It was another glorious sunny afternoon. Charmaine roller-bladed to the park to meet William, refreshed by her routine of meditation and workout. From his general appearance, Charmaine surmised he was feeling quite a bit better about his life. He looked happy, alert and pleased to be alive.
“How are you feeling today?” she asked, sitting next to him on the bench.
“Hey, Charmaine! I feel good... as a matter of fact, I... feel... f-f-fan- tas... fantas... tic...,” William exclaimed.
A tear – clearly a tear of joy – welled up in William’s eye. His emotions seemed to teeter right on the surface.
“Sorry,” he said, startled by this unexpected display. “Oh, man, this is awkward... it’s j-j-just that I f-feel so relieved.”
“You needn’t apologize,” Charmaine said, patting his arm. “Your feelings are real, so it’s good for you to express them. ”
“Maybe, but not here... not in front of people!”
“Why not?” she asked lightly. “You’re sharing with me the truth about who you really are and what’s going on inside you in this moment of now.”
“I think I’d rather do that and skip the tears,” William said, unconvinced.
“In some of our most radical moments of honesty, people often cry. I’ve always thought of crying as a natural storm flowing through us. It’s a release that freshens and invigorates us as it passes by. Crying is normal, even healthy, William.”
“Not for guys.”
“Sure it is. Tears are nature’s way to help you release strong feelings of sadness and grief. On the other hand, they can also express great relief or even joy. Remember, you can think of feelings as emotional gas,” she chuckled.
William laughed. “Want to hear some?”
“Only if it’s an honest expression of your feelings,” Charmaine said with a grin. “You know,” she continued more seriously, “feelings really are about honesty. Times when we cry are some of our more honest moments we have with ourselves. To do that in the presence of another is very intimate.”
“Yeah, more intimate than I’m comfortable with! I’ve always thought that crying, especially in front of another person, is a sign of weakness.”
“Not at all,” she exclaimed. “Crying actually reflects inner strength and honesty. It shows inner strength because it requires a clear intention and willingness to stay present to those kinds of intense feelings. Crying shows honesty because it reflects a willingness to face what is actually going on deep inside you. It takes courage to be honest, William.”
“I suppose so,” he said, pondering her words.
“There are two kinds of honesty: honesty with yourself and honesty with others. If you’re not honest with yourself it’s tough to be honest with others. Lying to others is the logical by-product of lying to yourself.”
“It would have to be, wouldn’t it,” William agreed thoughtfully.
“No question about it,” she answered. “Being honest with yourself requires courage and a healthy skepticism toward your old beliefs and assumptions.”
“But my beliefs are important to me. You know, sometimes it feels as if I need to be right.”
“We can learn to let go of needing to be right, William. The greatest obstacle to discovering truth is being convinced you already know it.”
“Hmmm. Good point.”
“We all tend to think we’re objective, that we see things as they really are...”
“...but reality is what it is,” said William.
“Our ego doesn’t even have access to ‘reality’ except through its own frame of reference, which is made up of our unseen thoughts, attitudes, beliefs and assumptions. The only legitimate question is, ‘Would you like to know the frame of reference through which your ego tends to view reality?’ Imagine looking at life through a window which is gray and critical. So everywhere you look, everything looks a little gray, and you see lots to criticize.”
“Charmaine, it would be like looking through a pair of sunglasses, wouldn’t it? Everything you see is affected by the lens and after a while, you think that’s the way it really is.”
“Nice illustration, William, but it’s actually more like you’re looking at life through a pair of extended-wear soft contact lenses that you forgot you had in. And since the universe is wired up to provide us with evidence that supports whatever position we’ve already taken about life, we can’t even test it out. So if you think your boss is a jerk, you will see evidence to support that. If you think Emily is beautiful, you will see her beauty. If you think you can’t do something, guess what? You can’t do it. You can’t test it out if you can’t see that how you experience your life is based not on reality, but rather on the lens of the window you don’t even know you’re looking through.”
“I’ve been seeing life through a more rosy, appreciative window lately. Does that mean I’m just making it all up?”
