The potential bind of situational authenticity – A follow-up comment.

In my last post, I addressed the idea of emotional authenticity and noted the diference between situational authenticity in which you true to what is going on and you express the emotion you are experiencing and emotional authenticity in which you are true to the emotion you are experiencing but you choose not to directly express that emotion because of display rules which would elicit unwanted  consequences should you  outwardly display the emotion you are experiencing in your situation.

Situational authenticity

The potential bind is this…

  • You view yourself as an honest person.
  • You validate and honor your emotions.
  • Your default position is to directly state and act upon the message of the emotion you are experiencing.
  • You realize that expressing your emotion directly would put you at risk of experiencing negative consequences you would rather avoid.
  • Do you express your emotions, take the risk and pride yourself on being honest and later berate yourself for taking such a risk?
  • Do you choose to hold the emotion in and berate yourself for being weak or gutless?

There are at least two major problems with this scenario.

First of all, it is, for you, a lose-lose proposition because no matter what you do, you end up feeling inadequate or having gotten “the short end of the stick”.

Secondly, as set up, the choices are a false dichotomy  in that while it appears to be a binary decision in which there are only two choices, there is a third choice which allows you to be honest and authentic and avoid unwanted negative consequences.

Emotional Authenticity

Your third option involves  being true to your emotion.

When your focus is on experiencing and validating the emotion, you are being honest, authentic and true to your emotions.

In addition, you are being aware of your situation and the display rules which exist in that situation.

Your plan of action involves using the energy of the emotion as motivation to seek out and plan your actions around dealing with the threat in such a way that you eliminate or minimize the threat using indirect, possibly more passive (as opposed to assertive), means.

By taking a more indirect approach, you avoid being marginalized, demeaned or attacked while taking pride in the knowledge that you are dealing with the problem your emotions have alerted you to and prepared you to take action to resolve.

Hence, you are honoring the emotion AND staying safe.

The above discussion applies to emotionally intelligent women who view the message of and the emotion of  anger  as valid and men who view the messages of anxiety and vulnerability and the accompanying emotions as valid.  The approach these individuals take to their emotions basically states that their emotions are always valid but the message of the emotion needs to be assessed and the choice of one’s resp0nse will vary with and be sensitive to the context in which the emotion is experienced.