Dedication to Truth versus A Dedication to Anything Less


Authenticity is a collection of choices that we have to make every day. It’s about the choice to show up and be real. The choice to be honest. The choice to let our true selves be seen.” – Brene Brown, The Gifts of Imperfection, pg. 49.

We know we’re getting healthier as a person when we can start admitting the truth about ourselves—and about our own falseness—aloud, and not only to ourselves but to others.

The quickest and surest—as well as toughest and most demanding—route to mental health is to dedicate ourselves fearlessly and fiercely to truth and to reality—to the way things really are, and to the way we actually are.

The goal at first isn’t to change ourselves, because such attempts at changing ourselves will be inherently flawed until we have made it a real priority to dedicate ourselves to truth– and to practice choosing and living this priority so often, so fearlessly, so ruthlessly, that it becomes second nature to us.

If a person truly wants to “wake up” in life and not die asleep and die an unlived inner life, then complete dedication to reality and to truth is the answer—it is both the path and the destination.  That is the essence of waking up—seeing the truth about ourselves and having the courage to finally admit it; no more bullshit, instead a fierce and unceasing dedication to truth and reality. Waking up means that we are seeing ourselves and reality and our lot here for what it is, and that we’re not escaping behind a façade of religious dogma, new age pablum, and other escapist avenues (i.e. drugs, even so-called “enlightenment” type drugs, which ultimately too are an escape and an avoidance of the rigors of real growth).

The most pivotal and life altering decision we as human beings can make in life is this most basic one—to voluntarily give up our illusions, buffers, deceptions, bullshit, softeners, and start taking a fierce and hard-nosed look at ourselves, our fears, and life itself—including death—and no hiding out from death behind the hope for reincarnation or an afterlife—because to do so is not to live the question, but to uncourageously avoid asking it.

As we begin admitting the truth about ourselves and our fears and about life to both ourselves and to others our life and our relationships will begin undergoing a powerful and radical transformation, for instead of our daily life and our daily interactions being based on comfort, escapism, avoidance, psychological numbing, hedonism, they will now begin to be based on truth and grounded in reality.

I read (scan) a fair amount of blogs, especially some where I know the person writing it has a form of mental illness. And in very few—make that almost none—do I find the level of fierce dedication to truth that I am describing here—posts where the author takes real responsibility using “I” statement to describe in lurid detail the bad things that they have done. There are plenty of posts on the bad things that have been done unto them—and some of these things are indeed hideous—but few to no posts describing their own errors and the wrongs they have perpetrated on others. Too often instead there are posts full of rationalizations and excuse-making with lots of supportive “I understand”s and such—which all makes sense because we live in a culture where “nonjudgmentalness” and “acceptance” and “tolerance” are king, and where our wrongs can be explained away and excused because of this or that past trauma, and where we all need some emotional support and validation—no matter how questionable to source—if we are to feel OK enough to make it through the day without collapsing or having a nervous breakdown.

There are very few real truth tellers and very few people fearlessly and fiercely dedicated to truth and reality. Most people are dedicated to something much less—and much less honorable and noble—comfort, convenience, location location location, ease, “happiness,” pleasure, hedonism, the path of least resistance, avoiding truth, and avoiding difficulty. And so if we sense that we “need” support and validation in order to make it through the day and not collapse psychologically then we have yet another reason to dummy ourselves and our capacity for truth and reality down in order to “fit in” and gain approval, acceptance, validation, support.

What use is it if a person gains the world—or gains a lot of emotional support and validation—yet loses his or her soul?

And all of the psychological explaining away that we as a species do is stultifying our character and retarding the development of our consciences. It is not the route to real mental health and true personal growth; instead it’s just a perpetuation and deepening of mental unhealth.

The twelve steps are a way of life based on truth and dedication to reality.  The twelve steps basically reduce to this:

1. Admit the truth. Admit the truth that you’re an addict; admit what you’re addicted to—alcohol, drugs, sex, lying & manipulating; admit that you’re helpless to overcome this on your own; admit that you’re your own worst enemy; admit that your own “best” thinking and efforts haven’t made a dent in this and in fact usually make it worse; admit that you need help.

To be able to cleanly admit all of this is an example of dedication to truth and dedication reality in action.

And such a moment is not enough. It has to be done again and again and again. It has to become a way of life. It has to be practiced constantly and unceasingly until it becomes habit, second nature, one’s new nature.

2. And then this truth has to be admitted or confessed to others in the form of our taking a searching and fearless moral inventory, admitting our wrongs—not just to ourselves, but to others—to those we actually wronged, lied to, stole from, used, et cetera—and then humbling ourselves and making real amends—doing some real repair work and making our contrition, showing real remorse and sorrow, and asking forgiveness.