Charmaine laughed. “That’s what we all do! It’s natural,” she said. “Again, the question is, ‘Would you like to know about the lens through which you’ve been looking at the world?’ The quality of the lens through which we experience life is made up of our unseen thoughts, attitudes and beliefs. Too often we blindly accept what we’re told by others, who may or may not be well-intentioned. Our perceptions are so colored by the stories we tell ourselves of our past experiences, we often get stuck and miss the truth about ourselves. It’s important to have the courage and self-respect to keep taking a fresh look at ourselves with integrity and compassion. Don’t forget compassion.”
“Well, I think it would be really hard to separate my assumptions about truth from truth itself,” said William.
“You’re right. It is difficult,” Charmaine agreed. “One of the best ways to find the truth within you, though, is to notice how your body reacts to what you’re thinking.”
“Now, I think I could do that!”
“Those uncomfortable feelings are there to tell you whether or not you’re being honest with yourself. An upset stomach, tightness in your chest or a headache can be symptoms that let you know you need an internal reality-check. Anger, irritation, resistance and fear indicate that you may be having problems.”
“Problems with what?”
“With facing the truth, or accepting the fact that you need to make a change in your life, or your approach to life,” said Charmaine. “It’s also possible to feel similar physical reactions when others are dishonest with you.”
“Like the feeling you get when you know someone is lying or trying to mislead you?”
“You feel uncomfortable and off-balance, don’t you,” she asked, nodding in agreement. “And you probably experience negative emotions as well as a physical reaction towards them, too.”
“Yes, I do! That must be why I feel so irritable around a few people at work who seem like such phonies.”
“I imagine so. And the same thing happens when you know you’re lying to yourself. When you try to hide aspects of yourself or your behavior, your shame seems to grow. It distances you from others. You cut yourself off from real help. Sometimes, when it’s tough to find clarity, we might need help from outside ourselves. It can be helpful to talk to friends, your mate, or your co-workers and ask what they think when you’re struggling.”
“I don’t know. That sounds risky.”
Charmaine shrugged. “If you can’t speak the truth to someone else, it’s not a relationship; it’s an arrangement, a charade, a dance between two facades.”
“But they might not understand,” William said with a worried expression.
“Or they may see you more clearly than you see yourself,” Charmaine suggested. “We’re always more transparent than we think. People can see right through our image-management, if they’re paying any attention at all. Remember, the reason to tell the truth is not so much for the benefit of others but for us to feel authentic and real to ourselves. When you’re true to yourself, you feel more alive.”
“Okay,” William replied with a smirk and a wink, “but I’m not going to ask that long-haired salesman, John, how he sees me. I think he set his hair dryer on stun once too often. He must have fried a few brain neurons.”
Charmaine laughed with William and squeezed his arm affectionately. William’s true personality seemed to be re-emerging, sense of humor and all! ‘Good!’ she thought contentedly, and drew a deep breath of fresh air.
After a few moments of silence, Charmaine turned to William and looked him straight in the eye.
“Your truth is your power. It allows access to your clarity, and clarity wields its own power. Honesty can also be your salvation, because it will save you from a world of problems, guiding you out of countless messes.”
“But honesty,” she continued, “may also create some of its own problems. In the long run, though, it will serve you better than lies. Once you understand that and believe it, life gets simpler and more joyous.”
“Sometimes it’s so uncomfortable to be honest,” William said, shuddering a little.
“It’s usually the anticipation of telling the truth that’s so scary for our ego,” she answered. “My father once said, ‘When you’re with someone and you realize there is something you’re afraid to say, it’s probably the first thing you need to say.’ I would add, ‘...if you can do it with an open heart.’”
“Being honest with yourself and the world around you will also guide you to your life purpose. e more honest you are with your- self, the more you’ll know and understand who you are. us the more passion and aliveness you’ll feel.”
“I’m for more passion and aliveness,” William grinned playfully. “Honest!”
“That’s the spirit,” Charmaine grinned. “Your journey has already begun, and honesty is like a compass on that journey. You’ll know when you’re on track because life feels energizing and clear. If you get off course, you’ll know that too, because something won’t feel right. And the added benefit when you tell the truth is that you don’t have to remember everything you said!” Now Charmaine grinned play- fully. "That’s a big plus when you get as old as I am.”
“What if I make mistakes ...?”
“If you start looking at yourself with the love and compassion you so richly deserve, you’ll soon realize that there are no real mistakes, only lessons.”
“No mistakes,” William repeated. No mistakes?”
