Experience: The Lie
Rushing around in the car one day, it hit me: I wasn’t telling the truth and it was draining my energy like a sieve. When I missed the traffic light, I hit the steering wheel and shouted. When the store I visited was closed, my blood pressure rose. I kept pushing myself to get more things done in the same amount of time. Rather than slow down to make sure things were done correctly, I cut corners (sometimes literally) and did a shoddy job. Driving while eating, I squirted sauce on my pants and the car seat. This meant I had clean up to do which took me even more time. My plan to get lots of stuff checked off my list was not working. And it was making me mad, creating a mess, and causing delays. I was lying to myself by wanting things to be different than they actually were.
Relevance: Net Gain
We are taught to “tell the truth” as if it is a chore or like taking bitter medicine. After sharing the truth, we slink into the corner waiting for something bad to happen to us. But what if telling the truth increases our power? What if there is a net gain rather than a perceived net loss? There is a profound truth about telling the truth: it builds courage, clears mental clutter, and raises our level of authenticity. Truth telling is a NET GAIN!
Confronting a mistruth forces us to come face to face with something that is out balance. For most of us, we want to be right and to control our lives. It is easy to tell a convenient mistruth to help make things easier or faster. The cost is that we actually move a little off balance. We reinforce a habit of turning away from what is right in front of us. We retreat into fantasy rather than find the strength to sit in what may not fit the plan or our pre-loaded answers. We may have made a mistake, overlooked something, or caused harm. When we fess-up, we admit to not having it all figured out. This builds a powerful muscle that allows us to weather the storm a bit stronger next time. We are more resilient and responsive in the moment.
Practicing truth telling also clears mental baggage. If you’ve ever held on to a lie or a secret, you know that it takes energy to withhold. Off loading allows us to clean the dark corners and untidy surfaces of our past. That’s why you actually feel lighter, emotionally and even physically, when you share a truth. Truth telling builds authenticity and integrity because you have greater capacity and function. You are more powerful the closer you are to the truth.
Practice: Inhabiting the truth
Pause for impact. If you feel out of balance, frustrated, or anxious, take a moment to pause and reflect on this question: What lie am I telling myself right now? It’s amazing what you will share with yourself! Once you get an answer, now you can act on it.
Clean it up. Rather than wait for tomorrow to share the truth, do it right now. If you can’t do it immediately, as an example, commit yourself by sending a quick email saying that you want to find a time to talk with the person. The main thing is not to wait. Training yourself this way, you begin to inhabit the truth rather than procrastinate.
Sweeping room to room. A game I like to play is not leaving messes in the house throughout the day. If I dirty a plate then I take 10 seconds to clean it and put it on the rack to dry. If I drop something, I pick it up right then and there rather than coming back later. Doing this is a way to develop your integrity muscle because you deal with things as they happen in the moment. Try out the game for yourself: sweep from room to room. You will be more powerfully in the NOW, closer to the truth!