“Love me the way I am. Do not enable me on things which can deteriorate my growth as a person but love me for who I am, for the things in me which are what make me unique. Love me with my rollercoaster of emotions, love me even though at times I am wild and tempestuous, chaotic at times, imperfect, opinionated, always luminous, sometimes woman, sometimes child. Do not wish me docile nor submissive….Do not wish me to be the type of person who does things to please others, or to have others praise me. Do not wish me silent or afraid of other’s opinion of myself. Do not idealize me or try to turn us into a love which only exists in pamphlets….. Do not hide our nuances or our troubles in an attempt to keep up with other’s version of happiness; do not wish us to be like them, pretending everyday is a Disney Movie. … Our follies, our struggles bring us closer and they are what make you and me unique. If you want me to be like them then better let me go, release me back to my world, to my currents, to my delicious freedom and solitude, to my roots, for I am wild and crazy, at times tempestuous but with a heart of gold, either take my hand and let me show you the magic which lies within us and around us or keep your path and let me keep mine…for a beautiful soul is not the one which pretends wounds are not there, but those who although damage are not broken, those who stand up every time life throws a punch and manage after all the struggles to still believe in the wonders of life. Beautiful isn’t perfect…is REAL, that is what I am. I invite you to be real with me, to look in and let me touch your core, for once I get in your heart you won’t ever be the same…”
Benjamin Franklin used to say that in life there are three things which are particularly hard: One was steel, the other diamonds, and the third hardest thing is to get to know oneself. The last is not easy; immersing in ourselves, in our insecurities, fears, concerns, virtues and obscurities requires patience as well as strength and courage. Few things are as valuable as getting to know ourselves, to conquer private spaces where our fears and demons may reside, to truly look at ourselves for who we are and where we need to improve. Nothing is as valuable as learning to take the masks we have put on over time and learn to maintain an authentic fidelity to ourselves. Doing this is the only way we will be able to stablish more satisfactory, REAL, intimate relationships. Only in this way we will give our values shape to a more integral and commensurate existence, where behaviours and thoughts are in coherency; a strict equilibrium.
Recently Doctor Yi Nan-Wang, a well known researcher on the psychology of personality; explain in his works how a good percentage of couples tend to dilute part of themselves in order to reach a more harmonious relationship with a loved one. This is done out of a desire to show a more docile attitude, by prioritizing the needs of the other while sometimes forgetting about our own needs.
Many of us out of fear not to be accepted tend to hide who we really are, such attitude will eventually be the cause for the deterioration of our relationships. One can not maintain the masks forever, thus Dr. Wang recommends to develop what he has named ” Balance Authenticity”. This concept is based on Erikson’s psychosocial theory where we are reminded that every mutually satisfactory relationship goes through a phase where one has already delimit identity.
Doctor Wang created a scale named “AIRS” (Authenticity in relationships scale), which aims to measure the levels of authenticity of the two members within a relationship. A key to social welfare within our population is precisely the practice of personal honesty; a practice where we don’t boycott ourselves or leave others to do it.
Here are the 9 points which make up AIRS and which we should all answer with a yes or no:
- I always hide my true thoughts out of fear of disapproval by others.
- I like to take care of others.
- I do not dare tell others the truth out of fear of hurting their feelings or what they will think of me.
- I am fully aware that I must commit to myself.
- I always find ways to reconcile my needs and those of others.
- I would never give up my true self no matter what anyone thinks or allow anyone to pretend to be someone they are not for me.
- I usually tell the truth without worrying about how others will react.
- I put myself first, the feelings of others are not important to me.
- I almost always offend people by speaking frankly.
The scale measures 3 dimensions. Items 1-3 represent distorted authenticity. In this scale people may think they are being nice and authentic when in reality they are not, they are feeding ego and a low self esteem. Items 4-6 represent balanced authenticity. In this scale people are able to express themselves freely and with respect. They don’t fear about fitting in. They take into account both their needs and those of others. Items 7-9 represent egocentric authenticity. In this scale people have an tendency to fall into selfishness and an absolute authoritarian attitude. They tend to only prioritize themselves without care about how they hurt others.
Maybe in the pasts you were docile, quiet, complacent; most of us tend to be this way growing up due to the expectations put on us and the great confusion of what politeness really entails. Of course behaving like that made us easier to get along and easier to control. We may have been good at adjusting to society where sometimes having a voice of your own can leave you feeling like an outcast. Having been treated this way may have left us with a certain fear or reluctance to show our authentic self. Our authentic self knows that showing our real “I”, having our own voice, be able to express exactly how we feel is essential to our integrity… yet despite this we tell ourselves various excuses to make the fact that we hide who we are okay. We may even delude ourselves as having integrity when in reality it is all a façade. In order to start building integrity it is require to show oneself exactly as one is, with all the good and bad. Having integrity isn’t about not having shortcomings or hiding them, and that is the point we as society need to drive home. We need to work on strength to stop fearing being rejected by anyone who doesn’t want to accept us for bein REAL. We need to stop fearing antagonizing others by simply being ourselves or hiding our opinions in order to be popular. If we don’t learn to show ourselves exactly as we are; good and bad; then our quest for authenticity and real integrity is already lost as we then become our emotional sniper. Buying into the delusion that what matters most is to fit in, makes us victims to our own child like ignorance. Ultimately hiding who we really are and how we really feel is the highest price you will ever pay in order to be accepted, when in reality the only person being accepted isn’t you but the image you have created. Showing ourselves exactly as we are, as we think and feel, is not an act of aggression quite the opposite. Being authentic delimits borders and generates more genuine, healthy and dignified relationships.
In conclusion, we need to learn to practice balanced authenticity where honesty is combined with respect, freedom with affiliation and self esteem with a couple’s own growth as human beings and partners. Balanced authenticity is really something to be practice in all areas of our lives, where there is no room or point to act docile, congenial, submissive, overly friendly, but bright, with character, UNIQUE and of course marvellous which we all are in our own way, if only we allow ourselves to shine by being exactly who we are!.
“One must know oneself. Even if this does not serve to discover the whole truth, at least it is a useful rule of life, and therefore there is nothing better”.