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How Honest Are You with Yourself?

If you have ever attended a Fearless Living™ workshop with Rhonda Britten, the founder of the Fearless Living Institute*, then you know she expects participants to be compassionate, honest, and take personal responsibility. I love how she fits these 3 items together and why that sequence is important. One of the things I am learning is that honesty doesn’t exist in a vacuum, it needs the companions of compassion and personal responsibility.

How honest are you with yourself, really? I used to think I was pretty honest, and was a bit surprised at how much I beat up on myself when I felt like I had no choice or no control of the outcome. My way of dealing with negative emotions was dishonest. For example, if someone cancelled plans with me at the last minute, I was usually disappointed and often rather annoyed. I would say it was fine and then be mad at myself for being so selfish and inflexible. Now I know it is ok to let the feelings of disappointment and annoyance move thru me while I choose to be polite to my friends because I recognize that they have busy lives, like I do, and things come up. So it doesn’t really change what I say to my friends, but it does change my attitude when I let myself have my feelings while choosing behavior that expresses who I am – loving, polite, tolerant, and flexible.

Does it seem at all presumptuous to identify myself as loving, polite, tolerant, and flexible? Before Fearless Living, it would have to me. Now I believe that deep inside this is the truth about each and every one of us. So why don’t we behave more lovingly, politely, and tolerantly and extend a bit more flexibility to ourselves and others? Because Fear has more ability to keep us safe, stuck, and small when we feel badly about ourselves than when we are comfortable with ourselves. Those stories about feelings of any kind being bad are just that: stories. Feelings are simply feelings and how we feel can change instantly and, when we can be compassionate and honest with ourselves, we can still take personal responsibility for our actions. When feelings rule our actions, Fear is in control.

What I like about Rhonda’s insistence that the compassion comes first, then the honesty, is that I am much less mean to myself. Also, when I remember the compassion part of the honesty piece, I am more willing to admit how I really feel or what I really want, and look at what is really going on. It helps me see thru the stories that I tell myself or that others are telling, and it reminds me to stick to my Intention.

Being compassionate as I’m being honest also helps me keep from attempting to take responsibility for things that are not my responsibility – how someone else responds – and focus on what I do have control over – how I want to be present in the moment.

Learning to let go of the idea that I must fix whatever is bugging people around me has been a huge boost to my peace of mind. I have had to learn to be honest with myself about my tendency to try to “fix” other people’s lives when I’m really just feeling like my own is beyond repair. My fear likes to tell me it’s easier to fix other people because as I look in from outside, it all seems so obvious and simple; but my own life was a tangle of confusion and exceptions. Once I realized this was really a story I told myself, and not the facts of the situation, it was easier both to let go of wanting to control others and be willing to dive into my own life and work it out on my own terms. I also had to drop some of the voices that I had picked up along the way that sounded reasonable, based on their back story, but that never really fit with what I wanted deep in my heart. Being honest about what I wanted, and learning that the voices shaming me for being me were not my own, was a huge step in lifting the rocks off my heart.

Are you comfortable telling yourself the truth? Do you judge your feelings? Do you ever beat yourself up for any reason? If the sequence of answers to those three questions is no, yes and yes, then perhaps you could find a greater level of comfort with yourself thru learning and applying the principles of being compassionate and then honest with yourself, freeing you to take personal responsibility – which includes not picking up responsibility for situations that are not your responsibility. Your success will also greatly increase when you seek help. Whether you ask a dear friend, join a group (such as a Fearless Living Book Group), or seek coaching or therapy, get help. As Rhonda Britten says, “No one can be fearless alone**.”


** Britten, Rhonda (2001) Fearless Living, New York, NY, Penguin Group (USA) Inc.