I recently read a paper I will be reflecting on for a long time, “Imagine a workplace where you could tell the truth” by Lauren A Taylor and David Berg, in the newsletter, Psyche. They describe the very real reasons not telling the truth is so pervasive in workplaces, the importance of being realistic about this, its terrible costs, and what we can do about it.
I feel such sadness about this, it is a theme that reverberates throughout my life in so many different ways. The people and situations where I realized, no matter what their intentions, people were not being truthful in ways congruent with their authentic feelings and the situation itself. It reminds me of my childhood traumas, how traumas are not simply horrifying moments of emotional and physical pain that shatter one’s implicit assumptions about others, the world and how things work, but also situations where no adult reaches out to comfort the child and help them heal, helping them make sense of what happened, where the child has no one they can trust with the terrible burden they are carrying alone. Our world is haunted by this terrible aloneness, alienation and loneliness. It is something I know about in my bones.
The Buddha said you can have a cavern that has been dark throughout its long existence and all you have to do is light a candle.
I feel deep gratitude and wonder for the people and situations, from my infancy to today, who helped me feel safe and risk more honesty with myself and others. That lifelong process of discernment and learning about what in ourselves, situations and others is trustworthy. The deep value and safety that can be found in responsive, communicative empathy, compassion and taking time to discover and express what we are truly feeling with others who are truly present. I feel such gratitude for companions and mentors in my contemplative and professional life, my psychotherapist who accompanied me in that long, dark healing process in my late thirties and forties, and the friends, family, colleagues and clients who have shared our mutual journey of healing, maturing, growth and discovery.
When I started reflecting on this article I was feeling such sadness, and now I am feeling gratitude, wonder, opening, deep congruence and coherence, ready for the rest of the day.