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Facing Our Own Dishonesty

 

“A word fitly spoken is like apples of gold in pictures of silver.”  — Prov. 25:11

Facing our own dishonesty can be daunting, but maintaining absolute honesty is a basic premise of our recovery program.  12 Step programs of recovery describe it as “rigorous” honesty.  Belief that we can be honest without a solid commitment simply won’t work.

The more we grow, the more we develop our ability to make one choice at a time, to experience one feeling at a time, to tell the truth one situation at a time.  We admit to ourselves when we feel guilty, angry, fearful, and resentful – the negative feelings that are difficult to face.  Being honest is how we finally come to know what used to baffle us about our addiction.  When we create a unity between honest feeling, honest thinking, and honest action, we find that we have become honest people.  Personal honesty is a gift for which I thank the Universe every day.


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Bitch, Bitch, Bitch

 

“Kindness it is that brings forth kindness always.” –Sophocles

 

“That guy on Facebook is being a total ass to me today.”

“What the fuck is her problem?  Did you see how that woman just looked at me?”

“That is so fucked up!  What’s wrong with this world?”

— Mark on a bad day.

 

“Bitch, bitch, bitch. That’s all you seem to be doing today” my friend Scott said to me; after listening to me spew negativity for a bulk of one morning together. His words got my attention.  Why would I blame the world, when it’s me that is out of sorts?

Life after all, is neutral.  It is our moods and attitudes that affect our view of things and the responses we receive.  If we are seeing life through the dark glasses of downheartedness, then we can’t blame the world for seeing grim.

I know that when I’m at ease with myself and feel at home in my life, other people seem friendly and serene.  A smile begets a smile; the simplest greeting elicits a friendly response.  And when I’m considerate to a neighbor or friend; it sets good deeds in motion.  Kindness is contagious.  I really do believe that it is kindness and love that make the world a brighter, better place.



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Your Authentic Self

 

“To thine own self be true…”

 

Most of us associate this quote from Shakespeare’s Hamlet Act 1, scene 3, 78-82:

Polonius:
This above all: to thine own self be true,
And it must follow, as the night the day,
Thou canst not then be false to any man.
Farewell, my blessing season this in thee!

Laertes:
Most humbly do I take my leave, my lord.

“To thine own self be true” is Polonius’s last piece of advice to his son Laertes; Polonius has in mind something much more Elizabethan than the New Age self-knowledge that the phrase now suggests. To me, what I get from this quote is that unless we can be true to ourselves first, we cannot be true to others.

My path of personal growth has led me recently to wonder, what exactly is one’s “authentic self”? How do we get there? From this exploration, I have summarized what I have learned and am eager to share it with you.

Definitions:

Authentic: Genuine; literally self-authored or endorsed.

Self: Your physical and mental being with all its human and unique characteristics.

Authentic Self: The true you; aligned and congruent self-image, stature, values, beliefs, goals, behavior, word, and public image.

Your Authentic Self and Truth

How many of us have a hard time being true to ourselves?  Those of us that gave up so much of our Self just so that we could be in the life of another did so at the cost of losing who we are in the process. By allowing someone else to define who we are caused us to lose our ability to discover and grow inwardly.  We no longer are able to discern a truth from a lie.  For many of us, we have accepted lies for so long, that finding out what is truth takes time.

Truth is a word that brings out negative reactions to many of us. Accepting truth about ourselves is difficult, especially to those of us who have been abused.  But truth does set one free if we will allow it to; it is a crucial part of healing.  It gives us the freedom to be who we are.  We are able to come to terms with our weakness (without judgment or condemnation) and appreciate our strength.  Truth gives strength; it naturally builds healthy boundaries.

Truth is open; it is honest even at the risk of being vulnerable again.  Truth fears no reaction. Truth is light and brings forth life.  When we walk in truth, we walk in light and when we walk in light we live a healthy life.

Truth is also love.  The greatest act of love towards another is living a life that is truthful.  For those of us who find it difficult to love ourselves, we will find it will come more easily when we are truthful about who we are.  If we walk in truth, we walk in perfect love, and if we walk in perfect love, then we do not walk in fear because perfect love cast out fear.  Because we have been honest with ourselves, we are able to love ourselves with all of our imperfections, knowing that we are a work in “progress” and therefore need not have others approval.

