Authentic Relating are a set of games and interaction exercises to teach you how to communicate clearly and create meaningful connections. This way you learn to express yourself authentically, de-escalate conflicts and transform relationships. Jason W Digges, the co-founder from Authentic Relating Training describes it as ‘the emotional education we should have had when we were 14 years old’
A set of deep blue eyes are gazing right at me. “You have 2 minutes to share about something that is challenging in your life right now. Go.” I feel my stomach twisting in a knot and my chest contracting. “Something that is challenging in my life right now is that I am never satisfied with the work I do and always feel the need to do more and better.” I ramble on for 2 minutes and a bell interrupts my sharing.
“Now your conversation partner is going to repeat and summarise what you said”. My blue-eyed partner starts talking: “I heard you saying that you do not feel good enough and that it is challenging for you that you are never happy with the work you do and that you always want to do more and better.” As my partner is mirroring my words, I realise I have been telling this story to myself for such a long time now and that I can’t believe that those words are still coming out of my mouth. I also feel that my partner is present and really listening to me.
The bell rings again. I get another minute to talk more about this challenge in my life. This time, my partner does not repeat my words, but shares the impact my words have on him: “when you share that you do not feel good enough, it gives me a sense of relief and connection with you, as I have been going through the exact same thing”. I can’t believe that this person can totally relate to my experience and it makes me feel less alone in my battle with low self-worth. It’s only been 6 minutes and I feel I got so much insight about myself in relation with my blue eyed partner.
The antidote for disconnection
This is one of the many authentic relating games you go through in game nights and workshops to learn to create deep connections with one another. I recently attended the Authentic Relating Training Level 1 workshop in London.
In my opinion, AR is the antidote to the disconnection, inauthenticity and fakeness we are experiencing nowadays. I never learned to communicate my feelings in a clear and respectful way and typically when I experienced intens or negative emotions, I’d shut down, contract and run away from the space. Other coping mechanisms may be fighting, yelling or ignoring. In the long run, it blocks you from connecting with people and creates conflict and pain.
Now I can stay calm while I feel emotions like shame and frustration because I am able to express them. I can resolve conflicts or misunderstandings in less than 20 minutes and not walk around pissed off for 3 days. I have more confidence and trust in myself and my experience. I am not afraid of my and other peoples’ emotions anymore. Most important: I hardly have boring conversations nowadays.
The 5 Principles of Authentic Relating
To practice authentic relating you embrace five principles.
The first one is ‘welcome everything’. A practitioner is invited to go into the full spectrum of human emotion including anger, frustration, sadness and shame. We do not resist or suppress any feeling.
The second principle is ‘assume nothing’. Biologically we are wired to categorise, label and judge for survival. This is how we knew what was safe to do and what could kill us. In relating with one another this can cause blockages and miscommunications. Stay open to hear the experience of the other person.
The third principle is ‘reveal your experience’. In authentic relating we do not only reveal our inner experience to our conversation partner, but also to ourselves. Authentic relating is an embodied practice, meaning we start from noticing our inner experience in our bodies and mind.
The fourth principle is ‘own your experience’. If you are experiencing shame, do not resist it and fully own it. Everything you are experiencing is a valid and you have the right to experience it. Putting the responsibility outside yourself for an emotion or feeling you are having is disempowering.
The fifth principle is ‘honour yourself and others’. It doesn’t mean you have to tolerate and accept everything. It’s about realising that your perspective is always true and no one has to agree with it. You always have access to your voice and it matters. Same counts for others perspectives: you can honour other peoples’ perspectives without agreeing with it. Stay open and humble: everyone has something to teach.
Join the movement and transform your relationships
The world is craving for connection and authenticity. I am deeply passionate about this subject and excited to start sharing this practice in Antwerpen. Only applying a handful of the skills and techniques from authentic relating can dramatically change your life and transform your relationships with friends, family, partners and colleagues.
The beautiful thing about this technique is that ANYONE can use and apply it. My teachers from ART have been doing the same workshops with people from not only the mindfulness and spiritual community but also with companies, schools and even with inmates from US prisons. Imagine a world where police officers, prisoners and everyone gets taught authentic relating. I already get goosebumps just thinking about how this could change the world.
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