The Courage to Be Open: Overcoming DefensivenessOct 20, 2023
The Courage to Be Open: Overcoming Defensiveness in Personal and Professional Relationships
Committing deeply to knowing yourself opens up for new possibilities and insights. Why is knowing yourself and committing to self-discovery so important? I firmly believe that remaining unaware of our own experiences prevents us from forming meaningful connections with others. After all, how can we understand others if we don't first understand ourselves?
Judgement vs Non-Judgemental Attitude
Often, our automatic response is judgement - either towards something within ourselves or within others. To me, this indicates an unwillingness to see or accept aspects of myself or others.
When I adopt a non-judgmental mindset, I imagine you as a mirror reflecting back at me. Suddenly, I find myself being curious and open to new ideas. This free flow of ideas, absent of clinging to preconceptions or judgments, is the essence of curiosity.
I remember a time when I was just starting my practice. I was challenged to hold a three-day training session open to public enrollment. My initial response was a clear no. However, after giving it some thought, I warmed up to the idea and ultimately went through with it.
This hesitation to accept new ideas isn't unique to me; it's quite common. New ideas, especially from external sources, can activate our defense mechanisms if we're not prepared for change. In this case, I feared I wasn't adequately prepared and questioned whether I could attract enough participants. But overcoming these initial reservations ignited my curiosity.
The Power of Conscious Awareness
Being curious and non-judgmental towards both outside influences and our own reactions are key for deeper self-awareness. This awareness enables us to expand our consciousness continuously, recognize our previous limitations, and adopt new perspectives—elements crucial to personal development.
To experience this expansive state, we must maintain conscious neutrality and remain open to new experiences. It requires adopting an observer's mindset. It's essential to remember that everything we've experienced up until now has shaped and molded our beliefs.
Openness manifests in various forms. It involves receptivity to external influences as well as the ability to remain present—mentally, emotionally, and physically.
The Magic of Authentic Conversations
When we're honest and non-judgmental about our current experience and can share it openly, we start connecting on a deeper level. Some people fear this, and don't want this in work-relationships, but this is where magic can happen.
I was once working with a team that had an interpersonal challenging situation, when I sat down with them in a meeting and we did a roundtable check-in, nobody addressed the elephant in the room. When I did, it was like tension disappeared and we could start to talk about the issue. It changed the whole atmosphere in the room, and even if it was uncomfortable, it opened up for authentic conversation.
This level of openness is the foundation of trust. Trust is built when we engage in honest conversations with ourselves and others. When we stop hiding parts of ourselves. It requires courage and it is vulnerable to practice this level of openness. It might feel like a big responsibility, making us clarify our wants and needs.
Radical Self-Responsibility and Vulnerability
If you choose to Be Real in your interactions, embracing this level of openness means you're taking on radical self-responsibility. Brené Brown serves as a great example of a person who practices this, being vulnerable even when it challenges her.
Even if the idea seems easy to understand, the real question is: 'Where do I hold back and not show my true self?"
Cultivating openness and overcoming defensiveness are not just theoretical concepts but practical tools for enriching both personal and professional relationships. Your commitment to knowing yourself better not only serves you but also those around you. So, why not start today?
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