Being Genuine: Stop Being Nice, Start Being Real by Thomas d’Ansembourg
Learn from each other and share your values.
We tend to tell their four truths more easily to others rather than simply expressing what is going on inside us. Expressing one’s truth with respect for others and oneself, here’s the stop being nice be true project. Do you often make the effort to make an inventory of the feelings that motivate your judgments? Are you able to identify the needs that are repressed and hidden behind your words? Do you make realistic and negotiable demands on others? Stop being nice and be true! offers to meet the other person without ceasing to be yourself.
1. Why are you cut off from yourself
We never learned the words that speak of our inner world. Since childhood, we have listened to others (parents, teachers then colleagues, boss, …). In order to survive and integrate, we thought we had to cut ourselves off from ourselves.
1.1 Mental space
Our mind has received all the care and most of our education at the expense of other aspects of our person.
Our intellectual understanding of things has been stimulated and encouraged, but the result is as follows:
- we judge others faster than our own shadow from a minimum of information,
- we function by habit, with automatisms of thought in a universe of concepts and ideas,
- we operate on a binary system: one thing is white or black, I’m wrong or I’m right..,
- we don’t take responsibility for how we feel: “I’m sad because you…”, “I’m like this because my mother…”, “I have no choice…”, …etc.
In this traditional functioning, we have cut ourselves off from our feelings and emotions. Out of modesty and reserve transmitted from generation to generation, we do not talk about ourselves and do not even know the vocabulary to talk about the issues of our inner life.
Yet feeling is a precious signal that tells us about an inner need.
Listening to one’s needs has long been synonymous with navel-gazing and egocentricity. Yet, can you listen to others when you have never listened to yourself? Certainly not!
1.4 The demand
When we succeed in formulating a concrete request, we stop waiting for the other to understand this need through the intervention of the Holy Spirit and to satisfy it.
Become aware of what you’re going through…
2.1 Exhausting yourself to do well
Many people exhaust themselves in caring for others and forgetting about themselves. The violence they inflict on themselves to “do well” means that one day they are no longer able to “do anything”. In order to develop awareness of what one is experiencing, the 4 stages to be considered are: observation, feeling, need and demand.
Observing facts in a neutral way without judging or interpreting is essential but not so easy.
You have to know how to dissociate the fact from the emotion it arouses and not make any assumptions that you would take for truth.
Use the “I” to express your feeling but express it without interpretation. For example, when you say “I feel sad, worried, angry, …” you are still responsible for what you are experiencing. When you say “I feel betrayed and manipulated”, you implicitly call the other person a traitor and manipulator, and you remain locked in a scenario of victim, complaint and conflict.
2.4 The Need
Assume that the other is not there to meet your needs (not even your spouse), even if he or she can contribute.
Likewise, you don’t have to spend your life meeting the needs of others (the same goes for your spouse).
Identifying one’s need (for rest, time, to enjoy one’s evening…) means choosing never to deny or disavow what is inside us. Not all our needs need to be satisfied, but all of them need to be at least recognized.
To satisfy your needs, formulate concrete, realistic, positive and negotiable requests. It is the negotiable nature of the request that creates the necessary space for the meeting.
3 – Become aware of what the other is going through.
3.1 Communicating is expressing and receiving a message
To communicate is to express oneself and to listen. We have to let go of the fear of revealing ourselves as well as the fear of hearing the other person in their suffering and difficulties. To enter into a non-violent communication is to switch to trust and remain present to the other person as well as to yourself.
Empathy (a.k.a. compassion) is the presence brought to what you are experiencing and what the other is experiencing. The 4 steps of the practice of empathy are as follows:
- listening without doing anything,
- Focus on the feelings and needs of the person you are talking to,
- Reflect the feelings and needs of the other person by rephrasing them,
- watch for signs of looseness and relaxation.
For people who are allergic to empathy, you can use silent compassion by remaining open and caring.
3.3 Take time
Take the time to communicate with each other. This can avoid wasting time later on in arguments and conflicts.
4 – The meeting
When we function on the mental plane, what happens most often is:
- to “miss each other”,
- to get right into the argument,
- or not daring to ride us as we are to avoid “verbal projectiles”.
