Authenticity Behind the Mask

Blog 20-04-07 photo

“Tell me what you want…what you really, really want.” The words of that 90’s Spice Girls song, Wannbe, ring through my ears as I listen to people skirt around what they really wish to say. Come on, spit it out! Okay, it’s not always easy…I know—and am sensitive to this—because I have a history of not speaking up or sometimes “packaging” my words carefully, thinking they’d otherwise be too blunt or reveal an aggravation I felt but preferred not to show.

The term “passive aggressive” is overused but useful to explore here. When we act passive-aggressively, we are being neither authentic nor congruent between what we feel inside and what shows up to others. Having difficult conversations takes courage, but we might not always feel courageous. There are lots of reasons…we are low on energy, we fear the ramifications, or we want to remain comfortable.

When I was a kid, our family would take far too long to decide where to eat lunch each Sunday. We often defaulted to our usual, Wyatt’s Cafeteria. It was not my favorite, but it was my brothers’ because they could eat 10 chocolate puddings each and then pile-up their empty dessert dishes like a Tower of Babel. I went along with this each week, not wanting to rock the seven-member family boat because once it got rocking, it took a while to steady. Besides, I was already annoyed at how long our decisions (or indecision) took.

I was a picky eater so ultimately, I learned that I had to speak up to get what I wanted. I argued that pizza was the perfect choice each week, with ingredients covering all the major food groups. Even though my family wasn’t always convinced, I learned that the more I spoke up, the happier I was voicing my true desires. It helped us make quicker decisions and eat at Brothers Pizza more often (which became everyone’s favorite).

While I wouldn’t label myself as passive-aggressive, my darling husband reminds me that I don’t always tell him what I want, what I really, really want. So, when it’s time to speak up, I muster the courage to do so. I find the benefits far outweigh the costs. With every step forward, my confidence builds, as does my integrity. I won’t always “win”, but I show I care about the outcome.

This Week: Think of one person or group with whom you aren’t consistently speaking your truth because it would take having a difficult conversation. Write down what you really, really want to say to them. Identify what would be possible if you told them this…more what, less what, different what? Prepare to tell them – you might practice with a family member or even in a mirror…notice if your mouth smirks a bit as you say it or if your eyes look worried as you speak. It’s your choice to tell them…and you’ll know when the time is right.

In Next Week’s Post: The gift of feedback.

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