In an effort to relieve me of my ongoing push and pull of guilt, someone once said to me I was not responsible for other people’s experiences. I wasn’t? This was a new idea. Intellectually I agreed, but my actions indicated otherwise. I must call so-and-so to check in. I must think through every word not to offend. I must remember to buy a congratulatory card. Remember, observe, and adjust to respond accordingly. However, there is a line at which we begin to respond to the people in our lives more than we respond from a place of authenticity – a habit that is often rewarded at our places of work. We offer validation and contort ourselves to fit, fearing that nothing short of our astute observation and corresponding intentional responses will enable us to continue in the game.

We are all actors at work. We conceal our negative emotions, we conceal that sometimes our main motive is a paycheck, and we conceal our thoughts – our belief that the “purpose” of our organization is inconsequential. Acting is tiring, but what is our alternative? Seldom do corporate cultures encourage honesty as a method to problem solve and many of us, regardless of the words we share with those obligated to listen when we come home, would not say at work what we really think anyway. Though each day we step into the impromptu theatre we call work, we must consciously monitor not only our lines but the degree to which they are written in response to other actors versus from a place of authenticity so that we don’t lose the ability to tell the difference.

Should we lose the ability to tell the difference, the two may become one and we will get further away from the self that defines who we are.