Do you feel like you are wearing a mask? In today’s episode, the hosts of Relationship Helpers, therapists Vincent and Laura Ketchie discuss peeling off the mask to reveal the genuine you.
Before a child reaches the age of two, you see a person who is the least likely to lie. Of course as the toddler years emerge, lying starts. But prior to this stage in human development, what you see is what you get.
At some point, however, we begin to lie. Usually it starts with little “white lies” to get what we want. Disingenuous behavior eventually gets us in trouble as children, as later it does adults. It creates conflict in our relationships because of a lack of honesty or forthrightness. When we are not genuine in our relationships, we end up in constant struggle.
How to Become More Genuine
1.) People can’t mind-read you
If you are not assertive (direct, clear) with others, it becomes a guessing game. It’s a timeless experience, a couple wants to order takeout, but they play the “I don’t know what I want…” game.
The other spouse makes a suggestion and the one spouse says, “Well, I don’t want that.” And round and round the conversation goes, taking up time and leaving them both hungry. It’s like a dance; dancing around the point: getting the food.
This behavior leaves the spouse who asked the question frustrated. It sets a bad tone.
If you want to improve the health of your relationship, it’s important to remember not to frustrate your loved one by being passive and indirect. Expecting someone to read your mind is detrimental to your relationship.
2.) Be honest with yourself
Not only do we need to be honest with others, we need to be honest with ourselves. We need to have an awareness of our strengths and weaknesses. If you recognize that you are passive, be proactive about changing that behavior.
Remember that your passivity will frustrate your loved ones unless you do something about it. This means seeking out opportunities to step outside of your comfort zone.
When you take the risk of putting yourself in opportunities where you could fail, you grow. Some people may look back on their lackluster sports attempts and feel negatively. Rather than choosing to focus on how poorly you performed, consider other takeaways.
For instance, if you have two left feet, you may consider how you were as a team mate. Look at the strengths you had. Maybe you would have been a better strategist, coach, cheerleader or supporter?
In Proverbs we are told that it is wise to accept correction—that a fool hates correction. Study the correction you have received. Look at how you have received the correction. You may need to take an honest look at how you perceive yourself.
3.) Don’t be aggressive
Don’t confuse being genuine with “telling people like it is.” Aggressive people often think that they are genuine. Although they are speaking “their truth” they are bulldozing the relationship. It’s not helpful.
Being genuine means you have an awareness of others being equals—seeing each person on an equal playing field. You are valuing their needs and wants but at the same time you are able to express your needs and wants.
4.) When people ask you about yourself, you tell them.
This also means that when someone asks you “how are you?” you are able to say something other than “fine.” Fine many times is a blanket statement. Think of the word fine this way—Feelings Inside Not Expressed.
Next time someone asks, try being honest. You don’t have to dump on them, but you can be honest. If life has been difficult, say things haven’t been easy lately.
5.) Be honest & direct in a calm, relaxed manner – Speak the Truth in Love
We’ve just talked about when things aren’t okay and how we tend to not let people know that. On the other hand, sometimes we don’t let people know it when things are going well.
Is there some sort of excitement you’re not sharing with others? If so, you could lift someone’s mood. Not sharing your good news may be robbing others of an opportunity to be happy (and happy for you.)
One of the biggest obstacles to being genuine is a fear of conflict. Some people are passive and generally are people-pleasers. Yet others are aggressive, and believe that they are telling their truth when in fact that are doing it in unhelpful manner.
The Bible asserts that we should “speak the truth in love,” meaning that we do not avoid being truthful (passive), BUT that when we do confront someone that we do it with love (assertive).
Assertiveness Versus Aggressiveness
Please do not confuse assertive with aggressive. Assertiveness is done with regard to everyone having value. Aggressiveness says, “I’m going to speak my truth how ever I can and no matter how it hurts others.” Speaking truth without love is judgmental.
An example would be a husband and wife are riding home. The husband is driving but his driving makes his wife nervous. She could say, “Are you trying to get us killed?!?” Which would be aggressive and probably create a fight.
OR she could say, “I appreciate that you’re driving tonight. Could you slow down some? It’s making me nervous. I appreciate that you’re driving, you do have better night vision.” In the second example, compliments are being used to soften the criticism.
What the Bible Says…
In Ephesians 4: 22-24 Paul says, “You were taught, with regard to your former way of life, to put off your old self, which is being corrupted by its deceitful desires; to be made new in the attitude of your minds; and to put on the new self, created to be like God in true righteousness and holiness.”
Here we have Paul telling us to be the people God created us to be, our genuine selves! He wants to be who He made us to be and for our character and actions to match this persona.
A person who does this appears consistent. They are a person of their word. When they tell you their opinion or talk about their feelings, you know they are being truthful because they have a history of being consistent.
Paul tells us in Ephesians 4: 25, “Therefore each of you must put off falsehood and speak truthfully to his neighbor, for we are all members of one body.” A genuine person promotes the unity of the body of Christ.
This means that they are able to create calmness and peace amongst others with their assertiveness. They are good, healthy communicators who visibly acknowledge the value of others.
We hope that you feel encouraged to be a more genuine person. When more people do, there is less conflict and misunderstandings.
Be sure to checkout our other episodes in this series “A Better New Year’s Resolution”, where we describe more ways to help you to build character!