Summary of “Being Genuine” by Thomas D’Ansembourg: People find it easier to tell other people what they really believe rather than express what they really feel within themselves. To be able to express one’s real truthful feelings in relation to others and oneself, this is the “don’t be nice be truthful” project. Do you bother to try to understand the feelings and reactions which lead you to make your judgments? Are you aware of the real truth that remains hidden behind the words that you actually express? Do you make realistic and flexible demands on others? Don’t be nice and start to be genuine! meet and deal with other people but remain true to your true self.
by Thomas D’Ansembourg, 2001, 249 pages
Note: This guest column was written by Monalisa from the blog “Happiness for Dummies“, in which she teaches us how to be happier in our lives.
Chronicle and summary of “Being Genuine” by Thomas D’Ansembourg
1 – Why you are cut off from yourself
We have never learned the words that speak of our inner world. Since childhood, we have listened to others (parents, teachers then colleagues, the boss, …). In order to survive and integrate, we believed that we had to cut ourselves off from ourselves.
1.1 Mental space
Our mind has received all the attention and the majority of our education at the expense of other dimensions of our personality.
The way in which our intellect understands things has been stimulated and encouraged, but the result is as follows:
- we judge others faster than ourselves, with a minimum of information,
- we function by habit, with automatic thoughts in a universe of concepts and ideas,
- we operate on a binary system: a thing is black or white, I’m wrong or I’m right…,
- we don’t take responsibility for what we feel: “I’m sad because you…”, “I’m like this because my mother…”, “I have no choice…”, …etc.
Through this traditional process, we have cut ourselves off from our feelings and emotions. Because of the modesty and reserve that previous generations have handed down and taught to us, we don’t talk about ourselves and don’t even possess a broad enough vocabulary to discuss what is at stake in our inner life.
And yet feelings are a valuable signal that inform us of an inner need.
Over the years, if you took notice and cared about your own needs, it was put down to self-indulgence and egotism. Yet, can you listen to others when you have never listened to yourself? Certainly not!
When we manage to express a definite need, we no longer wait for someone else to understand this need with help from the Holy Spirit, in order to fulfil it.
2 – Be aware of what you experience
2.1 Burn yourself out in order to do well
Many people burn themselves out whilst they look after others but they forget about themselves. The abuse they inflict on themselves in order to “do well” leads them into a state where, at a certain point, they are no longer able to “do anything”. To create greater self-awareness, the 4 states to bear in mind are: observation, feeling, need and demand.
To observe facts in a neutral way and not judge or interpret them is crucial but not easy to do.
You have to know how to separate the facts from the emotion it provokes and not make any assumptions that would be mistaken for the truth.
Use the “I” to convey your feeling but convey it without interpretation. For example, when you say “I feel sad, worried, angry, …” you take responsibility for what you experience. When you say “I feel betrayed and manipulated”, you implicitly call the other person a traitor and a manipulator, and you remain trapped in a scenario of victim, grief and conflict.
Start with the assumption that the other person is not there to satisfy your needs (not even your spouse), even if they can help.
In the same way, you don’t have to spend your life to provide for the needs of others (the same goes for your spouse).
To recognize your needs (for rest, time, to enjoy an evening…) means that you choose never to ignore or deny what is inside you. Not all your needs need to be satisfied, but, at the minimum, they all need to be recognized
To meet your needs, create specific, realistic, positive and negotiable requests. It is the negotiable aspects of the request that creates the required setting for the encounter.
3 – Be aware of what the other person experiences
3.1 Communication is how you convey and receive a message
Communication is to express yourself and to listen. You have to eradicate the fear to reveal yourself as well as the fear to listen to the suffering and difficulties of others. If you engage in non-violent communication it creates trust and enables you to stay connected with others as well as with yourself.
Empathy (also known as compassion) is the ability to understand the experience that you and the other person have. The 4 stages required in order to practice empathy are as follows:
- listen and do nothing,
- Focus on the feelings and needs of the person you talk to,
- Reaffirm the feelings and needs of the other person and rephrase them,
- watch for signs of relaxation and looseness.
For those who don’t appreciate empathy, you can employ a less obvious use of compassion, remain open and show care.
3.3 Take time
Take the time to communicate with each other. This can avoid time wasted on disputes and conflicts in the future.
4 – The meeting
When we operate on a mental level, what happens most often is:
- to “not connect”,
- to enter headlong into an argument,
- or not dare to express ourselves as we really are in order to avoid the “argumentative confrontations”.
But to be able connect with the other person, you need to be able to connect with yourself first.
Surprisingly, the relationship with oneself is assumed to be self-sufficient. But in reality, this relationship needs care, time and attention. And yet, for the most part, we are more concerned with daily administration than with personal attention. We should create places to talk and not just to die, eat, dress, be educated… but all of which we with a cold heart!
5 – The 2 keys to peace: meaning and emotional security
5.1 We have been educated to do, not to be
We are required to meet the expectations of others in order to be loved. So, we know how to please, how to be well behaved, a good father, a good colleague or a good husband, but we don’t know how to be ourselves.