“Pleasant thought, isn’t it?” Charmaine smiled at her friend’s expression of incredulity. “It doesn’t serve you to stay upset with yourself. Just pay attention to how you behaved, learn the lesson and gently move on. Be patient with yourself the way you were with the world when you were first in love. We’re all ‘in process’. So who we are inside and what we do on the outside will not always be aligned. All of life is a growth process. Stumbling and falling sometimes is a natural part of the journey.”
“That’s reassuring,” William sighed.
“When people understand the power of being honest with themselves, they gain clarity. They can tell their truth because there’s nothing left to fear.”
“Nothing left to fear,” William reflected. “Wouldn’t that be heaven!”
“Wouldn’t it,” Charmaine agreed wholeheartedly. “In the process, you develop love and compassion for yourself. And here’s the bonus: you then create an intimate connection and caring for others.”
“I’m going to practice being honest with myself,” William resolved. “It sure seems worth it to make the effort. What about honesty with others? Why do we lie so much?”
“That’s a really significant question. We’re born with basic emotional needs. We need totally unconditional love absolutely guaranteed in each and every moment of now throughout our entire lives. But our ego thinks it has to do something to get that love. It believes we are clearly not good enough - deficient in some way - or we would be getting that love. So we begin, even in infancy to develop a way of being in the world. This way of being is designed to increase the likelihood of getting the love we need and want. It’s also designed to help us deal with the pain of not getting that love. is is the beginning of our lying, or our image management. It’s part of our ego’s innocent but misguided strategy for finding the love it wants.”
“The chances of getting the love we really need and want look pretty bleak.”
“That’s true, William, as long as you’re looking out in the world for it.”
“That’s what the inward journey is all about, isn’t it?”
“Yes. Remember, at a soulful level, through an inward journey, we all have access to infinite love! We have Divine access to exactly what our ego so desperately searches for out in the world. And when you learn to tap into that infinite and unconditional love, you can first bring it to your starving ego. en you can bring that same quality of joy, well-being and love to your life, your work, your relationships and your world instead of running around trying to find love in your world.”
“I had never thought about bringing love to the world, rather than seeking love from the world,” he said. “Imagine if everyone did that!”
Charmaine closed her eyes and visualized a world like that. She breathed deeply and opened her eyes to William.
“Yes, imagine! The beauty of honesty is that the more truthful you are, the more you’re aligned with your authentic self, your soul.”
“So, honesty,” William concluded, “is an access point to infinite love.”
"That’s been my experience,” she said warmly.
“Would you say honesty is an access key to the quality of life?” “It can be. But not being totally enlightened, we’re unlikely to be in that space all the time. It is possible, though, to cultivate defenselessness and telling on yourself, practices which help make that happen in more moments of now than you might imagine.”
“What do you mean by practicing defenselessness and telling on yourself?” William asked.
“Your ego is the only thing that ever needs defending,” Charmaine explained. “On the other hand, your soul is infinitely safe. So if someone criticizes you, try looking for the kernel of truth in their accusation. Acknowledge it rather than respond to the part that may not feel true.”
William shifted uneasily.
“Telling on yourself,” she continued, noting William’s discomfort, “is volunteering information that your ego would be defensive about. The anticipation of this gives your ego the willies, but it’s a wonderful way to get out of your ego and back to your soul. Telling on yourself is an extension of practicing defenselessness.”
“Can you give me an example?”
“Sure, William. Before I told you about my smoking I realized a part of me did not want you to know that. I thought you might think badly of me or that I would lose credibility with you. But after I mentioned it I felt relieved that I had been honest and not hidden anything from you. Otherwise I would have felt like I was living a lie with you.”
“Charmaine, I have to admit when you told me about your smoking, all of a sudden I felt closer to you. It felt good. Like maybe I don’t have to be perfect either. A strong argument for honesty,” said William.
“Yes, I felt closer to you too. Another major aspect of our ‘way of being’ in the world is that most people have a very low tolerance for conflict and disharmony.”
“That’s me,” William said. “I’ll do almost anything to avoid it.” “Which usually leads to a lie, right?”
“Well, I try not to lie...”
“When we say ‘yes’ to things that don’t feel right, to avoid hurting someone’s feelings or disappointing them, that’s a lie.”
“Well. In that case, I guess I’m a prolific liar,” William exclaimed. “Withholding love and support out of fear or resentment is just as much a lie as giving more than is healthy to give.”
