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Honesty or Strategy?

At times in our life, all of us will choose to be strategic in terms of how we relate to the world. Because we are governed by the law of cause and effect, everything has a consequence. And so, to be successful, this means we must choose our consequences consciously. To understand more about this in depth, I urge you to watch my video titled: Why You Should Consciously Choose Consequences. But just like being honest and authentic sometimes comes with consequences, being strategic also comes with consequences. And we can’t choose between the negative and positive consequences of being honest or of being strategic unless we realize that we have this choice. And start to be conscious about making it. 

For the sake of this conversation, you can imagine that in each situation and beyond that, in life in general, we have two ways of going about it.

  1. We can be honest and authentic. If we are honest, we are thinking, speaking and acting in accordance with the truth and with what is real for us. We are being genuine, sincere and we are in a state of integrity. When we do this, we are engaging with life from the inside out. We are being straightforward in that we are bringing our truth out into the world.
  2. We can be strategic. If we are being strategic, we are thinking, speaking and acting in accordance with a plan or method that guarantees us to be able to avoid something we don’t want or gain something we want. When we do this, we are engaging with the world from the outside in. We first assess the outside world so as to come up with a plan for what it would take to avoid what we want to avoid or get what we want to get; and then we adjust ourselves as necessary.

It is difficult to preserve the truth of yourself and be honest in a society where the process of socialization teaches you that certain things are acceptable and certain things are unacceptable. In many families and cultures, the consequences are so high for a child being or not being a certain way or for their truth being or not being a certain thing, that they give up their sense of self in order to avoid those consequences and in order to get what they want and need. They learn that strategy is the way to avoid pain and get what they want and need.

As a result of all of this, in adulthood, so many of us are living from strategy instead of from authenticity. So many of us are being strategic instead of honest; both with ourselves and with others. But so many of us began to relate to other people and to life itself in a strategic way so early that we do this subconsciously. So many people are living in this state of constant strategy, and they don’t even realize it; it is only obvious to the people around them. The reason that we can continue to do this subconsciously is because we decided long ago that what we value most is being able to control the experiences we have. If we can think and speak and act in a way that guarantees that we will avoid what we want to avoid and get what we want to get, we are acting in accordance with our core value. And therefore, in being strategic, we feel like we are being true to ourselves, even if we are being inauthentic and dishonest.

So that you can further understand what I mean, I will give you two examples.

  1. Debbie grew up in a home with a very domineering and controlling single mother. When her father divorced her mother, he moved to a different city. Whenever she behaved in an authentic way as a child that did not please her mother, such as expressing emotion that her mother didn’t like or sharing an opinion that didn’t agree with her, the punishment was isolation. Her best interests were not considered in any decision that was made by either her mother or her father. Therefore, she felt very out of control. Feeling unaccepted by her mother and unloved by her father, she developed so much shame that Debbie decided the most important thing was to prove to herself that she was a good person and to be able to control her life. In order to feel like a good person and to get what she wanted with other people and avoid pain, Debbie became a very, very strategic person.

    Debbie blocked out any awareness of any personal truth that might make her feel bad about herself. She refused to accept any reflections that other people gave her that would cause her to feel bad about herself and instead would come up with a reason why they were the one that was wrong/bad instead. She decided to do humanitarian work with her time and energy; so that she could see herself as a good person and get other people to see her as a good person. She hated the work itself, so when she wasn’t shown enough praise, gratitude or credit for what she did, she would quit and join a different humanitarian organization. Debbie was fully locked into the “So That Pattern”. If you want to know more about this pattern, you can watch my video titled: If You Want to Be Happy, Don’t Do This.

    Debbie became a very two-faced person. She was insincere and deceitful. Saying pleasant things about a person when she was in front of them and unpleasant things about them when she wasn’t. Even when other people accurately pin pointed her truth based on her actions or on things they had heard she had said behind their backs, she would refuse to admit to it or to reveal that truth. She would deliberately manipulate people to believe that she was completely aligned with them, when the reality is, she was not. She would be openly considerate of other people and meet their needs, so as to obligate them to be considerate of her and meet her needs in return. She would only enter into relationships with men who did not know themselves and strategically help them to realize that their truth was actually the same as her truth and their desires were actually the same as her desires.

    Debbie had lost touch with her personal truth and refused to face it. She would refuse to share what personal truth she did know if there were any negative consequences for doing so. So, no one was ever really in a relationship with Debbie. They were in a relationship with a carefully crafted façade, designed to be able to control her environment, avoid pain and get what she wanted and needed. Ultimately, she caused herself and everyone around her incredible pain because of it.
  2. Eric was raised by a transient stream of nannies. His mother had died and his father was a man who had no space or time for a child, unless that child’s accomplishments or behavior was somehow fed his own ego. Eric realized early on that he would never be loved or get his needs met unless he pleased his father. So, he gave up on being true to himself in favor of employing whatever strategy guaranteed him this. He dressed in a way that would please his father, he was praising and affectionate with him, he took up his father’s favorite sport. He joined in on political rallies that belonged to his father’s favorite political party. He told himself that he and his father were best friends. He married the girl he knew his father would love. And then he repeated the same pattern with her. He adopted her life. He wore what she wanted him to wear. He convinced himself that her interests were his interests. He wrote down his dark thoughts and feelings in a journal and never shared them with anyone. He agreed to getting married when she started putting pressure on him to do so. He agreed to having kids with her when she wanted them and told her that he wanted them too. Ultimately, Eric got what he wanted. But at the cost of ever finding out what his personal truth was beyond “I want this person to love me”.

    When Eric was 40 years old, he had a mid-life crisis. Because he had been subconsciously making such a strategic game out of his life, he couldn’t keep it up and feel good in his life. And so, he completely flipped on the people in his life. He began to treat them like they had forced him into a life that wasn’t his…  That they had controlled him for their own best interests. He cheated on his wife. And he stopped engaging with his kids because his actual truth was that he always wanted an open relationship and he didn’t really want kids in the first place. He just thought that if he said so, his wife would end the relationship. Of course, when he finally did tell his wife this, she had a nervous breakdown and moved back in with her mother. Eric joined the opposite political party from the one he had supported all his life. He stopped going to his father’s house for holidays and became estranged from him, something that severely affected his father’s health. He expressed problems he had with the past with both his father and with his wife years after those situations had occurred, and now that neither of them could do anything about it. He blew up every relationship in his life, causing himself and all of them immeasurable pain.

There are consequences for honesty. I don’t need to tell you about those consequences in this episode because you’ve lived long enough on earth to see what those consequences are. But there are consequences for strategy too. And those consequences I assure you, are severe. To understand more about this in depth, I ask you to watch my video titled: Are you Only Honest When You Feel Like There Are No Consequences?

I can’t say to you that strategy is always a bad idea and that honesty is always better. What I can say is that because we are so unconscious about our choice to be either honest or to be strategic, all too often honesty/authenticity and strategy are diametrically opposed. What I can say is that it is not possible to be stuck in this condition of being constantly strategic and to be happy or to have real relationships at the same time. And so, if you want a life worth living, you’ve got to know what your truth is. See the positive and negative consequences for being honest and see the positive and negative consequences for being strategic. And based off of that awareness, consciously decide what to do with your truth.


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