- On Waking Up — Awake as compared to Asleep
- The Attack of the WhyBut Monster
- Owning Your Life — Self-responsibility as compared to Blaming
- Into the Flow — Flexible as compared to blocked
- Dropping the Ego — Self-actualized as compared to self-absorbed
- Having Integrity — Truthful as compared to devious
Having Integrity — Truthful as compared to devious Learning the value of both honesty and truthfulness strengthens your relationships, and is foundational for living a life of integrity
Today is the last installment of the series I began last month. Also, below the article, a great question:
“Could you elaborate on the balance between protecting ones self from trusting too easily, yet at the same time staying wide open and vulnerable as Presence?”
- Honesty has to do with faithfully reporting what I believe to be true.
- Equivocation is stating matters in indirect and politically correct language, so as “not to make waves.”
- Truthfulness means the openness to reveal everything relevant about who I am.
- Deviousness is outright lying, half-truths, white lies, and “omissions.”
Honesty and truthfulness can also be differentiated as:
- Honesty conveys what I believe.
- Truthfulness conveys what I am actually doing.
Honesty and truthfulness are easy to understand, although somewhat more difficult to implement.
Equivocation and deviousness, on the other hand, may need a little unpacking:
Equivocation is “beating around the bush,” trying to say things so the other person won’t choose to upset himself, or only telling part of the story. It’s saying,
“Wow. You must really be hurting,” as opposed to “Boy are you ever living your life so as to really hurt yourself.” Or,
“I’m sure you’ll find someone who will love you,” as opposed to “You’ve had all these women in your life, and it hasn’t worked out. Have a look at the common denominator — you.”
Being devious is about game-playing and dishonest manipulation:Let me give you an illustration. Or two.
In the last six months, two clients told me similar stories. In both situations, the husband had distanced himself from his wife. He told her he thought “something isn’t right,” and reacted by moving into the spare bedroom. Not long after, each husband accused his wife of having an affair.
Both denied having an affair, and expressed much anger over the accusation. “He needs to believe what I tell him, and not what he imagines!”
Now, here’s honesty: both women are having relationships with others. Here’s truthfulness: one is having a sexual affair with a friend. The other is experiencing a non-sexual affair — some “above the waist” fumbling about, but no intercourse.
Both women are really pissed off with their husbands for accusing them. They are adamant that neither guy has any proof that they are having an affair. They logic goes, since my husband is guessing, I can feel safe by secret-keeping, while being angry with my spouse for making “groundless” accusations.
This is deviousness, and dishonest manipulation to the nth degree.
As opposed to this scenario, which I heard about recently:
A friend and I were talking, and she mentioned she’d been at a bar with a friend, when a guy some 14 years younger walked up and started to chat her up. After 20 minutes, he said that he’d like to take her home and have sex with her. She admitted to being interested, but ended up declining. Her reason for declining is that she is in a 6‑month old relationship with a guy, and they hadn’t discussed what the rules are for extra-relationship sex.
Now, before I tell you more about what my friend decided, here are our four approaches to this situation:
Devious: my friend doesn’t tell her partner about anything. “I was out with Sally.” When asked, “Did anything interesting happen?” she replies, “NO! We had a drink and left. Why? Don’t you trust me?”
Equivocating: “I was out with Sally. We talked with a bunch of new people, and I had a lot of fun.” When asked, “Did anything interesting happen?” she replies, “I met an interesting guy, who works for XYZ company. He really seemed interested in my career, and he said he liked my dress.”
Honest: “I met this guy at the bar, and we talked for a while. He let me know that he thought I was sexy, and wanted to sleep with me. But I’m dating you so I told him no.”
Truthful: “I met this guy at the bar, and we talked for a while. He let me know that he thought I was sexy, and wanted me to have sex with him. I gotta tell you, I gave it some thought. I’ve never gone home with a guy for a one-night stand. But I realized that you and I have never talked about this; about how we’re going to deal with propositions that happen, or what to do when we get turned on by someone else. How do propose handling it? I really am curious about following through on this kind of offer, at least once.”
Whoa, I hear you saying. You’ve got to be kidding. No one would opt for truthfulness.
Interestingly, my friend opted for exactly that choice, and said that reading The Pathless Path and communicating with Darbella and me (and watching us communicate) led her to trust herself enough to opt for both honesty and truthfulness.
