Let’s be honest, there’s lots to think about these days. We’re bombarded with boisterous politicians throwing food at walls, abortion threats, fire season, constant troubling news, and the high cost of everything.
It’s more than enough to chew on, maybe that’s why I chipped a tooth (and it takes two months to see a dentist.) Anyway, here’s what I’m thinking a lot about lately: we can’t just blame politicians, wagging our fingers at their proclivity to pummel each other, if we are living dishonest lives ourselves. We can grit our teeth at authorities’ berserk mistakes and wonder about their pointed guns and penis envy. Granted, there’s plenty of unethical and cruel activity going on. But, if we can’t mend our own fences at home, we aren’t making the mess any better.
When we are slippery in our own encounters, we prevent integrity and unification amongst ourselves. As we repair our relationships – the fabric of our communities won’t unravel, we’ll collaborate better. Can we stop lies and conspiracies in our own lives? Are these bickering politicians a bit like us?
Sometimes we say, “pick your battles” or ask, “why bother?” Whether we grumble at friends behind their backs, complain about partners, family, or co-workers, most of us tend toward being secretive, critical, or ghosting. So, why not be honest, clear the air, just “do it?” Simple, it’s scary as hell.
As long as we rely on gossip or shutting down we create a collective state of incongruity and discombobulation. We dismantle and fragment our “power as a people.” We simply can’t mobilize positive movement without genuine connection.
Honesty and integrity will get us more connection, cohesion, and cooperation. By the way, a few tools can tilt discord towards mutual understanding – using “I” statements without blame, self-disclosure (talking about why you feel the way you do, why it matters to you, more authenticity and revealing of yourself), instead of YOU words. These shifts help a lot and deep, deep listening with more curiosity. Building bridges and brave, delicate dialogues call for careful words.
The other night I risked it. I told a friend how I had interpreted some of his recent facial mannerisms and comments. I prepared for combat, convinced he was judging me and full of stories in my head about what he was thinking. I was ready for a persnickety argument and defense about why I am the way I am. After releasing my “stress hairball” he stood there with a blank stare, mouth hanging open. He muffled a nervous giggle while I waited breathlessly for the confrontation I had planned in my head for weeks.
He didn’t have any of the thoughts I thought he did! (I even pushed the point to make sure he wasn’t just trying to be nice.) My sphincter muscles relaxed! New circulation replaced tension. As Jeremy Lent wrote, “Each of us has a part to play in weaving that web of vital synergy…An ecological civilization will emerge only when the symbiotic linkages between people become a more powerful force than the competitive impulses engendered by the dominant culture. Each of us has a part to play in weaving that web of vital synergy.”
Does the big lie exist everywhere?
Katy Byrne, MA, LMFT has been a licensed Marriage and Family Therapist in Sonoma and the Bay Area for 35 years. She’s written two books: The Courage to Speak Up and The Power of Being Heard. Conversationswithkaty.com. 707.548.8982