I don't know of a word that's the simple mirror of "self-reflection", but I mean perceptions of me by others, as shared by them - which I was privileged to hear today, as well as last month, both in an Authentic Relating context.

To start with self-diagnosed background, I believe that in this context I am consistently relaxed and engaged as a baseline. I'm there to learn, to play, and because it's stimulating to explore and be challenged. My self-awareness in these spaces the last few months has been aimed at being authentic with my face/expressions, avoiding putting on a mask of "fake smile" or anything performative, and being more free of the potential judgments of others (still being conscious of leaving plenty of space for others).

Now, what have I heard? These come from folks trying to be honest within an exercise framework of "talk as if they weren't there" or "ask anything you feel curious about", mostly working off of some minutes-worth of interaction (within some hours of recurring Zoom calls).

  • hard to read
  • "too" calm/placid/passive seeming
  • speaking rather slowly
  • non-judgmental
  • unprovoked, lack of "charge"

Last month, someone was kind enough to share their substantial distrust reaction - that they felt that they couldn't trust my demeanor, that I seemed unnaturally calm and they had a story of something (judgement or fear) being hidden by me. Today it seemed more like puzzlement, with some curiosity about where/what kind of passions I might have.

More background: I have long been fairly communicative non-verbally. I'd be giving backchannel feedback with my face regularly in meetings, and people who worked with me would sometimes incorporate that. But that was all deliberate, however. I became socially aware and quite scared of being noticed/judged/persecuted going into middle school, learned to hide/filter myself, and then spent years constructing an outgoing/unafraid facade (recounted in more detail here). In later years, my confidence and freedom had grown a lot and I pursued being more authentic, but it still felt a bit like doing a puppet show - like, running my feelings through my filter first, and then letting them through.

This space (writing a journal here) certainly plays into my analytical and intellectual tendencies, yet it's another angle on that same edge for me. I'm trying to give up the filters and fears that have regulated a lot of my expression. I'm seeking to reach what I've now identified as "non-doing" regarding expressing myself:

I think that some of the perceptions of me above have resulted from me "not-doing" in an effort to try to set down the masks. I've been canceling out old patterns by trying to not do them, but the trying still leaves me in conscious control trying to "do" the authentic thing. (My recent training call w/ @m_ashcroft helped me to solidify this and put some good language to it - which is important! It was hard to grasp this before getting the words and labels hooked up to concepts.) It really needs to just flow from the unconscious parts of my brain - so it needs the letting-go of the conscious brain, to find the way of "non-doing":

I want to welcome out some parts of me that have lived behind the filter slot - regardless of whether the filter is thick or nearly-transparent. I have some ideas of what's waiting to be more free: more exuberance, more passion, more play. But maybe more anger too, bundled with the deep caring? Mmm, there's still some emotional charge for me in thinking about welcoming the feeling of anger. I've had to de-fuse from the experience of anger in my life - but that's at a different later stage of the pipeline! The later part is fixed (it's safe to feel anger, it doesn't take over), so heyo it is also safe to welcome everything and see what comes out.

Yaaaa! Nah that was fake. But I'm looking forward to playing (not trying) with holding an intention, increasing my awareness of spaciousness (counteracting the "don't think of pink elephants" problem), and letting the unconscious (deeper brain subsystems) flow through and start to integrate!