Authentic Conversation: Your Most Rewarding Adventure Awaits

Two Women Talking on the BeachI’ve had some adventures. I’ve gone scuba diving in the Red Sea. I’ve bungee jumped off the Bridge to Nowhere in the California desert. But you might be surprised to learn that the most exciting and rewarding adventures I’ve had were conversations.

These conversations were not your typical party chatter about TV shows or favorite restaurants. They were conversations in which my heart was pounding and my hands were shaking; the air crackled with the electricity of risk, truth, and possibility.

These three ingredients are the keys to adventurous conversations. Truth: revealing a truthful feeling or thought that you are experiencing. Risk: not knowing how the other person is going to react to hearing what you have to say. Possibility: the feeling that if you reveal this truth, something amazing could change in your relationship with this person.

Ideally, these conversations will bring greater intimacy and honesty into your relationships. The risk is that your honesty will receive the opposite reaction, pushing the person farther away from you.

If you feel that you don’t have enough adventure in your life, you may want to consider having thrilling conversations. If life feels stagnant, why not bring the excitement of authenticity into your relationships?

I’m not just encouraging adventurous conversations for the thrill of it; these types of conversations can provide the doorway through which you will emerge a more complete person. If you keep all of your thoughts and feelings locked inside you, you may be withholding your identity from both yourself and the world. If you don’t take risks, you may miss opportunities to experience a different life—and to become a different person in the process.

What romance would begin without someone risking rejection for the possibility of love? I remember my first bold move when I was young and awkward. I found myself in an impossibly romantic situation: sitting on a grassy hilltop overlooking Edinburgh, Scotland with an equally awkward young Englishman. But what to do? We were two young people who didn’t know how to make genuine contact.

But I took a leap. I told him about a movie. I know that doesn’t sound like much of a leap, but the train was in motion. The movie was the Albert Brooks comedy Defending Your Life. The main point of the movie, I told this young man, was that you shouldn’t live your life in fear. And with that, I kissed him … and my European romance began.

I’m quite proud of that moment. I had become a different person—a daring, active participant in my life. I had risked rejection and humiliation. It felt powerful and thrilling, so much better than the inertia of the past.

On that occasion, I was rewarded for my bravery when the young man reciprocated my feelings. But in instances where I failed to get the results I desired, I learned that if my mission was to improve my relationship with another person, if I was brave and daring and true to myself I always felt successful.

Another great example of how a truthful conversation can alter a person’s life and identity forever is the “coming out” conversation for many LGBTQ+ people. I had the honor of being a part of my sister’s coming out to our parents. This was a monumental moment in her life. It is a conversation that produces a great deal of anxiety as many fear and dread a loved one’s reaction to their truth. For too many, their fears are realized and they experience rejection. For others, like my sister, they discover freedom, love, and acceptance. Whether this conversation leads to acceptance or rejection, it is a watershed moment. It is a war story, a rite of passage, a pivotal moment in their lives. It is a conversation that unites them with a community of others who have been through a similar experience.

So this is my suggestion to you: Don’t waste too much of your life on idle chat. Through truth, risk, and possibility, you have the power to transform your relationships with friends, coworkers, employers, and family members. Have some adventurous, exhilarating conversations. Whatever the outcome, it will be worth it, because authenticity is its own reward.

© Copyright 2015 GoodTherapy.org. All rights reserved. Permission to publish granted by Rena Pollak, LMFT, CGP, therapist in Encino, California

The preceding article was solely written by the author named above. Any views and opinions expressed are not necessarily shared by GoodTherapy.org. Questions or concerns about the preceding article can be directed to the author or posted as a comment below.

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  • Tina

    Tina

    February 4th, 2015 at 10:56 AM

    It is hard to take that risk, no matter how much you don’t want to have that difficult conversation and really no matter how supportive you know your partner will ultimately be of you, it can still be a challenge to open up like that and feel safe about the outcome. Thankfully I have a wonderful spouse who has always supported me no matter what but it can still be hard to open up at times because you wonder what this other person will thin,k about you if you do.

  • dionne

    dionne

    February 4th, 2015 at 2:09 PM

    I have to admit that there are days when it feels like we simply engage in idle chatter just to avoid the silence. I hope that after reading this I can do more to stimulate more fulfilling and meaningful conversation for the both of us!

  • Chuck

    Chuck

    February 5th, 2015 at 11:38 AM

    If honesty drives them away then you have to know that this is not the right person for you anyway

  • Caron S.

    Caron S.

    February 6th, 2015 at 6:51 PM

    Wonderfully written! My partner and I had a risky conversation over dinner tonight. By staying with the uncomfortable feelings that were arising we were able to work through a problem. Those talks are the ones that bring people together. Thanks, Rena.

  • james q.

    james q.

    February 8th, 2015 at 4:25 AM

    It does help to initiate these conversations from time to time because it sure helps to keep things from getting too boring!

  • Rena Pollak

    Rena Pollak

    February 9th, 2015 at 8:40 AM

    Great comments! Yes, it might be easier to keep your thoughts and feelings hidden but it limits your ability to work through issues in your relationships and your sense of connection with the other person.

  • Genny

    Genny

    February 17th, 2015 at 9:02 AM

    It is worth initiating genuine conversation with your loved ones. In the past year, my partner and I actually set up meeting times with each other and discussed topics that were important to us and the result is that our intimacy in so many areas has grown! Now we are able to have these conversations spontaneously because we allowed it to be a part of our lives. I am looking forward to what the next year will bring in our relationship!

  • Edson P.

    Edson P.

    August 6th, 2015 at 6:17 AM

    A trivialidade é uma maneira de esconder situações particulares incômodas

  • Erran S.

    Erran S.

    July 9th, 2016 at 6:32 PM

    This is a very inspiring article, thank you for sharing it. I too often stay safe, letting fear hold me back. And I appreciate the part of me that works so hard to keep me ‘safe.’ But I need to comfort the scared part and be ‘a daring, active participant in my life’ as you said!

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