A Blog About Compassion and Authenticity
We had a team day recently at The Wellbeing Collective – we each ran a session and had a meaningful and productive day together. At one point during the day, we got into a discussion about authenticity – how we show it; our attitude towards others; positive and negative experiences we have had. Here are some of the themes and thoughts that came up for us:
Many of us have been in situations where we have been made to feel uncomfortable, unintentionally or not. In situations like this, we often resort to keeping quiet and making ourselves as unnoticeable as possible. We have received a reaction from others that makes us feel excluded or out of sorts with ourselves so we try to make ourselves unseen for the rest of the event.
Some of us may try to adapt, based on the feedback we have been given, in order to still fit in as best we can. This could look like censoring what others showed dislike to, reciprocating their behaviour, agreeing with their opinions, making jokes that mirror their sense of humour, etc. It is rare for us to continue this behaviour beyond this situation because of how mentally tiring it is for us to reject our natural reactions and calculate what we deem “better” responses.
Negative experiences or comments we receive with regards to being authentically ourselves, most of the time, don’t change us internally. We still know what our natural thoughts and behaviours would be in social settings. However, they can leave us feeling awkward or hesitant to be who we are – these experiences don’t change our personality: they just change how much of it we choose to share.
On a more positive note, many of us have also been in situations where we have felt encouraged to show our authenticity. Again, this might have been unintentional, but it has a significant impact on us mentally. One of my colleagues described this as ‘a golden moment of feedback’.
We all agreed that you don’t have to have had a history of negative experiences for a positive one to boost your self-confidence considerably. We can feel self-doubt or even shame about aspects of ourselves that no one else has ever pointed out to us. Sometimes, we create stories in our heads or make assumptions about how others perceive us without much evidence. When we are in places like this, a supportive remark from someone else can be a standout moment for us. It can have a massive impact and be remembered years down the line.
Showing Others Support
We can offer anyone support – our relationship to them doesn’t matter. If you are close to that person (maybe a friend, colleague or family member), it is more likely for your intentions to be conscious. For example, you may already be aware that they are struggling to be themselves in certain environments, so you have a sit-down conversation with them where you give them some advice and talk through their fears with them.
As a stranger, you are unlikely to ever know the true impact you had on someone. Regardless of this, it is always worth showing others compassion, not passing judgement and making people feel welcome and comfortable in your company. It doesn’t really matter if you made them feel better for an hour, a day or if you had no impact on them at all – everyone benefits from kindness.
Kindness and support come in many different forms: it could look like asking questions and showing interest in someone’s hobbies; it could look like bringing someone into a conversation by introducing them to the group; it could look like giving a compliment.
Our team concluded our discussion by agreeing that it is definitely important to be aware of the impact we can have on others and to choose to use this positively.
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