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FEB 2020. MONTHLY INSPIRATION
This Month: Truthfulness (Satya): Honesty is best policy.
Previous months: Monthly Inspiration.
How honest are you really towards others and yourself? A friend of mine once started an experiment. He wanted to try being honest the whole time. I’m saying ‘trying’ on purpose, because as he also expressed put it: “It’s almost impossible to be truly honest!”.
Now, is it truly that difficult? I think it is. To be truly honest is quite a challenge. We often lie to ourselves, tell half of the story, or make the truth prettier than it really is, don’t we? I like using affirmations, but am I not fooling myself in that way too? I believe honesty is best policy though!
Truthfulness is the second step among 10 so-called ‘steps’ which help you live life according to the Yoga ethics. Being truthful and thus honest is for me connected to Non-Violence (Ahimsa), the first Yoga ethical rule. To be really honest and to act from the heart, does ask for a lot of courage. It means more than just stop telling little lies. So how can you be honest without hurting other people, and at the same time take care of yourself?
Thus; … Ready for February’s theme?
Truthfulness (Satya) is what we will look at this month.
So, let’s take a look at Truthfulness closer to home.
How truthful are you towards yourself, others and the world?
Let’s look at:
Honesty is best policy
Yoram Mosenzon from ‘Connecting2life’ taught me and the other participants on the course that Non-Violent Communication is the way to be honest from a place of love and respect. He showed us how we can learn to feel what is present in ourselves and he showed us the differences between emotions (sensations), feelings (judged emotions), thoughts (interpretations of what we sense and feel) and judgements. We also looked at the difference between needs and strategies. All with the goal to teach us how to express ourselves from a place of honesty and compassion and communicate (and live) non-violently.
Did you hear about Non-Violent Communication before? Read on. What are the steps of Non-Violent Communication? These are the steps to take:
- Observe and begin your conversation with a neutral observation.
- Describe your emotions. Explain how this makes you feel and what thought come up.
- Express the needs that are hidden behind what you sense, feel and think.
- Make a request. For example: “Can you tell me what you’ve heard me say, so that I know whether you’ve understood me?”.
Would you like to know more about this 4-part process? Check NVC’s 4-part process.
Non-Violent Communication can be a tool to be more truthful. Is it that simple? Yes, but believe me, it takes a whole lot of practice to get it right. Why is it then still so difficult to be honest? Non-Violent Communication is a wonderful tool, only I have noticed it is still very difficult to apply it. Sometimes I just want to get my message across (and don’t we all), but if the person I am speaking to might not be ready to hear it. So, it will fall on deaf ears.
Imagine I am talking to Hugo (my husband) and he’s all caught up in his own world (emotions, feelings and thoughts. He will then not hear what I am saying. As we learned during the course Hugo will only hear me, when he feels understood. Meaning I first have to check-in with how he’s doing and whether he’s ready to hear what I have to share. If I don’t do that, we are both going to feel misunderstood and feel frustrated, irritable and unhappy.
Let’s say he’s ready to hear me, how honest can I be? I believe we are sometimes afraid to hurt the other person with the truth and thus we choose to adapt our story. Why don’t we share with the other person what’s really on our mind? I have always been taught that in the long run the truth will emerge. Thus, it makes sense to be honest from the start? As Yoram taught us, it is possible.
“This example shows me that we need to be truthful and that we need to be truly honesty. Not as a strategy to get what you want, BUT to honour your own deepest needs and wishes”.
My personal experience with Non-Violent Communication and honesty? When Hugo and I started dating, I told him at a certain point: “It is either me or dating who you’d like to date, but I am not going sit here and wait until you make up your mind!”. Okay, I hadn’t practiced bringing it more non-violently yet, but it was definitely very honest.
We often look back at this event. His response up to this day still is: “Only when you showed me what my behaviour made you feel like and when you expressed your need to date me exclusively or not at all, only then I was able to truly see you for who you are. That was also the moment I completely fell in love with you. It made me see the other side of you too and that was needed for me to say YES! to our relationship!”.
This example shows me that we need to be truthful and that we need to be truly honesty. Not as a strategy to get what you want, BUT to honour your own deepest needs and wishes.
In my situation it worked to be truthful. I was given what I asked for, an exclusive relationship with the love of my life. Only I also know that asking for what I need, doesn’t mean my need will always be met. We people think in strategies. We think that if we choose the right strategy, our needs will be met. Wrong. This is not how it works.
There are 1000 ways to fulfil a need and not everybody will recognize the need behind our strategy. Can you read minds? I know some of us do, but most of us simply don’t. What about expressing yourself using the tool of Non-Violent Communication? What about learning to express what is alive in you and what you need most given your situation? I believe that’s the best way to live truthfully. It is not said to be an easy road, but I am sure it is the one that honours you most.
Truthfulness | Reflective questions
How to work with the theme yourself? Get a notebook, dedicate it to answering the questions I will ask you each month regarding the monthly theme and see where that will lead you. Simply allow yourself to explore the topics.
