Our ability to build and maintain healthy relationships is the single most important factor in how we get along in every area of life. All of life’s successes come from initiating relationships with the right people and then strengthening those relationships by being authentic.
It’s no surprise that people who tend to have few or no friends, are often also diagnosed with depression. Loneliness is detrimental to your mental, and eventually physical, wellbeing. We do not exist in life without relationships. No one is an island to themselves. You are always relating to someone or something. We all need relationships! Tom Hanks in the movie “Cast Away” was so desperate for relationship that he formed one with a ball and even named it Wilson.
Your relationships drive your life. You are the sum of your five closest friends. There’s a saying, “Birds of a feather flock together.” In other words, if I want to know what you’re like or who you really are I can look at the people you call friends. Like it or not, your friends are a direct reflection of you.
You can know a lot of people, but if the dynamic of the relationships aren’t adequate, they don’t bring any distinct value in your life. A good relationship is reflected by a strong and rewarding connection. It is my belief that the people with the most meaningful relationships tend to also be the happiest.
This connection can be casual, romantic, sexual, emotional, intellectual, and so on, depending on the nature of the relationship. But it must be there. When you feel that connection interacting with a person, you know it’s a relationship worth having.
The freedom to be authentic is one common quality that all people with fulfilling relationships have; the ability to engage others in a comfortable and genuine matter, without making excuses for who they are. With authenticity, you can easily interact with others, express yourself and simply unveil the relationships that are meant to be.
• Authentic people are not afraid to be who they are and show who they are. There is no pretense. There is no building themselves up to look better and no tearing themselves down to look worse. They are secure with who they are. They know their strengths and are in touch with their weakness. Simply stated, authentic people are just real.
• Authentic people are approachable. It doesn’t matter what position they hold or what activity they are engaged in, if you are with them you will be treated with respect and attention.
• Authentic people are interested in others. They have learned that having an authentic relationship holds the key to joy and happiness. It is not work or effort for them, it’s natural. Whether it is a life-long relationship or a quick encounter, they know it holds within it the core truth of our being, namely that we are all relative and because of human nature we are uniquely connected to each other.
• Authentic people put others at ease. We know when we are in the presence of an authentic person because we feel relaxed, at home. We feel heard, respected, important, interesting.
• Authentic people make us feel that way because that is how they see us. We see the promise of our own lives and our own possibilities through their authenticity.
• Authentic people know their place in the world and fulfill it with joy and attention. Sometimes it will be a position of power and influence. Other times it will be the most humble of occupations. It is not the occupation or position that distinguishes them, but rather their ability to know and be themselves, and to have deep meaningful relationships with others.
• Authentic people live day-by-day, moment-by-moment. They know well that life must be lived and experienced one situation at a time, so that’s what they do. They know that nothing is more important than this very moment. When we are in their presence we know it too, for we vibrate with their frequency.
Authenticity does not happen overnight. People are too filled with their own arrogance and selfishness, too attached to their own agendas, too busy with their own lives and too fixated on their own goals. Our concern, as individuals, is primarily with ourselves, but this can change. If authentic relationships are important to us we can practice being authentic. Then, as we become more authentic ourselves, we will discover the joy of deeper relationships and will want to become authentic in every area of our lives.
-Lesson by Cherese Jackson-
Cherese Jackson, co-founder of New Direction Coaching Associates, is a life and business coach who has traveled extensively as a developer of Non-Profit & For-Profit organizations. She is a speaker, author and member of the International Association of Professional Life Coaches, National Association of Professional Women, Great Black Speakers Bureau and Black Life Coaches Network.