All of which is incredibly difficult. Which explains why there is so little of it (truth, remorse, honesty) in general in the real world.

It’s easier to lie and bullshit ourselves and live in denial of our own mortality and transience when we’re surrounded by others basically doing the same—escaping life, escaping stress, escaping anxiety, reading shitty escapist books and magazines, having gossipy trivial conversations, et cetera.

The vast majority of human beings would prefer to be validated for their bullshit rather than be ostracized for being too truthful and too truth-loving.

And so the decline of Western civilization and the perpetuation and spread of mental illness and unhealth. . . .

Escape sells, reality doesn’t.

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20 thoughts on “Dedication to Truth versus A Dedication to Anything Less

  1. Pingback: A Dedication to Truth versus A Dedication to Anything Less | What Is Real True Love?

  2. Reblogged this on Honestgoodadvice's Blog and commented:
    At first, I was a bit upset, that this blog was a rather judgemental of other writers and bloggers that are attempting to be supportive and spread love and acceptance. However, as I read further I realized they were speaking of truth in a matter of being an addict (drugs, sex, etc). Not to say that there are not a lot of people who are addicted to their work, a certain life style, a person…. I think that everyone has their own path and will learn/reflect upon themselves in thier own time and thier own way. I get the frustration of doing a lot of work and then realizing that so many others are living in the dark. But the point is there has to be acceptance- if not you end up judging those around you for being who you once were… A bit hypocritcal. No one is perfect. All we can do is try our best to become the best version of ourselves. Maybe we will get find the ultimate truth or maybe we will choose to live whatever lives we decide upon living. At the end of the day we all have a choice. Live in it, bask in it, but at the same time do your best not to judge others for they have walked a different path other than your own. And who knows…maybe they know a truth that you have yet to stumble upon.

  3. Honestgoodadvice was very kind and liked this post enough to reblog it. 🙂

    The only problem is that my comment and clarification to her was likely sent to her spam folder (thanks WordPress! lol) and past experience is that many bloggers don’t check their spam folders and some of my comments are lost and the conversation ends.

    So I want to use this comment here to first thank Honestgoodadvice for reblogging my post. So thank you to HonestGoodAdvice! 🙂

    And secondly to be able to actually post my clarification and comment.

    So this is what HonestGoodAdvice wrote in her reblog

    At first, I was a bit upset, that this blog was a rather judgemental of other writers and bloggers that are attempting to be supportive and spread love and acceptance. However, as I read further I realized they were speaking of truth in a matter of being an addict (drugs, sex, etc). Not to say that there are not a lot of people who are addicted to their work, a certain life style, a person…. I think that everyone has their own path and will learn/reflect upon themselves in their own time and their own way. I get the frustration of doing a lot of work and then realizing that so many others are living in the dark. But the point is there has to be acceptance- if not you end up judging those around you for being who you once were… A bit hypocritical. No one is perfect. All we can do is try our best to become the best version of ourselves. Maybe we will get to find the ultimate truth or maybe we will choose to live whatever lives we decide upon living. At the end of the day we all have a choice. Live in it, bask in it, but at the same time do your best not to judge others for they have walked a different path other than your own. And who knows…maybe they know a truth that you have yet to stumble upon.”

    And I get her concerns. I do. But I am a person who has read Krishnamurti and Nietzsche and Peck and I have read them and their ilk for years. And I also like Gordon Ramsey and Simon Cowell and Robert Irvine. And so while I have no stomach (or indulgence) for the bitterness of red wine and liquor, but I have developed a taste for truth and I tend to favor truth straight up, no holds barred.

    So this was my response–

    Thank you for the reblog 🙂 That is very kind of you.

    And I dislike the term “judgmental.” I prefer the term critical thinker or thinking critically, which to my mind is always a very good thing if it is done honestly AND impartially–meaning we’re willing to look at ourselves honestly as well as what we’re criticizing. the term judgmental seems to mean that the judger isn’t willing to look at him or herself, and that may be true. And so that is the real issue–not that the person is judging, but that the person is judging unfairly, unevenly, in a biased fashion.

