05 Nov Marcie’s Mindfulness Moment | The Value of Authenticity in Relationships
I recently had a conversation with my best friend of 25 years. For a quarter of a century, we’ve seen each other through celebrations and mournings and have a comfortableness that comes with time and a concerted effort to maintain our friendship. She was having an issue with another friend that she wanted to address. Normally one who doesn’t shy away from conflict or confrontation, I was taken aback when she was hesitant to initiate a conversation about her feelings. After some probing and dialogue, we realized that her resistance stemmed from wanting to be in full control of her emotions. She said, “I just don’t want to cry when I’m discussing this.” Translation: I am afraid to feel vulnerable. I asked what her intention was in wanting to have this conversation, and she was hoping to re-establish their connection. As soon as we were clear on her intended outcome, it was easy to see that her two needs were conflicting. On one hand she wanted to maintain control of her feelings and on the other she wanted to connect. I’ve been thinking about her perspective for days and it’s prompted me to delve into authenticity’s role in our relationships.
Is it possible to have connection if we aren’t authentic and vulnerable? Maybe on a surface level, but true and deep connection can only happen if we are our true selves and arrive with all our feelings and the baggage we carry of our life’s experiences. The interesting thing that happens when we show up and are fully present is that we touch something in the other that allows them to drop down into their true and authentic selves. They can get a glimpse into our heart, see that we truly care, that we are really invested and offer up the same for us. Has there ever been a time that a friend has opened up their heart and you simultaneously closed yours? Only in vulnerability can we knock down the walls of protection we put up to save our hearts from pain of many varieties and reach true connection.
When my dearest friend began to explore the nature of her need to be in control of her emotions all the while establishing connection, she started to understand that both needs could not be met simultaneously. She began to get “unstuck”. There was a whole story that she was telling herself about not letting people see you cry that we unraveled and worked with in depth. The process wasn’t quick OR easy. In the end, she was able to take a hard look at the quality of her connections and the role that her story has played in preventing her from being her whole self. This experience has helped me to evaluate and understand why my deeply connected relationships are that way- because both parties bring their whole selves to the table, tears and all.
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