Life Lessons Relationships Warrior Training

The Power of Authenticity

goddess_of_war_by_toy1989820-d64duct I feel like I can finally breathe.

I have been training intensively in Non-Violent Communication (NVC) for 4 years now. One of the most powerful things that NVC teaches is authenticity. If you don’t know what authenticity is, you may not be able to understand what I am going to write about in this blog post, but it may give you a taste.

The power of authenticity is so profound, it is like nothing I have ever experienced in my life.

Many of us grow up in this culture learning to become the person that others want us to be. This is the opposite of authenticity and in the literature of psychology is often referred to a co-dependence. Our sense of self and identity, instead of being authentic, self-referential, grounded, centered, and integrated, becomes other-referential, off-centered, inauthentic, ungrounded, disintegrated or fragmented, and based primarily on projections.

Instead of owning ourselves – our light and shadow, or strengths and weaknesses — we end up projecting these qualities and traits outside of ourselves and onto others. Other people become idealized and put on a pedestal, or demonized, depending on whether we are projecting our light or our shadow.

Through the training and practice of NVC over the past 4 years, I began to own myself and reclaim my authenticity. I learned how to observe without the interpretation, evaluation, and judgement of my stories (projections). I learned how to identify my feelings and needs. I developed a vocabulary of feelings and needs so that I could identify them within myself and express them to others. And I learned how to make requests of myself and others so that my needs would have a better chance of getting met.

Over time, I began to see how my stories, my beliefs, my projections shape my reality and become self-fulfilling prophecies. I saw how, instead of communicating my “reality” in an authentic way, I would do the exact opposite. I would reflect back the “reality” I thought others wanted to see in me, but it was only partly to be “pleasing.” Really it was a way of manipulating others in the subconscious hope that by being what they wanted me to be, by being “pleasing,” I would ultimately be able to get my needs met.

Manipulation and passive-aggression are two sides of the same coin.

Subjugating one’s authenticity (the truth about what one thinks, believes, feels, needs, and values) in order to please others is a form of manipulation. It may appear to be working when others like what they see and respond to it, but in the end 95% of the time only their needs are being met by pleasing them. Unfortunately our own truth and our own needs are still getting subjugated, repressed, and ignored.

So we end up feeling anger, frustration, and resentment. Over time these feelings build up pressure until we explode — either violently or in a passive-aggressive way. Passive-aggression in many ways is actually more violent than the obvious expressions of violence because it can’t be seen. It’s a violence that hides itself, and when you can’t see it, you can’t meet it. So it clobbers you in a way that feels completely obliterating. You didn’t see it coming and you have this feeling like you don’t know what just happened.

It’s more powerful than head-on aggression because it’s “invisible.” It comes out of nowhere, obliterates you, and then disappears again.

But even more enlightening, liberating, and empowering than the realization of how I have subjugated my authenticity behind the “pleasing” masks of manipulation and passive-aggression was the realization that it went even deeper than that.

For most of my life, only up until the past year, I have unconsciously been letting other people “obliterate” my reality. I have noticed that some people I interact with (starting with my mother and father) who each have a very strong sense of their own reality are able to dominate, crush, bulldoze, and obliterate my sense of reality, replacing it with their own.

In other words, I become their projections of me, even if it’s not really who I am.

It’s only been in the past year that I have begun to have glimpses of this truth. But each time it happened, the window through which awareness and the light of consciousness could shine grew larger… until this week when the illumination exploded so vividly in my mind it was like a nuclear bomb. It blew my mind.

For the past 4 years I have been relating to a specific person in my life as his projection of me.

I have been thinking and saying for a very long time, “He doesn’t SEE me.” And to him, I have said more times than I can remember, “You don’t SEE me.”

One morning this week we woke up and had a conversation in which everything converged in my consciousness, and I finally understood. It all became so clear to me.