Relationships can be the most complicated and painful part of your life. The paradox is that they can also be the most rewarding and also a great blessing. My parents were married 60 years before my dad passed away, and I don’t remember them having one fight. They were a great couple. My dad used to joke that they didn’t need a dishwasher because he was a ‘built-in’! He always treated my mom like a queen, honoring her at every opportunity.
There are many different kinds of relationships, but certain principles help in all of them. Being AUTHENTIC is an important one.
Talking with a client the other day, helping her navigate through a relational issue, I made this statement. “The key in every relationship is to BE YOURSELF. If you can’t, then ask yourself why not.” If I can’t be myself with people I am in relationship with, then there is something wrong either in my heart or theirs, and I can only change my own.
In thinking about all this and asking those questions, I realized how much of our lives we spend trying to make people like us. Insecurity and the desire to be accepted make us do all kinds of crazy things that just don’t represent who we are. If someone doesn’t like me “for me”, then is he really a friend? If people get to know the “fake me”, do they love me or the person I pretend to be?
Imagine for moment if we actually invested the same amount of time working on being authentic in our relationships – strengthening them, investing in them and enjoying them – as we do battling through the tough times but sticking together.
If you did an inventory of your relationships and had to separate the real from the fake, how many friends would you have left? Personally I would rather have one or two real, authentic relationships then a hundred shallow, fake ones. I would rather be unpopular and loved by a few than to be popular with many at the cost of authenticity. Those are the friends who accept you for who you are and stick with you through everything.
So how can you tell if people are authentic?
1. They aren’t in a hurry.
It takes time to know someone’s heart, so don’t be in a hurry. An authentic person will take the time to get to know you. My best friends are those who have taken the time to know and understand my heart.
2. They are transparent.
If they can’t be transparent about themselves, then they won’t care what is going on in you. They know their own weaknesses, are honest about them, and they don’t try to hide from you. The word intimacy could be spelled ‘into-me-you-see’.
3. They listen well.
Authentic people genuinely care about what you have to say. They practice active listening to ensure they understand your heart more than the information you share.
4. They ‘stay in the storm’.
When trouble comes through misunderstandings, they seek to make things right. They can say, “Sorry,” and take responsibility for their part. If it is always your fault, then it’s not an authentic relationship.
5. They speak well of others.
Authentic people have the ability to see the best in people and speak well of them. When they do have a problem, they will speak to the person with whom they have the issue, and not with others. When someone talks negatively to you about another person, chances are they talk to others about you too.
Hope this helps you look at your relationships and invest most of your time with the authentic ones! Remember, by being authentic you will attract authentic.
Comment below and let us know how you discover authenticity.