October 14, 2012 ~ Honest Self-Expression

Sunday, October 14, 2012 ~ Honest Self-Expression

Heartfelt Communication‘s Jeff Brown quotes from Neale Donald Walsch at the beginning of the clip beneath, “As long as we’re afraid of being hurt by the truth, we’re going to lie.  And while we don’t like it, we will tolerate an entire society built on lies.  Yet it is society’s refusal to become truthful that causes most of the pain society is forced to endure and the vicious circle is complete.  We sidestep the truth, the whole truth, and nothing but the truth in an effort to avoid pain and yet, in the process, we cause pain.”

(scroll down to bottom of post for more topical YouTube NVC & Honesty clips)

Last week, during my exploration of Ahimsa (or Nonviolence), I penned an anecdote in which a beloved teacher and scholar of Gandhi conveyed a thought-provoking quote:

“It is better to be violent, if there is violence in our hearts, than to put on the cloak of nonviolence to cover impotence.” ~ Mahatma Gandhi

Another quote that has haunted me, in this instance for much of my adult life, by Adrienne Rich seems relevant to the practice of NVC/Street Giraffe (not to mention our societal landscape, more broadly).

Adrienne Rich

“Lying is done with words, and also with silence.”

―   Adrienne Rich, Women and Honor: Some Notes on Lying

Let me begin with a bit of my own ‘jackal truth’ with reference to our current political landscape (Giraffe honesty vs. Jackal honesty – NVCWiki):

During the Vice Presidential Debate, on Thursday night, the country witnessed a (tactical? psychoanalytically-driven? i.e. Obama’s Bipartisan Disorder via the author of  Obama on the Couch) shift captured in headlines such as Joe Biden Dispenses With the Niceties (in stark contrast to his boss the week before, Barry Trails Off . . .).  In the wake of Obama having the wind taken out of his sails, Biden offered a rejuvenating gust.  But why Obama’s lackluster debate mediocrity? [Charlie RoseAnalysis of Presidential Debate]

And does Gandhi’s better-to-be-violent-if-violence-is-in one’s-heart quote have any light to shed?

All of this to say that while considering our next call, after settling on the topic of expression (vis-a-vis the three choices of self-connection/empathy/expression within the context of the Flow of Communication), I couldn’t help but be reminded of last week’s  post/discussion as to the distinction between the ‘mechanical’ (read, deferential ‘Obama’) verses the more authentic, even if occasionally feather-ruffling, self-expressive (read, ‘Biden’).  Indeed, the inquiry crossed my mind as to whether Obama was ‘putting on the cloak of nonviolence to cover impotence’ (through his silent, ‘mechanical-pseudo-empathic’ complicity — i.e. the President,”I suspect that on Social Security we’ve got a somewhat similar position.” —  with Etch A Sketch Mitt Romney), whilst Biden’s ‘violence in the heart’ was on display, in stark contrast, while debating Ryan.  In other words, whether these debate performances might be an illustrative study in the energetic appeal of Satya (or truth) that Gandhi so revered…

It’s been said that Obama has disdain for Romney (which he apparently didn’t have for his former rival, the war-hero McCain).  Thus it could be construed — mine own hypothesis — that what was born witness to this past week is a study of contrasts in the tactic of suppression/repression or ‘stepping-over’ (‘Obama’) verses a more direct engagement with or confrontational expression (‘Biden’) perhaps most especially of that which may get beneath the proverbial skin.

When Did Obama Lose “the Vision Thing”?

 Ezra Klein, Washington Post:  That Obama lost the first debate because he didn’t seem sufficiently psyched to be there is probably partially true, but it’s also a form of flattery. It says, in effect, that Obama’s only problem was the superficiality of the format and Mitt Romney’s untruths. Obama was just too deep and too thoughtful and too honest to win.  Perhaps unsurprisingly, Obama buys into it. “I do think that on television it was clear that I was being too restrained when Mr. Romney was telling his tall tales,” he told a Miami radio host. “But the truth is, when you read the transcript, everything I said was true and a lot of what he said was not.”  But when I went back and read the transcript — thus removing appearance and tone and body language from the equation altogether — it was clear that Obama had lost the debate at least partly because he didn’t know what he wanted to say.

So how do you you deal with that which gets under your skin? 

Do you, too, become tongued-tied (in the face of an abundance of stimulation and paucity of self-connection)?  Why do so many of us, like Obama, resist the role of Jiminy Cricket — the conscience/truth-teller — far too often (and how might the practice of ‘compassionate communication’ enable this, emphasizing the default mode of empathy at the expense of honesty)?  What happens in that moment of choice when we might lean towards  suppression of our own truth rather than honest self-expression (offers insight as to how crucial Connecting with Ourselves  can be to the dance of honest self-expression, see also:  Practices for Integrating NVC)?

I once noted my own deer-in-headlights-frozeness, during a heightened moment of outrage, baffled at my seeming lack of options.  An NVC instructor suggested that this might be the moment to voice an observation…

Offered in the Spirit of Observation:


Jeff Brown on Honesty & NVC – YouTube

Author of Don’t Be Nice, Be Real

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