    One of the things that I think this day and age suffers from is from a lack of good sound judgment (or “discernment”). We as a species tend not to be very discerning; we seem to be fairly gullible and naive. And I think much of this has to do with the fact that critical thinking and seeking truth are not encouraged and have fallen out of practice. The practice of seeking truth means at times making judgments about ourselves and about others and about what is and is not worth pursuing or worth our time. To become the best or near-best version of ourselves requires knowing what the not best version of ourselves looks like and talks like and acts like. As Schnarch put it, “Only the best in us can talk about the worst in us; what’s worst in us lies about itself and its own existence.” Definitely something to pause on and ponder for a bit. Behind all of the fog and the masks we wear (the false selves), there is something in us (in most of us? in some of us?) that recognizes truth when it reads it or sees it and rejoices in it and craves it and wants to live in the open from our depths, from our soul. Our soul, our core has to be nurtured and kindled into existence. As Emerson put it: “The one thing in the world of value is the active soul—the soul, free, sovereign, active. This every person is entitled to; this every person contains within him, although in almost everyone it is obstructed, and as yet unborn.”

    I am betting my life that part of what activates the soul is truth—seeking it, recognizing it, discovering it, discussing it, debating it, applying it, living it, seeking others who are also dedicated to it, establishing relationships based on it.

    Last point about judging others—sometimes we learn about our own best and worst by seeing it first a distance in others. And then we have to do something that is essential—we have to try our own judgments on ourselves for size and see if we’re projecting and rejecting others for what we ought to be rejecting and correcting in ourselves. The idea being that facing ourselves honestly is one of the most difficult things in life to do. And so observing others (even critically/judgmentally) and seeing their mistakes as well as their victories over what’s not best (or what’s worst) in themselves can teach us a lot about ourselves and what we like need to deal with ourselves as well.

    Kindest regards, and thank you for the reblog,

    John

    • Thank you persuaded2go for reading and for commenting. 🙂 And here’s the thing, I think we’re all mentally ill to the degree that (A) we’re not dedicated to truth and reality, but prefer escape and fantasy and illusions and self-deception, and (B) we’re not living a life based on well-thoughtout life principles but instead just living a reactive emotional life and foresaking our conscience and capacity for thinking widely and long-range as well as honestly and critically. The less we care about truth and about being truthful with ourselves and others, then likely the more mentally ill we are. Mentally unhealthy people tend to keep a lot (A LOT) of secrets, wear many masks, have many faces, be chameleons, etc. Mental unhealth thrives on secrecy, deception, compartmentalization, a lack of integrity or integration.

      And so the way out of any mental illness is to fiercely dedicate ourselves to the truth (which the greater our mental unhealth, the more difficult and even “toxic” feeling this will be–the cure will feel worse than the disease or pathology we have), and to surround ourselves with those who are also fiercely dedicated to the truth and to value their support and encouragement and validation more than those who want to validate what’s worst and weakest in us (our capacity for lying, deception, wearing masks, taking the path of least resistance, etc).

      I hope this finds you well, and thank you for commenting and reading, persuaded2go (do you have another name you go by?). Warmest regards,

      John

      • This is SO PROFOUND to me and very much where I am at right now…I wish I could reblog your comments 🙂 I DO go by another name, but I keep it a secret in the blogging world because I am recovering from an emotional affair (and the compartmentalization and other deception issues you mentioned), and most people in my world don’t know about it. My husband and I are recovering, but sometimes I wonder if one of the steps of my recovery will be telling everyone. We have been advised against it as it is usually difficult for others to move on, when you are long past it.

      • Hello Persuaded2go,

        First off, you are welcome to copy my comments and post them on your blog and perhaps just add a link back to this thread.

        Secondly, the idea of telling “everyone” seems a bit, well, odd to me. And it’s certainly not what I’m suggesting in this post or thread. For me, the way to recover from an affair or from any break (or violation) of trust is to show real remorse and regret, and to do real repair work so that you can re-earn and redevelop trust. Trust in essential to the health of a relationship. Personally, in my own life, I spent almost three years with a woman I could not trust and who it turns out had had no interest in becoming either trustworthy or healthy (so why did I stay so long? Not because I’m a martyr, but because they were three children involved–not mine–but their dad had died, and their mom has BPD [borderline, not bipolar] as well as signs of PTSD and Antisocial Personality Disorder, and even though I have undergrad degrees in psychology and philosophy and have read plenty, alas, the map is not the territory, and so I had no idea what BPD looked like and walked and talked like in real life, so I really had no idea what I was dealing with. Plus when she was acting a certain way–what I considered to be sane and normal, I was smitten with her and believed in her and thought there might be hope for her. Alas there doesn’t seem to be any hope.) And trust is essential to the health of a relationship. If there is not trust–including transparency, honesty, the capacity to have difficult conversations–then a relationship is really not a real relationship but rather a sham and a relationship of convenience where one person is exploiting the other or both people are temporarily using and exploiting each other before moving on to greener pastures and new victims.

