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"We are men of action, lies do not become us"

“We are men of action, lies do not become us” is one of my favorite lines of the movie, “Princess Bride.” It’s not one of the main lines usually quoted, so if you’re not remembering it, no worries! For you women out there, we can make a simple substitution and stick “women” in place of “men” and voilà, it applies to all of us! Let’s talk a little bit about how the truth really does set us free.

How many times have you said (or thought) something to convince yourself of something you didn’t fully believe, but thought it was “right” to believe? Have you chosen to not be completely honest in a response to someone to avoid a possible sadness or anger reaction? I would venture to guess most people have done so at least once. Often, when we do this, there is this uneasy knot-like feeling in your core because you know deep down it’s not really true. Or you realize you’re justifying a little lie to spare someone’s feelings or to look good in front of others.

In case you’re wondering what in the world I’m talking about. Let me give you a few examples from my own recent insights that may trigger some similar situations in your life.

Let’s start with the mom-card. Almost every mom on the planet wants to be a “good mom” in hopes of not “ruining” her child/children. I was going to be the best mom in the world. I had a plan! I read all the parenting books (ok, maybe not ALL, but plenty of them). I watched moms that seemed to have it down. I asked pro-moms how they did this or that. Then I had kids, and they did not act, react, or do what I had expected they would! There weren’t enough books with the answers to each situation that came up. There was conflicting information out there – which one was right?! I told myself I was a good mom. I mean, if desire was the only qualifier, I was definitely a good mom!

Because I’m often taken captive by BWTS (Black & White Thinking Susceptibility), in my mind, you were either a good mom or a bad mom. As long as the “good” had more tally marks than the “bad,” I could be a good mom, right? But any time I tried to convince myself I was more on the “good mom” side, my brain would come up with overwhelming amounts of incriminating evidence to the contrary.

Years later I heard a coach and mentor of mine say, “truth is, I’m a good mom AND a bad mom.” What?! You’re allowed to be BOTH?! The instantaneous freedom that enveloped my whole being from hearing that statement was life altering. The truth had set me free. It seems so obvious, why did I get so stuck on OR, when AND is so freeing? Our society conditions us on being one or the other. I’m now giving myself permission to have my cake and eat it too!

Here is a second example that is even more recent. My husband and I cared for my dear, aging mother who had dementia. I think because my mom has deep seeded beliefs of not wanting to be a burden on someone, she rarely let us know her needs, which actually made caring for her more difficult. I was commenting to my husband that if I could just convince my mom she wasn’t a burden, maybe she would articulate her needs more.

When we deny our truths, there arises an inner conflict within our bodies that we are often not even cognizant of. As I articulated that thought to my husband, I recognized that “internal inner conflict” and decided to explore what it was about.

The truth is, my mom was a burden at times. When I acknowledged that truth, I experienced my body open to the feeling of freedom again. The truth had set me free.

My first reaction was, “that’s a horrible thing to think!” How many times do we deny truth because we think it makes us a “bad person” for having such thoughts? How about if it can just make us human?! And where did the idea that a burden is a bad thing, come from? Is it just me? Society? Religion? A burden isn’t a “bad thing.” It’s just a “thing” and that doesn’t mean I don’t want it.

There are a lot of things in this life that could be considered “burdens” to bear, but that doesn’t mean we aren’t willing, and often, even wanting to bear them! Caring for my mom was a burden at times, but I was also honored to be able to serve her and give back in a small way for all the burdens she had borne for me and because of me. In my opinion, carrying a burden willingly is one of the greatest gifts we can give.

Start to notice when you think or say something that causes you to feel a little “off” inside. Give honest reflection to whether you are allowing the truth or are lying to yourself (or someone else) to fit social, political, familial, or religious expectations and norms.

Let’s start to allow our humanness by acknowledging, then accepting the truth. In many societies, we are taught to not “hurt other’s feelings,” and we often deny our truths. We certainly don’t have to hurl every perceived truth we have out in the open, but at least acknowledge our truth within ourselves.

For me, and I suspect the same might be true for you, when I lie to myself or others, I put myself in at least a temporary bondage of sorts. The feeling of dishonesty does not bring out my best self. I would venture to say that much of this dishonesty slides right by us and we’re not even aware of it. Most of the time it isn’t conscious or intentional fibberies (made up word for multiple fibs). That’s why it’s important to recognize the “breach of integrity” feeling we get in our body.

I’m turning to the toddlers for great examples again. My grandson, who was four years old at the time, has a daddy that runs a zoo/refuge facility. This grandson has inherited a love of animals and he frequents dad’s work quite often. This 4-year-old grandson also loves this grandma (and grandpa). Unfortunately, this family is just under 2,000 miles away. His daddy was offered a job that would have put them closer to 30 miles away. When the 4-year-old was asked if he wanted to stay by the zoo or move closer to grandma and grandpa, he simply said, “the zoo.” He didn’t feel the need to filter his answer to spare anyone’s feelings. He just stated his truth. At that moment in time, the zoo was pretty compelling and just because he didn’t want to leave the zoo didn’t mean he loves his grandparents any less. As I thought about this, what would be a common reaction on my part? It might be to tease the 4-year-old and with a pouty face say, “you love the zoo more than grandma?!” and then proceed to fake cry. This is how we begin to teach our children to deny their truths in order to please other people. It takes some real concentration to not fall into those default patterns, but it’s also something I’ve been trying to be aware of. My response to him choosing the zoo was simply, “the zoo is a pretty cool place, huh?” In that moment I was able to support his current truth and not manipulate that truth. Now if only I could be consistent with it!

If someone asks me to do something, and I really want to help that person, answering, “I’d love to” is a great answer. If I’d rather not do what someone has asked me, but I want to show love for the person, I may respond with, “for you, I’ll do it!” And sometimes folks, the answer “no” is appropriate and loving. Loving to yourself, your truth and even the other person. An appropriate “no” can help us avoid resentment.

Now, go experience the truth setting YOU free because “lies do not become us,” and share those experiences in the comments.

High Five!


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