“And it must follow, as the night the day,
Thou canst not then be false to any man.
Farewell, my blessing season this in thee!”

The second part of this verse is a natural occurrence if we hold true to the first part of the verse.  So, when in doubt about our motives of not being truthful with someone….look inside, are we being less than truthful to ourselves?

Just what makes up an “authentic person”?  It is someone who:

Has great listening skills: everyone, regardless of who they are, wants to be acknowledged, appreciated and loved. When you are engaged in a conversation with someone, are you truly focusing 100% of your attention on what that person is saying? Or is your brain formulating something to say at the next available opportunity?  Are your eyes constantly roaming the room, wondering who else just walked in? An authentic person’s attention is razor-sharp, making the other person feel like the most important person in the world.

Treats others fairly: When carrying out your role, whether it be a mother, business executive, pilot, waitress, teacher or coach, to name a few, you are always dealing with other people. The biggest secret is how you treat them. Do you treat others with respect or are you condescending, especially if they screwed up?

Has integrity: Everyone wants something. But authentic people are conscious of the operative watchword: integrity. They will do the ethical thing even if it means a loss of personal benefits for themselves.

Has the ability to communicate: Business leaders who conscientiously communicate in the open, especially when there is a lot of uncertainty hovering over the future of their employees, end up earning tremendous amount of trust. Rather than hiding behind the cloak of their boardrooms, they step up to the plate and keep people informed as much as possible. Authentic people make themselves valuable because they care enough to keep others in the loop by communicating.

Has the willingness to show transparency: I’ve done a lot of public speaking in my life. Public speakers who aren’t afraid to stand up on stage and speak from the heart, showing their childlike enthusiasm and not presenting themselves as flawless packages, often win the hearts of their audiences.

Why? Because it makes them real. Authentic speakers go into a speaking engagement with the attitude of “I am grateful all these people are spending time with me and I will give them a reason to laugh, cry and otherwise enjoy themselves without worrying how I look.”

Inauthentic speakers will say, “Well, there’s a bunch of jerks out there, I’ll just get in there, get it over and fool them senselessly with my appearance of great success.” People who are willing to be transparent win the love and respect of others.

Food for thought: Authentic people make more friends in two weeks by becoming interested in other people than in 2 months by trying to get other people interested in them!

Some experts on authenticity assert that if an individual is not living authentically in their lives, then they lose meaning and can fall into chronic anxiety, boredom and despair. People might pursue “quick fixes” to avoid the responsibility of living authentically with quick fixes such as anesthetizing themselves with alcohol or drugs or living in fantasies.

Becoming your Authentic Self

To become your authentic self, begin by knowing yourself. Understand human nature, what you can change and what you cannot, your own personality traits, learned behaviors, your values, beliefs, needs, goals, and motives. Consider the choices, events and people who may have “molded” you. Begin to know what guides you throughout life. Know your true strengths. Apply your true strengths to authentic goals. Gain the confidence to be humble. Begin to integrate and align your values, beliefs and actions.

We must face the fears that block our inner truths from coming out, especially the fear of rejection. Even when we feel strong enough to communicate the truth, we don’t always have clarity about what is true for us.  But being authentic doesn’t mean being perfect.  It just means doing our best to be real.  Sometimes that means exposing our warts and imperfections, but there lays the beauty of authenticity.

Coming into your Authentic Self

Don Miguel Ruiz shares centuries of Toltec wisdom in his book The Four Agreements. To apply this wisdom, choose to create these profound agreements with yourself:

Be impeccable with your word. Carefully look at what you tell yourself, what you tell others, and when you decide to speak. Use your word consistently to express and strengthen your values. Don’t use or overlook factual errors, fallacies or distortions during communications. Express yourself authentically. Earn trust.

Do what you say.

Don’t take anything personally. It’s not all about you. Reject the fallacy of personalization.

Rely confidently on your own well-founded self-concept; it is the only evaluation of your worth that matters.

Challenge and balance your first-person point-of-view.

Don’t make assumptions. Suspend judgment. Readily acknowledge what you don’t know and have the courage to ask questions. Carefully look at the evidence. Don’t attribute intent to others. Retain a healthy skepticism as you avoid cynicism. Develop, refine, and constantly apply your own well-founded theory of knowledge.

