“The free soul is rare, but you know it when you see it — basically because you feel good, very good, when you are near or with them.” ― Charles Bukowski, Tales of Ordinary Madness
How do you know when you are in the company of an open heart and open mind? You know it because these individuals exude an air of confidence and a comfort level we all strive for. They carry themselves with ease, seemingly unfettered by any outside influences. They move with confidence.
What do these people know that perhaps some of us wish we did? How would it feel for you to stroll into your next meeting or networking event feeling and knowing this same level of ease—knowing that you aren’t faking it til you make it, but that you’re open for the next conversation, adventure, opportunity?
We speak often of authenticity in terms of listening to our true voice, speaking up, and living our truth. It’s my belief that when we find ourselves on this path in our life journey, we open wide, we awaken. Once awake, we are freer to new experiences, new relationships, and fresh opportunities.
I spent most of my childhood and many adult years revealing only portions of me, in fear of not being liked or accepted. I shared different parts of myself to different people and a rare few who knew all of me, mostly family and maybe one ex-husband, ha!
I think societal influences are partially responsible for these fears and notions, instilling the idea that we need to be cute, funny, thin, extroverted, and smart just to be liked or popular. As a young girl, this pressure felt enormous, often overwhelming. Today, I see an even greater level of anxiety in young people. I’ve coached more than one or two teens on just this.
Our personality type can play a key role here too, and yes, we can work with this. There are no true barriers to being open and stepping into this world ready to receive. I’ve spent my life as an introvert, and interestingly enough, I hid this fact from myself and everyone else. I felt ashamed.
Life as an introvert is now a wonderful and nourishing experience. Sometimes we are misunderstood and often have to explain why we are leaving the party early. Learning to be open to others and to experiences can be more challenging until we accept the idea that it’s worth the risk.
Once we hold our true and authentic being in the highest regard, we open ourselves up to new opportunities and move more freely through life.
Today there’s a lot of talk about comfort zones and about getting comfortably uncomfortable. For many people, choosing to open yourself up, to lean in toward new people and opportunities, may represent a ‘not so comfortable’ place. What is worse is being afraid and staying stuck where we are. Is this comfortable? It’s not.
Ask yourself: What do I stand to lose by staying safe. Maybe even create a journal entry or a list of these things.
Now ask yourself what you stand to gain by stepping out of those safe lines, by creating a freer and more rewarding life for yourself. How will you benefit from more openness and transparency in your work?
Whether you work in a corporate or group environment, in a smaller partnership, or at home for yourself, imagine the trust and relationships gained by giving yourself the choice of a more open and authentic lifestyle.
Judith Glaser’s Conversational Intelligence work has proven in many instances that bringing more trust and better relationships improves productivity, increasing the bottom line in many cases.
In one of her articles, Connection vs. Rejection, she speaks to our need to be social from time to time:
“In our “selfie” society that is more and more isolated and individualized, we need to connect socially and professionally in healthy ways to maintain our sanity and productivity.
“And from personal experience, I attest: We innovate and create better when we are connected synergistically, not as individuals in isolation. This state of connectivity is designed into our human epigenetics to elevate our genetic code to maximum security, engagement, fulfillment and productivity.”
In many cases, we have learned through many studies and examples that we stand to increase our level of contentment and success in personal mastery by learning to become open and authentic and to honor our true self.