Her partner said, “Hmm. I need a bit of time to process it, but sure, I’d be interested in the conversation, and about setting up some flexible boundaries around this. The key for me is that we are both totally truthful as things happen.” They continue to talk, but haven’t reached a consensus yet. She’s waffling a bit at present: she really would like to try this out, but realizes that if she tries it, her boyfriend may want to too. She’s not sure she could handle that. So, being truthful, she also told him that. The dialog continues.
I’m amazed at how many people, both professionally and personally, are sneaking around, doing something or another that they are afraid to admit to. They’re telling half-truths and living lies, stealing ideas, cheating on taxes, meeting others clandestinely — whatever. Then, they justify their behaviour by claiming some moral high ground, or creating all kinds of excuses as to why both honesty and truthfulness, while noble ideas, are not applicable to their context.
Of course, their indirect deviousness does not come from nobility, but rather from cowardice.
I suspect the world would be a much better place if we didn’t do anything we weren’t prepared to admit to on the cover of Newsweek. Which is not to say that I’m advocating walking some narrow, morality-based path. What I’m saying is exactly the opposite.
We are free to do pretty much anything we want to,
with whomever we choose,
so long as we are honest and truthful about it,
and willing to accept the consequences or our actions.
The person who cheats on taxes, or goes behind a fellow worker’s back, as opposed to dealing with the realities and issues directly, or who violates the tenets of truthfulness within a primary relationship, will often have a long list of justifications. But in the end, our bodies, minds, hearts and souls suffer for our deceit.
As to my friend, she got a gold star for how she’s processing her issue. We continue to talk and explore what’s next for her. She is beginning to realize the depth of her sexual nature. In Bodywork, she’s aware of more passion and freedom arising in her belly and pelvis. Her reaction to the guy at the bar was her first “microdot” reaction, a term coined by Ben Wong & Jock McKeen, from The Haven. A microdot is a person who is an immediate sexual turn-on. My client described her feeling — “I was excited, and speechless, and blushing, and floundering around like a teenager.”
My friend’s next task is to integrate this new information into her self-definition, and to keep her intimate partner informed as to how it is going. If she chooses to act out any part of this new learning, her commitment to her partner is to let him know what she is doing, and with whom. No secrets. No games. No excuses.
When we resist truthfulness, when we come up with excuses — “People wouldn’t understand,” or “It’s nobody’s business,” or “I’ll fill her in on who I am, but gradually, so as not to scare her off,” what we are really saying is, “I am so unsure of myself that I chose deviousness over truth.” In other words, our reluctance to be open and revealing has nothing to do with others and their reactions, and everything to do with our own fear of the consequences of our choices.
This is a hard lesson, I know.
Most people are adept at hiding their natures and desires and wants and needs from others, for fear of the perceived consequences. To me, it is all about choice. If I have a trait or desire that I embarrass myself over, I can work with a therapist to learn strategies to express it safely. Because it is a part of my nature, I can accept it as an ongoing reality.
Years ago, for example, I learned to deal with my rage and anger and temper. I found ways to channel that energy so as to direct it harmlessly away from others. But I never deny, and actually easily admit to still having those attributes as part of my personality. Darbella, and other friends have seen me unashamedly enact all of it, safely.
If I have a curiosity or desire, my intimate partner should be the next person (after me) to know about it. Period. No exceptions. For Darbella and me the only “rule,” is total honesty and truthfulness. That’s not to say we have been perfect at this. There have been instances of miscommunication, but there has never been anything, to my knowledge, that we haven’t been willing, over time, to explore fully. And there never will be, from my side — and I have faith, from Dar’s side either. And lord knows, we’ve covered the full range of topics in 30 years.
This week, think about your circle. Explore what you are not telling your intimate partner, your spouse, lover, and friends. Make choices about who needs to hear who you are, what you are about, and what you are doing.
I am not saying that the person in the next cubicle at work needs to know all the details of your sex life or your political or personal focus. I am saying that lying, twisting the truth, and sneaking about, at any level, will come around and bite you on the butt.
As far as your intimate relationships go, anything less than honesty and truthfulness is deadly.
In the end, life is enough of a challenge when confronted and walked with — head on. Maybe the world would begin to transform if we simply admitted who we are, and spoke one less lie. It might be worth the experiment.
On Practicing Trust and Presence
Question: Could you elaborate on the balance between protecting ones self from trusting too easily, yet at the same time staying wide open and vulnerable as Presence? Having some difficulty there. A deep bow of thanks for your enlightening and uplifting work!
