Radical Honesty: the truth about you if you are human and breathe: you are a liar. 1
Did you notice that in American spoken English, people don’t lie down, they lay down; things are not underlying, they are underlaying. The culture of withhold, the culture of hidden lies is so strong: it is changing the language.
You can call a person an s.o.b., but don’t call him on a lie: he will kill you, or at least sue you. Lol.
Someone recommended that book, the Radical Honesty, to me. I had to put it down after about 30 pages: I could not stand the amateurish writing style, the long convoluted sentences, the self-promotion angle of it.
I just hung up with a friend. He started, with my help, a business that so far built him a mailing list of about 700 people: not a bad start. He also got three consulting gigs out of it, that isn’t bad either.
I am managing his mailing list for him, and I feel that his people need to get an email today, or they will not remember why this guy is writing to them.
Normally this guy calls me every day, but I haven’t heard from him for more than two weeks.
So I called him. “What’s up? Your people need to get an email… what do you want to tell them?”
From the other end of the line this sheepish voice came, shame mostly. “I don’t know why I can’t do it. I have so many ideas and then I just don’t want to do it…” he was squirming.
This has been his attitude with any growth opportunity he had in the past 12 years: that is how long I’ve known him.
So, what’s up with that, WTF, right?
He is a Landmark graduate, he did Dianetics, he worked with Tony Robbins, he went to India a dozen times, how come he can’t control himself when it comes to success?
He is impeded… he is using most of his energies to hide stuff… that if he goes to uncharted territory, where all the moves are unusual, he may slip and let up and some of that ugliness spills out.
How do I know it? because that is how humans are… use most of their brain power, and 99% of their will to stuff what they NEED TO STUFF, to maintain the status quo… and interestingly, there is nothing nice or lovely about the status quo: most of the people I know are dissatisfied, bored, lost, hoping, trying, but none of them are living, passionately, nothing held back, full out, like they could.
Is it courage that’s missing? Yes. But not the courage to go for it, the courage to tell the truth about the lies, the pretenses, the disloyalty, the gossip ping, the ugliness.
In the current Second Phase Activators class we are hammering away at a concept: you are a liar. You are a fake, you are a fraud, you are a pretender.
Nothing special, nothing personal.
If you are a human being living in a society, you have to be.
In an environment where Unconditional Love is only a slogan, you needed to “buy” love, you need to “buy” love.
You are layer upon layer of pretense, and underneath it all you have no idea who you are. If you just said that that is not true for you: what you consider you is a bunch of lies, a construct, to look good and make it in life.
If you are a drunkard and a bum, you have built it as a persona, that is not who you are.
If you are a genius but can’t show much for it, that’s not who you are.
If you cheated at math and that’s why you have a degree: that is not who you are.
If you only have friends to prove your superiority: that is not who you are.
Persona or personality is a societal constructs of lies serving a purpose of looking good (or bad for some of you, lol. You look so bad that it’s an art…) and making it (as in surviving life.)
I can only guess that Radical Honesty is the same as what we are doing in the class: we are telling the truth about our lies, about our pretenses.
It is scary. It is a lot like getting naked in front of strangers. Or in front of your students… as it is for me.
You stand in front of your mirror and all you can see is what is wrong with your body. For a moment you convince yourself to look at what’s right, but that lasts for a second or so, and you are back looking at what is wrong with you.
And such is life.
In an old est (Erhard Seminar Training, the predecessor of Landmark Education’s technology) training program, at the 6-day course, there were two big exercises to do this “radical honesty” thing: the body confront and the sex withhold.
In the body confront the whole class, about a hundred people came to class dressed in swimming trunks or swimming suits.
Behind the podium there was a full wall covered with mirrors.
Ten people lined up there facing their reflection. So now you are watching what is wrong with you, while the rest of the class watches you from behind: terrifying.
Then you are asked to turn around and face the class. Then observers (assistants) come and look at you from close, their noses an inch from your skin. I was howling at this point.
It’s horrible for the people upfront, and horrible for the people in the chairs. Uncomfortable. In a world of hiding, lying, compliments, and allowances, looking at the naked truth is very very uncomfortable.
At some point I looked at the class and got that I was unacceptable for them the way I was, and accepted that. I also had a profound experience of love. A love that didn’t depend on them loving me. A love that had nothing to do with them. A love I am free to give, not as a means of earning something, not as a currency.
I was never ashamed of my body any more.
The second exercise was the sex withhold.
I don’t know if it was intentional, but they crowded all 118 of us into a classroom that could only accommodate 50 people comfortably. I felt the body heat of at least three people: they were that close. And then the exercise began. The leader asked questions about sex and your experiences, and your thoughts, and you could answer with raising your hands, or share…
Most people experienced some release vicariously, but that is like sex, vicariously: it is not the real thing. There was a gay man who had had more than a thousand partners, and still didn’t have AIDS, (this was in 1987!) and myself that were, obviously, there to leave all that stuff to hide and stuff (pun intended!) and leave the course clear, clean, and unimpeded.
I, for example, got empowered to leave architecture and venture out to areas that used all my talents and capabilities, that were healing as they were challenging, and I started a life of bliss in the domain of vocation.