But in order to walk on the path to the other, you can’t spare the path to yourself.
Strangely enough, the relationship to oneself is supposed to be self-reliant. But in reality this relationship needs maintenance, time and attention. And yet most of us are more concerned with day-to-day stewardship than with intimacy. Let’s create places to talk and not die fed, clothed, educated… but dry-hearted!
5 – The 2 keys to peace: meaning and emotional security
5.1 We have been educated to do, not to be
We are expected to meet the expectations of others in order to be loved. So we know how to please, how to be a good boy, a good father, a good colleague or a good husband, but we don’t know how to be just ourselves.
By believing that we are responsible for the feelings of others, we make ourselves feel guilty, but we are unable to listen to others.
Taking care of someone is not taking care of them. Caring means trusting in the person’s ability to get by with their own resources. This implies confidence in one’s own abilities.
5.2 To be loved as we are
Let’s stop trying to match others’ expectations and asking others to match our expectations. It’s better to love your son as he is than your “son project” (a brilliant being who will have to be an engineer), and to love your spouse more than your “common life project”.
But to do this, we must develop a feeling of inner security dissociated from our social roles as good mother, good wife, good daughter …
Let us stop feeling threatened by our differences and those of others. Let us stop being afraid of disapproval.
5.3 Let’s stop being nice, let’s be real!
Behind apparent kindness there is often fear of losing, fear of rejection and fear of criticism.
To build satisfying and lasting relationships, we cannot afford to ignore truth and authenticity.
5.4 How to say no
Obedience does not create responsible beings but automatons. Knowing how to say no is at the heart of 4 essential values: respect (for others and for oneself), autonomy, responsibility and strength.
Practise saying no in easy situations and then being able to say no in more difficult situations.
Saying no in a constructive and creative way also means saying yes to something else. And it also means developing the ability to hear the other person’s “no” without taking it personally.
5.5 Fear of conflict
Behind the fear of conflict lies a need for emotional security: “Am I still lovable if I disagree?”. But conflict is also a great opportunity for change.
5.6 How to deal with anger?
Expressing or hearing anger can seem difficult. Yet anger is a formidable warning signal on our inner dashboard, a sign that we need to put ourselves in the “intensive care” of our own listening. And burying your anger is really sitting on a minefield.
Then one day it farts, and it turns into assaulting someone.
Taking care of your anger then consists of:
1 – Shutting up rather than exploding. Because if we explode in the face of the other, the attacked person will not be able to hear us well.
2 – Accepting all our anger. Accepting the violence that is within us serves as an outlet: we must be able to look it in the face with its images and fantasies.
3 – Identify the unsatisfied need(s).
4– Identify the new feelings that may arise. Behind this anger, there may be the tiredness of a situation, and behind this tiredness a need for change.
5 – Saying our anger. Ideally, you can express it only when the tension is released.
To be able to listen to the anger of others, try to remain patient and practice empathy.
6 – Learn from each other and share your values.
6.1 – You have to, you have to, that’s how it is, I have no choice, I have no time.
This disempowering language anaesthetizes consciousness and turns you into a robot. Ask yourself what values your old “must” serve. Constraint is uncomfortable, but familiar. Challenging one’s sense of duty and habits, acting by choice and heart impulse can be frightening. Yet life is here in these enthusiasms.
On the other hand, look at what and to whom you devote your time and energy. These are excellent indicators of your priorities, your choices, and the needs you decide to meet. Unfortunately, many times the priority is given to stewardship rather than listening to family members.
6.2 – A sense of meaning in life
We need to know the meaning of our life, its direction and significance. If we do not take care of our need to feel fully alive, we risk fulfilling it in a destructive way.
6.3 – Punishments and sanctions
The old punishment/reward system does not create internal security and self-confidence. It does not work better for the education of children than it does in the corporate world. This system appeals to fear and guilt instead of enthusiasm and commitment. Of course, firmness is sometimes necessary. But can we not be strong without being aggressive?
- The book is 10 years old: avid readers of self-help books may have already read some of the concepts elsewhere.
- The ideas are presented in a somewhat confusing way.
- The book shines more on the substance than on the form: the style is very correct but not exceptional.
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