I was just thinking about how to reply to this question, and I got a DM through “Twitter.” From a close friend, with the message, “Hello, someone is saying really bad things about you.” Without thinking, I clicked on the minified link, and ended up what seemed to be the Twitter sign-in page.
Then, I realized two things: my auto-fill program wasn’t… well… offering to auto-fill, and the site was actually something like twititre.com.
In other words, my friend’s Twitter account has been hacked, and that was bogus DM.
Why is this interesting?
I’m pretty cyber literate, and amazingly careful online. Yet, I clicked the link without thought. Why? I thought I was being attacked! I was rushing right in to shore up defenses, protect my image, and decidedly, to deal with the fear and anger arising in my chest.
Fortunately for me, with years of practice, I’ve learned to mitigate the panic (btw, I’m still tight in my chest and throat) long enough to decide. The gap I created between panic and action meant that my eyes could focus on the address bar of my browser, and detect the bogus site.
The reason we think we need to protect ourselves is 2‑fold.
1) We’ve been betrayed in the past, and / or
2) we fear it will happen in the future.
So, we put up all kinds of barriers to vulnerability. We dish out communication by the dropper-full, and our betrayal detector is going full tilt.
Yet, the only way we figure ourselves out is through “contact at the edges” — in other words, through open and vulnerable dialogue — and equally through physical contact. And then, we take what we learn about self and other, and integrate it into our self-definition — and then into our actions.
We have to learn how to do this, and the way you learn is to study with someone who can provide a model, and then practice the model extensively, in the correct context.
Many people in my “crowd” — friends and clients alike, do this work with us. We provide a model, and then opportunities for practice. Some, who do our Weekend Residentials, get three days of this kind of intimate, vulnerable dialogue, plus the opportunity to push physical edges through Bodywork.
We also recommend events at The Haven.
One thing that the founders of the Haven developed was what they call an Intimacy Project. You find an interested partner and agree to spend some days in open, vulnerable dialogue. Some projects also involve physical intimacy, but that’s an add on. The principal “intimacy” is through dialogue that is about revelation of self to another.
What comes of this practice is a sense that when I reveal what I am thinking (my stories,) and feeling, and fantasizing about, and also reveal what is going on in my body (where I am tight, or relaxed, and what I want and need,) I free up the energy I am exerting containing myself.
Now, here’s the important part: the work has to work.
In other words, if I am discussing private matters with my partner and he is broadcasting what we say to others, I must question what’s going on. I would then use this as an opportunity to communicate with vulnerability — here is what we agreed to, here is what is happening. All I can do is what I can do — remain open and vulnerable in my communication, and be receptive to the other person. If the terms of the project are being breached, I can choose to exit the “project,” AND begin it again with someone else.
I have been communicating this way for decades now. I remain pretty much an open book — I tell friends, acquaintances, clients, pretty much everything that is going on for me. I do this to be revealing of who I am and how I see things. For some, this is too much, and they may choose to break off contact, or limit it, or reframe the relationship into an acquaintance-ship. In turn, I have developed better eyes for who to engage with, and how.
Or, as I like to say, “Intimacy is great, but I don’t have to be in intimate dialogue with the grocery clerk.”
So, I would say, to your question, that this is not a matter of balance, but of doing. Start with one person, and set up an Intimacy Project. Set a time-frame, and vow to speak from your heart, your head, your body, and your experience. Invite the same from your partner. (This is the “contract.”)
As you push deeper and deeper into revelation, you’ll see how this brings you into moment-by-moment presence. It does so because you are describing your present reality, not telling stories designed to keep others at arm’s length.
Set up a contract about emotions which arise — that they be fully and safely expressed — thus, the space you choose to do this in ought to allow emotional expression (not, perhaps, in a coffee house…) Most folk make themselves uncomfortable around emotions, so this is a good opportunity to expand your tolerance for expressing your emotions, and for seeing the emotions of your partner.
Set up physical “boundaries” regarding touch. There are no rules here, just what “feels right” for you in the particular context. Remember, though, that the real work is about vulnerable communication, first and foremost, and the physical aspect ought not become a distraction.
Then, add another, and another Intimacy Project. Practice, practice, practice!
Some will succeed and you’ll go very deep. Others will stall, and occasionally you’ll realize that the choice of person to work with was not optimal. If so, just gracefully exit and start again.
It’s not about trust. It’s about doing it anyway!