?
- Are you honest with yourself? In what ways do you lie to yourself?
- How do you lie to others? Do you feel justified in these lies? What can you do differently to prevent yourself from having to lie? For example, could you spend less time around people who tempt you into lying?
Further Actions and Readings
In a future post, I will cover active listening techniques and ways to foster open and honest communication. Additionally, I have covered the costs of inauthenticity in a previous post about the virtue of authenticity.
Please remember that it’s important to do the actionables. You’re not on this earth to simply read but to do. To become an individual, you must act more than you consume.
*Image credit to Unsplash.