“I remember lying to my parents because I didn’t want to disappoint them,” said William thoughtfully.
“Yes, unfortunately, lying is one of the first things we learn to do. Our parents and others around us unwittingly reinforce it.”
“And at work,” William added, “I say things I don’t really mean, to protect a co-worker or make someone feel better.”
“We tell ourselves we lie because we don’t want to hurt someone else’s feelings. But generally it’s ourselves we’re protecting. We don’t want to feel what we feel when we see someone we care about suffering.”
“I hadn’t thought of it that way,” said William. “Now that I think about it, I guess I do sort of lie to help interactions go smoother, and to protect myself from embarrassment and disapproval. Or to get myself out of a bind.”
Charmaine sighed. “Our tendency to not tell the truth is pervasive, isn’t it? We lie to make ourselves look better, to make a positive impression on others and even to gain advantage over someone else. ere seems no end to the reasons we won’t allow ourselves to just tell the truth!”
“I suppose because lying so often feels like the kinder thing to do,” he said.
“Not in the long-run,” she assured him. “When we lie, we lose our necessary, appropriate and healthy boundaries. A wise old friend of mine calls this a disease of chronic self-neglect.”
“Lying is a form of self-neglect?”
“Yes, when we become preoccupied with what others feel, need and want,” Charmaine answered. “If we do this long enough, we lose sight of who we really are and what we really feel and what we really need and want.”
“Oh, okay, I see what you’re getting at,” William said.
“It’s also a part of that innocent but misguided strategy for love and survival. It’s misguided because there is no amount of anything we could ever do, anything we could ever have or anything we could ever be that would actually cause us to get the love we need. e physical world of reality simply doesn’t offer it in that size package. But it’s the only place our ego knows to look.”
“You know, Charmaine, some lies don’t seem so bad. Like white lies - they seem harmless and are done out of kindness, aren’t they?”
“I suppose if you’re consciously aware that you’re lying and know you want to do it, you might be able to live with yourself,” Charmaine admitted cautiously. “But you’re just lying to get through the moment. Unfortunately, by making lying a lifestyle, you miss the moment. And you miss the next moment. Lying cuts off your access to being fully present in a moment of now.”
“I suppose most people opt for the easy way out of a difficult situation,” he said.
“People obviously believe that lying makes life easier. But when lies mount up, we get stressed and we don’t feel good. In the end, we’re confused and inauthentic.”
“Not to mention ‘wrong’,” he added.
“Being honest is practical. If you live a lie, eventually your life won’t work. If you tell the truth, especially with grace and love, you’ll feel better - and just be happier.”
“I know,” interjected William, “but telling the bare-naked truth is hard because it goes against our conditioning. Being polite to avoid telling the truth, being tactful and for that matter, being politically correct at the expense of telling the truth, is constantly reinforced by our whole society.”
“True,” said Charmaine.
“Maybe it’s all right for poker players and actors to lie, but I frankly feel betrayed when politicians and some of our business leaders lie for the sake of greed and power,” he said, gathering momentum.
“I don’t think there is anything inherently wrong with business or capitalism. I know business can be done ethically and produce a quality product and still make a reasonable profit without exploitation. But I’m constantly being bombarded with advertising that’s barely truthful! en there are the offers I get from credit card companies and banks, barely readable contracts printed in the smallest of type. And what about those increasingly complicated phone bills. e way they present those bills, you’d almost have to be an attorney to understand them...”
Charmaine paused to let William catch his breath. “You’re right,” she said with a smile. “Those things don’t reflect much honesty.”
“If lying doesn’t ‘pay’, I’m sure not seeing evidence of it in the everyday business world. On the contrary. It seems to pay big!”
“It may not always appear to ‘cost’ in the short term,” she said, “but it eventually does exact a price, William, both in the bottom line and spiritually. Lying is a soul-robbing activity.”
“Wow, you can say that again!”
“Lying is a soul-robbing activity, William,” Charmaine repeated solemnly. It also affects one’s health more than most people might think. It can cause insomnia and other physical problems. Let’s face it, the stress of constantly pretending and avoiding being found out, and the wear and tear of misleading others, is an ongoing source of misery. Telling the truth can actually relieve feelings of depression and anxiety. Without honesty we can’t move on. We just stay stuck.”
“And people don’t trust liars!” he added.