Always do your best. Do all you can while you recognize you can’t do it all. All you can do is all you can do. You are good enough. Apply your time and effort toward your well-chosen and enduring goals.

These agreements are essential elements of authentic expression and earning trust.

References

Authentic Happiness: Using the New Positive Psychology to Realize Your Potential for Lasting Fulfillment, by Martin Seligman

Why We Do What We Do: Understanding Self-Motivation, by Edward L. Deci, Richard Flaste

I Am a Strange Loop, by Douglas Hofstadter

Authentic Happiness Website, by Martin Seligman, Director of the University of Pennsylvania Positive Psychology Center.http://www.authentichappiness.sas.upenn.edu/Default.aspx

Self Matters, by Phillip C. McGraw

Six Pillars of Self-Esteem, by Nathaniel Branden

The Four Agreements, by Don Miguel Ruiz

Peaceful Warrior — Dan Millman learns to enjoy the journey in this docudrama.

Everybody Needs a Rock, by Byrd Baylor and Peter Parnall

Knowing Yourself, an Amazon.com Listmania List

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Feeling is the Inner Life

Expression is the Outer Life

I’ve realized that there’s a difference between my ability to feel, my ability to express my feelings, and my ability to let go.  I know there are many painful emotions I learned to suppress when I was young, particularly anger or sadness.  Other emotions might be difficult to feel because they are connected to past pain.

Yet there’s no letting go, no moving on, until I stop trying to avoid feelings such as sorrow, anger, rage or despair.  I have found the way to begin working through difficult feelings is to reach out to people with a phone call, email, or blog comment.  Other ways I have found to help are writing (blogging or journaling); having a good cry, or plan a healing ritual which can be as simple as taking a couple of days alone, just to think.  For some of us, turning to our Higher Power, as we know it provides the spiritual help and nourishment we need.

The release that will come as a result of expressing our feelings will help to ease the pain.  It’s not realistic to release all the pain from our past all at once, but we can begin by letting go of a little piece today.

Dispute Leads to Anger and Vindictiveness

 

“Only that action is just which does not harm either party to a dispute.” — Gandhi

Most of the disputes I have occur when I realize I have been lied to. I hate being lied to. I’m not stupid. I want to know that I’m dealing with people in “reality” rather than a fictitious world made up through lies. I find myself occasionally embroiled in a bitter dispute and feel determined at all costs to back a person into a corner to get them to admit to their lie, or to impose my solution to the dispute, even though I know it may cause the other person harm. I have come to know that I don’t really want a solution at all; I want revenge.

The wish to harm others may be derived from feeling that I have been hurt, perhaps as a child. I may be recalling feelings of being neglected, misunderstood, or even abused and assaulted. So to me, in my mind, the world owes me something and I intend to collect. I may even bear grudges and resentments against successful people, not because they have done me wrong, but merely because they are – successful.

I need to let my shame and sorrow out into the clear light of day. By opening myself up to others, I will surely find that together we can defuse my anger and want to hurt others. I can stand on equal footing with others and have no more need for resentment and rage.

I know that I am gradually getting rid of my secret shame that causes me to act out of anger and vindictiveness.

 

But I’m ANGRY!

Don’t hold to anger, hurt or pain. They steal your energy and keep you from love.” — Source Unknown

Perhaps we were brought up in a family where anger was unthinkable and never mentioned; voices were never raised. Perhaps everything was bottled up because we were afraid of anger. But we were angry!

It’s hard to be angry appropriately. It needs to be learned, like so many things in our emotional life. If we haven’t learned to direct our anger in proper ways, we may find ourselves flying into sudden, inexplicable and unfocused rages that scare us and people around us. Or else we behave sullenly and irritably for no clear reason. Or, we get mad now for something that happened long ago, maybe even years ago.

As we try to better ourselves through personal growth, we learn how to direct our anger and get angry in a justifiable and right way. It’s good to get rid of our anger for the past, so that we can concentrate on living fully in the present.

Words Can Hurt

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Never forget what a man says to you when he is angry.”  — Henry Ward Beecher

Do we speak the truth when we’re angry?  I know that I am often quick to say, “I really didn’t mean it,” and I may even try to make amends for my thoughtlessness.  But people, especially children, rarely forget what was said to them in anger.