        So anyways . . . trust. If you’ve had an emotional affair, then my standard advice is (assuming your husband isn’t legitimately abusive (different than what Schnarch terms “normal marital sadism” which is how two people get revenge on each other, which is usually passive-aggressively, but sometimes the aggressiveness isn’t so passive and can be more verbal and even get close to being more–throwing things, breaking things, acting out, etc) or an alcoholic/drug addict) for you to figure out why you did it–not only in terms of what your husband wasn’t giving you and what the other guy seemed to be offering you, but what lead you to it, both psychologically as well as (and this is important) morally–i.e. were there shortfalls in your character, conscience, virtues, et cetera? Which usually does turn out to be the case, and so these things will need to be addressed and righted/corrected.

        And so this is part of making amends–taking a searching and fearless moral inventory, taking responsibility for what you term and seeing it terms of how it speaks to your character and conscience. Making ammends and re-earning and re-establishing trustworthiness, especially by being transparent and very open with your husband. As far as everyone else, I’m just not sure how it’s any of their business. You weren’t married to them. You were married to your husband. He’s the one you made promises to, promises that were about trust and moral goodness and fidelity and loyalty, et cetera, as well as Loving him–not necessarily feeling loving towards him, because feeling can’t be promised, but being loving towards him, cherishing him, wanting the best for him, and promising to act in this way (I think marriage vows would be much more relevant if they did say something along these lines–I promise to Love you even when I’m not feeling particularly loving, in fact even when I’m feelin bitchy or grumpy or whatever men and women feel that prevents them from giving the gift of their best self to one another and to the relationship.)

        Warmest regards, p2g,

        John

  4. I love how your writing stimulates and provokes thought and change. Have been contemplating your latest readings much. The contemplating has left me in a murk, as seeking out and facing personal truths using does. Really appreciate your thoughts and sharing, John, and especially the ongoing theme of truth.

    • Hello Julie,

      I’m glad to hear that you are finding my writing/thinking stimulating and provoking not only of thought but of actual change, and possibly even “growth”? Because that is the ultimate desire that I have for my writing–that it helps to facilitate actual real growth and maturation/deepening, the best type of which I think is a moment of “satori” (a large wattage lightbulb moment, the type where scales fall from one’s eyes, the type that effects a figure-ground reversal in the way one looks at things, the type where once you’ve seen something you can never go back to unseeing it no matter how hard you try, that type that basically take one’s thinking to a whole new and higher level) or a “metanoia” (a paradigmatic shift, a change of heart and mind and life direction from one of knowingly or unknowingly living exclusively for the self, to one that transcends the self or ego).

      That is the ultimate goal of my writing and thinking. It happened for me, and I know some of the things I was doing at the time that seemed to have helped facilitate it, and so using my blogs I try to pass on some of those things.

      And three of the biggest things that I was doing in the time preceding my Jerry Maguire (“breakdown, breakthrough . . . “) massive lightbulb moment back in the summer of ’97 was that I was reading a lot of M. Scott Peck, Dr. Laura (I kid you not! Her first two books [“How Could You Do That!?” and “10 Stupid Things Women Do To Mess Up their Lives“] are off the charts fantastic; the ones that have come after it are nowhere remotely near the genius of the first two. And I rarely mention Dr. Laura because so many people dislike her and her tone and parts of her message so angrily that it’s the like dealign with racism or any other -ism; reason just does not seem to be an option in terms of having a discussion. And I will admit that before I read those two books in the summer of ’97 I, too, intensely disliked her radio program–I found her to be a bully, harsh, mean, etc. But I did try to listen to her program at times, because that’s the way I roll–I try to push myself out of my comfort zone and actually listen to perspectives I don’t agree with–that whole getting out of my comfort zone thing. And in fact years later I would learn the wisdom of what I was doing when I came upon a book by John Stuart Mill titled “On Liberty” and in it he makes the point that the liveliness of our mind increases by voluntarily subjecting ourselves to debates with those holding opinions different from our own, and that in the process of having to try to defend our opinion or reasonably dismantle or refute another’s opinion or point of view our thinking changes from being full of dead dogmas to being full of living truths.) . . . so continuing . . . I was reading a lot of Dr. Laura, M. Scott Peck (“The Road Less Traveled“), Marianne Williamson (“A Return to Love“), Erich Fromm (“The Art of Loving“) and Krishnamurti (“Think on These Things,” and “Meeting Life” I think were the two books of his that I first stumbled upon), and Covey’s “The Seven Habits of Highly Effective People,” and the common thing in these books is that they all talk about Truth and about Love. And so I was marinating my mind in this stuff. And not in a dogmatic or brain-dead way–I was just flying through these books in a surfacy way, I was reading this books in a very living way: whenever I had a thought of my own sparked by something I was reading–which was fairly frequently–I either wrote out my thoughts/commentary in the margins of the book or I put down the book and journaled my thoughts on scrap papers or in a notebook. I wasn’t just reading the books in a dogmatic/cultish way, I was digesting them, arguing with them, exploring my own reactions–in a sense developing my own thinking skills and wisdom. I was learning how to think more so than merely just what to think (although I was learning to think in terms of character and courage and the possible long-term consequences of my actions now on these parts of me, etc), and most of all I was learning to think in a way where I was dedicated more to what was objectively true rather than just what was comfortable to my own ego and pet wants and assumptions. And so in the process, one of the things that definitely happened is that a light went on and I was able to think about myself in a much more objective way–i.e. “the way one looks at distant things, for I was only one thing among many” to echo the words of Czeslaw Milosz in his great poem “Love“–

