One of the challenges of being a Transformational Coach, at least for me, is that during sessions, my own unresolved issues are sometimes stirred up by my client’s circumstances. It is as though my clients come to me partly to heal themselves and partly to bring deeper healing to me – healing I didn’t ask for – healing I didn’t even know I needed, but nevertheless am now required to be with!
The intention of me sharing this with you is that it is good to know that no matter how much personal work you have done, inevitably, you will be delivered a surprise package of self-awareness, and all you can do is sigh and say okay – let’s open this package up!… SIGH!
On this particular occasion, the surprise package arrived during a session with Barney, a new client from New York. Barney has been with his girlfriend Nancy for four years, and loves her tremendously, yet he continues to meet with women in an escort service. He shares with me that his sexual relationship with Nancy is unsatisfactory – and he admits it’s mostly because of him – not Nancy. Barney says “I’m not using Nancy for love. I just know she will leave me if she knew I was doing what I was doing.” Oh Boy!!! I just got stirred and shaken by Barney’s sharing. He is lying and he doesn’t even know it!
What got stirred in me wasn’t judgment of Barney. What got stirred was the truth of all the times that I said those very same words as Barney – “I’m not using them/him/her, I just know that if I tell the truth, then I will most likely be left and rejected.”
Self-Awareness Doesn’t Always Feel Good
As I sit here writing, I experience emotional discomfort – a lot of discomfort! I experience the Nancy aspect of me. Barney loves Nancy but isn’t loving Nancy. He isn’t in integrity with her, nor does he respect her to the degree he openly explores how to have a more satisfying sexual relationship. For me, I’ve lived in many relationships where I knew myself to be insignificant – not mattering enough to actually experience lovingness from my partner, and therefore didn’t receive it.
On the other hand I experience the Barney side of me – that part that is so afraid of his own insignificance, he hides it in his denial, in his justifications, and in the way he compensates for where he believes he is powerless and hopeless.
All of this is me – still – after decades of being open to knowing myself to greater and greater degrees. Now I open myself to this! Sigh!
I am Barney; I’ve lied to protect myself, I’ve used people, and I’ve made choices that were self-serving, but I never meant to hurt anyone. And I’m Nancy; I’ve been lied to, I’ve been used, and I made choices to ignore this truth, thus in fact using other people, even though I acted as if I were the victim, but I never meant to hurt anyone. Sigh!
Why Do We Lie?
In my coaching practice, what occurs more often then anything else is that people lie to protect themselves from humiliation and powerlessness. The experience of being found out is excruciatingly humiliating. The experience of finding out you’ve been lied to is also excruciatingly humiliating. Coming out of denial is one of the hardest human experiences I know of. There is an implosion into nothingness – annihilation of reality as it has been known, from which there may be an explosion of rage, anger, & hatred as an expression of the powerlessness and the betrayal underlying it all.
Humiliation is a shattering of our ego-created reality. We avoid that experience as if it were the Plague! However unless we shatter our denial – AKA, Don’t Even Know I Am Lying, we are trapped in brutalizing ourselves. Barney hates himself because he is living a lie. Nancy will hate him if he tells the truth. He is in a dilemma!
I remember a moment in my life where I confronted myself with the lie I was living. I knew the moment I revealed that lie to myself my marriage was over. I couldn’t live with the truth of that lie any longer. In that moment I chose to be significant in my own life. It is sad to say that deciding to be significant in my own life meant the end of my marriage, however the dynamics of conditions I created with myself and my partner had it be what it was. Sigh!
None of Us are Bad or Wrong
I believe each of us are doing the very best we can with the conditions we were given. One way I have come to be with this whole aspect of life – the degree to which we create a reality based on lies, is using the prayer Jesus spoke as he was dying on the cross: “Forgive them Father for they know not what they do.” I say: “Forgive them Rosie, for they know not what they do.” And, I add: “Forgive me Rosie, for I know not what I do.” This helps a lot!
Being with the raw reality that we lie, and we are lied to, is hard to be with. And, I think each of us is attempting to protect ourselves from the fallout of this reality. It is a hard and necessary practice if we want any degree of peace, serenity, and prosperity in our lives.
I’m finding there is way to shift this dynamic: I’m teaching myself to witness when I’m lying. I’m teaching myself to stop lying. I’m teaching myself to say what I mean and mean what I say.
Most of this lying now only occurs with myself – and I’m vigilant to only speak my truth with others. It is a big practice, but now absolutely necessary for me. Why? Because to do otherwise violates my human-spirit. Where this was once normal it is now no longer acceptable.
And so it is in being with others as they confront themselves that I teach myself to be in integrity with my truth. Thank you clients for healing me softly in moments that sometimes feel like Killing Me Softly!