When we believe that we are responsible for the feelings of others, we feel guilty, but we are unable to listen to others.
To take care of someone does not mean that you look after them. Care means to trust in the person’s ability to manage through their own resources. This implies confidence in one’s own abilities.
5.2 Loved for who we are
Don’t try to live up to the expectations of others and don’t ask others to live up to your expectations. It is better to love your son as he is rather than have him as your “son project” (a brilliant person who will have to become an engineer), and to love your spouse rather than have them be your “life project”.
But to achieve this, you need to develop a feeling of inner security, disassociated from your social roles as a good mother, a good wife, a good daughter…
Don’t be threatened by our differences and those of others. Learn not to worry about disapproval.
5.3 Don’t be nice, be real!
Behind apparent kindness often lies the fear to lose, the fear of rejection and the fear of criticism.
But to build relationships that are durable and meaningful, we cannot afford to ignore truth and authenticity.
5.4 How to say no
Obedience does not create people who are responsible but rather it creates robots. The ability to say no is at the heart of 4 essential values: respect (for others and for oneself), autonomy, responsibility and strength.
Practise how to say no in simple situations so that you can then say no in more difficult situations.
To say no in a constructive and creative way is also to say yes to something else. And it also means to develop the ability to hear the other person’s “no” and not take it to heart.
5.5 Fear of conflict
Beneath 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?
It may be awkward when you express or hear anger. But anger is a great warning signal from our control panel within, a sign that we need to put ourselves in “intensive care” and the need to listen to ourselves. If you bury your anger it’s if as if you leave a bomb inside yourself, it will go off.
Then one day it explodes, and it rips into someone who is next to you.
So, to take care of your anger you need:
- To keep quiet rather than explode. Because if you explode in someone else’s face, they won’t hear what you have to say.
- To accept the anger we feel. To accept the violence within us serves as an outlet: you have to confront it and be able to visualize the causes and the consequences.
- Identify the unfulfilled need(s).
- Identify new feelings that may arise. A cause of this anger may be that a certain situation has worn you down, and this needs a change.
- Express 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 show some empathy.
6 – Learn from each other and share your values
6.1 – It is necessary, you have to, that’s how it is, I don’t have a choice, I don’t have time.
This kind of irresponsible language numbs consciousness and turns you into a robot. Consider what benefits your old “must have” values provide. Constraint is inconvenient, but you are used to it. To question one’s sense of duty and habits, to act out of choice and impulse can overwhelm people. Yet, life still continues with these impulses.
Also, consider where and to whom you dedicate your time and energy. These are an excellent indicator of where your priorities lie, what you choose to do, and what needs you decide to meet. Unfortunately, often the priority is steered towards care for others rather than to listen to family members.
6.2 – A meaning to life
We need to know the meaning of our life, its direction and purpose. If we neglect our need to feel fully alive, there is a risk that what we do will be more destructive rather than constructive.
6.3 – Punishments and sanctions
Traditional punishment/reward systems do not create a sense of inner certainty and self-confidence. Neither is it more beneficial for a child’s education than it is in the corporate world. This system appeals to fear and guilt instead of enthusiasm and commitment. Firmness is sometimes necessary, of course. But can’t you be strong without the need to be aggressive?
7 – The procedure
Aim to be available for yourself judgment-free for 3 minutes 3 times a day. Then ask yourself this question: “Is there someone inside?”
Also be grateful and express appreciation that all your needs have been met. Gratitude is the vital ingredient of the relationship!
Epilogue: garden of peace
Violence is not the expression of our nature, but the expression of the frustration of our nature. It expresses our unrecognized or unfulfilled needs.
Conscious and non-violent communication is a way to resolve conflicts that enables us to deprogram ourselves from the old system of violence.
Because violence and non-communication is not a big problem, but rather 7 billion small problems!
There will be no peace in the world unless man makes a daily effort to nurture his inner peace. This peace will then radiate outwards, for peace is contagious!
Book critique of “Being Genuine”
The book Being Genuine is, in my opinion, a “must-read” for all those “too nice” people in the world who have lost touch with their emotions. As I have already worked my way through many of the principles explained in Being Genuine, I can verify that it will certainly be of help to re-address the reader’s equilibrium, within a culture that encourages people to cut themselves off from their own selves. It will certainly touch those readers for whom this is the first personal development book and will also be an invaluable guide for others.
By the time you have finished the book, you will feel the elation to be more connected to others and to yourself, and the satisfaction of a more open attitude. A program that appeals to me because I find myself on my favorite subject of my blog Happiness for Dummies.
- Being Genuine is full of practical examples and individual accounts that illustrate and support Thomas D’Ansembourg’s statements.
- Instruction is very pragmatic, clear and accessible to all.
- It is a gold mine full of good advice to be read, reread… and, most of all, to be applied!
- Being Genuine is 10 years old: regular readers of personal development books may have already read some of the same concepts elsewhere.
- Some of the ideas are presented in a way that can cause some confusion.
- The book Being Genuine excels more in substance than in form: the style is good but not exceptional.
My rating :
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