      Love means to learn to look at yourself
      The way one looks at distant things
      For you are only one thing among many.
      And whoever sees that way heals his heart,
      Without knowing it, from various ills

      So I was reading a lot of challenging and at times very “in your face” truthful books that spoke a lot about what Love really is and isn’t as well as what a more examined life actually looks like–how a person leading an examined life thinks (and I was able to discover for myself how a person leading an examined life actually reads–with a lot of highlighting and journaling and debating with the book, as if one were having an actual discussion with the author and questioning him and much as he or she might be questioning you).

      So, as I was saying, I’m glad to hear that my writing is proving to be stimulating and thought provoking and change provoking. I would love to hear more about what form that is taking for you in your life. And if you would rather not air it, feel free to email me.

      Warmest regards as always, Julie, and thank you for reading and commenting 🙂

      John

  5. Pingback: Jumble Spoiler – 06/05/12 « Unclerave's Wordy Weblog

  6. I used to read A LOT! I was obsessed until someone close to me made the observation that I was obsessed with reading and with the Bible. Something clicked right there and I put it all down and started working to live, to apply what I had learned practically. It’s been a couple of years and what I have learned to be the most useful practices have been truly listening (without defense, because that puts up a shield and block), especially when people have been angry with me; extracting what I believe applies to me (discerning between projection and personal truth); cleaning up my life; especially in terms of other people; and working diligently at non-judgment and eliminating petty negativity. And then there’s letting God lead the way and continual efforts in the area of humility. Ahhh, and the underlying current — perseverance, ongoing reflection and digesting sound feedback. … That you focus on truth is lovely in and of itself.

    • Ah, you are very nice, Julie; thank you for the kind words. The focus on truth and wisdom–the dedication to these things–is something I have cultivated in myself for many years.

      And, yes, agreed, the ultimate proof of what we really know and have learned is behavior. Not what we say, but what we do. And you have chosen many good things that you have learned and to put into practice–things I aspire to practice on a daily basis as well. I.e.: deep listening–listening even to criticism or when another is angry; eliminating petty negativity; learning to be more humble (that is so helpful in increasing our ability to be open and to really learn); and practicing perseverance, ongoing reflection, and digesting sound feedbakc. These are all wonderful things and things I preactice regularly as well.

      And, Julie, I wasn’t sure what you meant by cleaning up your life, especially in terms of other people, but I have an idea. So feel free to clarify it, if you’d like.

      Thank you for commenting, and I’m glad my focus on truth has resonated with you! 🙂

      Kindest regards,

      John

      • “I wasn’t sure what you meant by cleaning up your life, especially in terms of other people, but I have an idea. So feel free to clarify it, if you’d like.” Eek. This is a loaded one. I’ll try to be succinct: Whatever is harmful to me goes, whether it be a friend that attacks viciously in anger (using private information against me), a pretend relationship, or a work relationship that is unsafe and volatile. I have found that having a clean relationship environment is essential for me. Now, family is a rougher area, because I love my family deeply. In the case of family, I delve much deeper into myself to resolve issues, and am letting God do the pacing. In the case of friends, I have often chosen poorly in the past, as well as been afraid to truly be myself. I let these people think I was a lot more innocent and weaker than I actually am, and I let them think that they could get away with how they treated me. My bad. I often chose these people when I was in bad shape mentally, so my choices were often a reflection of who I was at the time.

  7. Pingback: Leadership Thought #367 – Be Authentic and Honest In Your Communication « Ed Robinson's Blog

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