I’ve spent many years now in personal growth work – attending workshops, leading workshops, striving to become the best version of myself and assisting others to do the same. Two necessary elements of the journey that I keep getting invited to embrace are truth and honesty. Just when I think I’ve reached a pleasant plateau of growth and maturity, I get invited to go deeper. Have you had this experience? Going deeper usually means facing something I’d rather not face. Once I turn toward it I’m always surprised by the gifts received – a new understanding, a new intimacy, an opportunity for reconciliation, a (sometimes painful) chance to keep growing up, a deeper realization of my own goodness and the goodness of the world.
This month we’re looking at the relationship between truth, honesty and maturity.
It seems even as children we have an aversion to the truth, or at least we learn some version of truth avoidance early on. As adults, we develop sophisticated ways of avoiding the truth – mostly the truths about ourselves, the defenses we’ve created, our addictions, the cost of some of our choices. Or perhaps it’s the truth about what we truly need or want. In any event, we become suspicious of owning our gold, or our shadow, or both.
At COR we value Truth as a courageous and unwavering preference for and trust in reality – including the deepest truth about ourselves and the human experience – even when it is challenging. Honesty is the expression of that truth. And truth and honesty are an essential part of our work and I’d go so far as to say that they are required for emotional and spiritual maturity. Sometimes it means owning our deepest emotions, or the effect our actions have had on others, or a past we endured through no fault of our own.
In order to courageously look at the truth about ourselves and our lives, we need to trust that the truth is worth seeing, and is preferable to fantasy, which is where we often live. Our minds conjure all kinds of stories, explanations, judgments and repressions that seem to keep us safe. But, they don’t keep us safe. We have to learn that owning reality – the truth of our past, our emotions, our desires, our actions – and sometimes expressing that truth in a self-responsible way – is actually empowering.
Let me propose two principals that we can use as guideposts as we explore this theme during April. Consider what truths you might want to turn toward with compassionate curiosity in order to find new freedom and life. As you explore, remember:
1. The truth is actually much more empowering than fantasy or denial
2. You are essentially good. Yes, YOU. This is extremely important to realize since often we secretly suspect that what’s hiding in the shadows is actually proof of our special worthlessness. Nope. You are good, and only with this realization can you courageously and honestly own the truth of yourself and your life.
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All the best,