Angry words hurt and mark people; especially when trussed up with dishonesty and distortions.  Even if our parents didn’t really mean it, those angry voices and words are still with us.  We often come to believe that our parents didn’t love us or respect us; otherwise, how could they have said those angry things that still hurt? We still may believe this way, or “make up in our minds” that the source of the verbal onslaught of ugly may hold some sliver of truth.

We will always have moments of anger.  But we can think twice before letting anger, dishonesty, and distortions dictate our speech.  Words can hurt and people remember.

What’s Your Mood Today?

To Answer, Be Honest With Yourself


“In an honest man there is always something of a child” — Martial —

Why is it that sometimes I can talk about a problem and still not feel better? Usually, that’s a sign to keep talking. As I go through a discovery process about something that’s bothering me, or what my mood may be today, it’s possible that I have left out important information. Or, I might not know how I feel – the words are there, but only on a rational, intellectual level. The hurt, sadness, anger, joy, or resentment is missing.

Maybe I haven’t been able to admit my feelings, even to myself. That can be the hardest part of working through a problem, even harder than being honest with another person. To be comfortable enough with my feelings to always know how I feel is a lifelong process, and one I will never perfect. But I know that the more honest I am with myself, the more accepting I’ll be as well. That’s a gift I can give myself every day.  Today, I’m going to allow my feelings to guide me to be more honest. I no longer have to keep secrets from myself, or others.


So Many of Us Have a Problem with Anger

Anger as soon as fed is dead. ‘Tis starving makes it fat.”  — Emily Dickinson

I feel I have a problem with anger.  I’m aware of certain acquaintances and friends who identify with anger issues, some of whom are working on anger management with a therapist. Many of us seem to have a problem with anger, often misdirection it and hurting the most innocent and loved people in our life.  This anger we feel may have developed as a result of sexual abuse, neglect, or beatings we may have experienced as children which we turned against ourselves or others in a vicious, repetitive cycle.

When I became aware of my problem with anger, I began work with my therapist to create new tools to cope with my feelings appropriately.  I needed to talk about all the incidents that still tormented me. I encouraged in my sessions to get angry at those that abused me or those I felt victimized by.  I learned that I was likely to go on through life being a victim until I could fight my way through those early situations.  It is often necessary to give one’s self permission to vent anger as an affirmation of self-worth, and not a contradiction of all the lessons learned about being tolerant, forgiving and peace-loving.

It is quite possible to, “hate the deed and not the do-er” by separating in one’s mind, the behavior, from the person.  We have the right to hate what happened to us; we have the right to be angry at people for their aggressive, hurtful acts, while being ready to forgive them as people who need love just as much as we do.  If anger is held back, it will fester and come out in mean and petty ways.  Anger starved will rob us of our dignity and tranquility.

Today I Feel Hatred

Hatred

“If you hate a person, you hate something in him that is part of yourself” –Herman Hesse

Hatred, just like anger, has the potential to corrode and eats away at me, and I often end up being the loser. My life has been wrecked by the resentments and hostilities I have felt for others.

Why? Because hatred paralyzes me and prevents me from moving forward. I find myself becoming fixed in ugly feuds and rivalries and then I’m unable to go on with a happier life. I am in that dark place today and I am trying to take the necessary time I need to look within myself.   As I become more clear-sighted about my hatreds I find that they are often directed at parts of me that I dislike, or even fear. For example, I may hate a certain noise because I was afraid of a similar noise when I was a child; I may detest others’ sexual preferences because I fear it may secretly be my own.

Today, I despise someone’s manipulation, dishonesty and defensiveness about their previously communicated commitments and the fabricated lies and distortions they have created, all in trying to discredit me and what I know to be the truth.

While looking at this hatred I feel toward this person and being honest with myself, I am beginning to get to the root of my anger and hatred. As I continue this process of looking within I know I will be able to deal with my feelings, and let them be carried away by the winds of time. To help me until I have accomplished this, I have created an affirmation which goes, “I realize that my anger and hatred is often directed at myself. Now I am ready to work to get free of the hatred that cripples me.”