Body | Mind | Spirit
Regarding the areas in your life, you can think about how you treat your psychical body and whether you allow yourself to notice the sensations in your body (emotions). Think about the thoughts and feelings (= labelled and judged emotions) that keep you busy (at night) and think about your overall mood, attitude and character (spirit) towards life. So, look at Truthfulness at the following levels:
- Body (physical body + sensations)
- Mind (feelings + thoughts)
- Spirit (mood, attitude and character)
Yourself | Others | The World
Also, interesting to keep in mind is, what would you wish for:
- The people around you (the people you know)
- The world (people you don’t know)
You could go back to Walkabout 1 (January) and answer the reflective questions on Non-Violence for the theme of this month. Just replace the theme of Non-Violence by the theme of this month ‘Truthfulness’. Or work with these next questions. It’s simply another approach. See what works best for you.
Take some time to answer the following reflective questions:
- Who speaks truthfully according to you? You can choose people you know and/or don’t know personally, like a public figure or writer perhaps.
- If you chose a person/people you know well, ask him/her whether you could have a conversation about what it means to be truthful. Interview him/her with the goal to find out as much as possible on how you could become more truthful yourself.
- If you chose a person/people you don’t know personally, perhaps you could still arrange to interview him/her in person, or over the phone or by e-mail. If that doesn’t work, make a list yourself of what you see this person do. How does this person approach Truthfulness according to you and what are you learning from it?
- A question structure I find useful is linked to the past, present and future situation.
- How did you deal with […………] in the past? / How did […………] show up in your life in the past?
- How do you deal with […………] at the moment? / How does […………] show up in your life at the moment?
- What’s your intention regarding […………] in the (near) future? / How would you like […………] to show up in your life at in the (near) future?
- Is there anything else that comes to mind? Just write it down.
Looking back at what you wrote down: What’s most evident? …
Or in other words: What became clear to you and what did you learn from this experience?
Don’t forget the following steps:
- Thank yourself for daring to strike up this conversation. Go celebrate.
- Thank the other person for his/her time. Ask what you could do in return. Do this!
- Make it an exchange that is beneficial for both.
- Put your most important insights somewhere as a reminder. These are your trophies.
Becoming more truthful towards others really is a process about daring to be truly honest towards yourself about what’s going on inside of you. Here are some tips on listening to your deepest needs and wishes. Only when you know what it is that you truly need, can you start communicating your truth. And this always goes hand in hand with Non-Violence (January’s topic).
Tips for more Truthfulness
- They say that what we see around ourselves, is merely a reflection of what’s alive in ourselves. What do you see around you? What’s the general feeling you get when you look at where you live, what’s around you, how you spend your time and who you spend your time with? Could it be that it is reflection of what’s present inside of you? And if so, what’s your inner world like?
- A great way ‘in’, thus to what’s present inside of you and knowing what you are feeling and thinking is to have a conversation with yourself on paper. Yes, like writing to your best and/or worst part of yourself. You can give that other side of you a name or simply put pen to paper and start writing: “Hello you, tell me. What’s happening?”. Listen for the answers. And keep asking this same question on and on and keep writing down the answers. Only when you hear what’s alive in you, can you start to take appropriate action.
- A variation to the previous exercise is this one. I like saying: “Hey Soul, there’s something I have been meaning to ask you for a while. Can you help me here?”. Same idea. Have a conversation with yourself. Main thing you’re trying to find out is: “How truthful (honest) do you think I am towards myself, others and the world?”.
- Go on an ‘emotional walkabout’ or find another self-enquiry method that works for you. This exercise is a method developed Bija Bennett. Hence, it inspired me to take you on a Yearly Walkabout. In her method you answer 7 questions regarding your situation and the 8th step lets you feel your answers. It always works for me. I find that the Emotional Walkabout exercise gets me straight to the core of it all. You can find the exercise in Bija’s blog. Go here.
- Another exercise I like. Every time I have to make a choice, I ask myself: “If I could be truly honest, and speak from the heart, what would my answer be to this question/request/situation?”. Try it too. And then think about it. And if you were to express it out-loud, could you use the method of Non-Violent Communication? Prepare for the moment you will express your needs. Practice it on paper first or with a friend. Give it a try. Answer the question and write your message down by following the steps of Non-Violent Communication.
Last, but not least, truthfulness comes with practice. Perhaps you and I have to develop certain skills first, before we be can more truthful. An important skill we can practice ourselves first is to look within. I hope the tips on this page helped for that!
Good to know!
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With love and care,
Marianne de Kuyper
P.S. I’m a Dutch girl going global. Even though I reread everything multiple times, my apologies in case I’ve made a language mistake somewhere. Just e-mail me about it. I’ll be happy to adjust it (if I can) and learn from it!
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// I, Marianne (founder) am a Dutch girl going global. Even though (the team and) I reread everything multiple times, my apologies in case I’ve made a language mistake somewhere. Just e-mail me about it. I’ll be happy to adjust it if I can and learn from it! //