“Most people see right through a lie if they’re paying any attention at all,” Charmaine agreed. “ ink of it this way, William. Imagine a magic hat. When you wear this hat everyone within five hundred feet of you knows every thought you have. To the degree you’re willing to wear this magic hat, you’re a free person. And in order to wear this magic hat, you really have to trust in yourself and the rest of the world. Trust is the most essential ingredient to real success and meaningful relationships.”
“I was just thinking of that wonderful movie, Forrest Gump. Gump was so likable partly because he could only tell the truth, and it always worked out for him.”
“I liked that movie, too. Gump showed us that honesty leads to stronger and more loving relationships. When people tell the truth about who they are, what they’ve done, what they feel and what they’re thinking, they have nothing to hide. ey find a new kind of freedom.”
William put out his hand to help Charmaine up.
“I’d give anything to be that kind of free,” he said finally.
“In that case,” said Charmaine quietly, “you’re on the right path.”
Clue #5: Be Honest With Yourself in All Things.
The power of honesty is that the more you tell the truth to yourself and the world around you, the more you are aligned with your authentic self, your soul. Though we are all quite transparent, the reason for telling the truth is not so much for others as for our own benefit. With it comes a feel- ing of aliveness, authenticity and new life-energy. All honesty begins with honesty with yourself.
- Honesty is an access point to infinite love.
- There are two kinds of honesty: honesty with yourself and honesty with others.
- If you’re honest with yourself it’s easier to be honest with others.
- Telling the truth is contrary to our early conditioning.
- Withholding our love and support from others out of fear and resentment is just as much a lie as giving more than is healthy for us to give.
- Being honest with yourself requires courage and a healthy skepticism toward your old beliefs.
- The greatest obstacle to discovering the truth is being convinced you already know it.
- Our physical reactions can indicate whether we are telling the truth.
- The more you are honest with yourself, the more you will know yourself and understand who you are.
- We are always more transparent than we think. The power of honesty is this: the more you tell the truth to yourself and the world around you, the more you are aligned with your authentic self, your soul.
- We often are dishonest because we have a very low tolerance for conflict and disharmony.
- We often lie to protect ourselves and others from consequences, punishment, embarrassment and disapproval, or to ‘look good’ and gain advantage over others.
- Lying is a sympton of the disease of chronic self-neglect.
- Lying is soul-robbing and it affects our mental and physical health.
- If you lie you won’t trust others and they won’t trust you.
- If you live a lie your life won’t work.
- If you can’t speak the truth to others, it’s not a relationship - it’s a charade.
- Being honest with yourself and the world around you will help guide you to your life purpose.
- If you live a lie at work, eventually your private life won’t work either.
The Benefits of Being Honest With Yourself
Telling the truth can relieve depression, anxiety, insomnia, physical illness and the stress of constantly pretending. In the process of telling the truth, you develop love and compassion for yourself. And here’s the bonus: you then create the possibility of an intimate connection and concern for others.
Exercise “Death Bed Analysis”
Find a comfortable, quiet, warm place to lie down. Make yourself as comfortable as possible. Take a few softening breaths and close your eyes. Decide to relax and let go of any concerns for the next 15 minutes.
Now imagine yourself on your death bed. Find someplace that feels safe and comfortable. Imagine peacefully lying down gazing out on a sunset. Now reflect back on your life and begin to ask yourself some questions . You will find you are much clearer about things if you project yourself forward to your death bed and look back at your life as a whole experience. Ask questions such as: “Did I spend too much time watching TV, not enough time or just the right amount?” “Did I spend too much time listening to the children, not enough time or just the right amount?” “Did I get too many massages, not enough massages or just the right amount?”
Now ask yourself a more difficult question about something that has been on your mind lately. Again, project yourself forward and then look back seeing your life as one whole experience. Ask a question such as: “Should I have gone back to school or was it really too late?” “Should I have stayed at that job?” “Should I have taken that vacation?” “Could I have more fully committed to my relationship? What would that have looked like?”
The clarity you can find in this exercise will help you take action in any arena of your life. Projecting yourself into the future and looking back can sometimes take you to the place where your clarity is waiting. Clarity has its own power. is is useful way to be honest with your- self without all the distractions, considerations, image management and concerns of your daily life. Being honest with yourself, coming from a deep clarity, empowers you to be honest with others and to take the steps necessary to align your current life patterns with your deeper values.