I think we have all experienced at some point holding ourselves back in relationship with others. It can look like playing small, holding yourself back from saying something, from opening up, from allowing others to see you. If you are doing or not doing these things so as to avoid rejection or feel it leaves you too vulnerable, then really rejection has already happened. This is two fold. Usually we have already experienced some kind of rejection or emotional hurt in the past, we were rejected or ridiculed and it feels unsafe to open up NOW, lest this happen again. However, in the present relationships, what kind of friendships or relationships do we have if we feel we have to hold back, change ourselves or hide? Are they truly the friendships or relationships we want to be in? If we had children who found themselves in such relationships, would we want this for them or would we want more for them, to really experience the greatest relational depth possible that they could. Because that’s love. The freedom to really be ourselves, have our own opinions and just be as we are. As Mark Nepo points out, we are truly loved when we are encouraged to grow, when we are not asked to remain the same. Because that is conditional, I will love you as long as you remain the same so as to keep me feeling secure, unthreatened and I can predict your behaviour. Of course, this freedom is necessarily bidirectional in relationship. It takes a willingness to take what feels like a risk. Of course when we are more authentically ourselves, conflict WILL arise from time to time, because we cannot agree with every single person we meet (not if we are being authentic) and we are all different. But wisdom and maturity will help guide interactions- when is remaining silent actually the wisest option for you?
How can you deepen your authenticity? With whom are you less yourself, which circumstances do you hide? If you are shy in a group, what is the critical number of people after which you become uncomfortable? What were the consequences of being yourself when you were younger?