Savannah Hanson: Getting real |

Savannah Hanson: Getting real

One of the deepest hungers we have as humans is to know and be known.

To have another be able to see deep into the recesses of our heart and yet reflect to us only innocence profoundly deepens intimacy and connection. Yet too often we hide our uncertainties, doubts, fears, insecurities, frustrations and resentments. These can create pockets of separation within our self and in our relationships. To share these openly without blaming ourselves or another surprisingly creates deeper intimacy.

One of the ways we may subconsciously betray ourselves is through inauthenticity. People pleasing is an issue that comes up frequently with clients, particularly women. In the past the feminine was associated with self renunciation and the ideal of the perfect mother was often seen as one who would sacrifice herself for her children or partner. Not only is this poor role modeling, it leads to resentment and the possibility of depression or anxiety surfacing.

Notoriously, young women of my generation used to be willing to abandon their own needs and preferences to satisfy their families, trained to put the desideratum of others (look it up, my new word for the day) as the priority. Young people today are perhaps not under such pressure to sacrifice. Yet many, if not most of us, are dishonest in subtle to overt ways. I do not mean we lie or cheat, I mean we say yes when we mean no, agree to go when we want to stay, laugh at our boss’s off color remark to keep the peace.

These seemingly small acts of self betrayal may appear to be a little price to pay to not stir up conflict. Yet it turns out these seemingly insignificant acts cost us our own self esteem, integrity and damage our relationships through eroding trust and intimacy. It was not until my mentor, Nouk Sanchez, told me I needed to get even more radically self-honest and emotionally transparent that my direct experience has led me to see the hidden cost of what are considered to be social niceties. I am not suggesting we ever attack another in the name of honesty. This is about being honest about what hurts us, how we really feel, what scares us. We are all hungry for true connection yet appear not to know how to create it or fear exposing ourselves and being hurt.

When we are willing to share with great vulnerability what our internal experience is, never with attack or blame, a door to our hearts opens and allows the parts we have hidden in the dungeons of our being to come into the light. We discover to our surprise our own inherent innocence and we recognize the guiltlessness of our fellow human beings. The mask behind which we have hidden all our lives begins to drop away and is replaced with a subtle joy, a quick smile, a deep feeling of being truly known. To have another witness us with all our foibles and inadequacies and still only see us as completely innocent restores our own vision of ourselves as truly children of God, Divine, blameless. Ironically, when we stop accusing and attacking each other, the other person’s behavior begins to shift. Bathing in our eyes that see only innocence, others begin to extend kindness, cooperation, generosity and the downward spiral of conflict in our homes and communities turns and becomes a spiral of harmony and support.

We want to see it before we believe it yet it is only when we believe and act upon our willingness to be radically honest about our feelings (not about the flaws and errors we perceive in another) that we open a passage to the heart that may be rusty from disuse. It takes great courage to share the subtle hurts we have withheld for so long, to honestly share how another’s behavior has impacted us, without blame! It is indeed the art of loving to take responsibility for how we feel, share it yet not see the other as a perpetrator, just another member of the walking wounded.

This practice of honesty has radically changed my life. A client yesterday shared with me how being honest has created a huge shift in her relationship with her brother and friends. Now she embraces the practice wholeheartedly. The closeness and harmony, the joy of seeing our loved ones as guiltless even when they are triggered by old wounds, is a joy that cannot be named.

Perhaps you will take my word for it and be willing to experiment. I committed to cleaning up all emotional blocks I had with friends and loved ones and it initially took extreme courage yet the results of increased connection and intimacy in all but one case has kept me highly motivated. Care to join us and see what unfolds?

For information on private sessions or classes or to schedule a free 20-minute consultation, contact Savannah Hanson, M.A., MFT at 530-575-5052 or

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