I recently had a phone call from a dear friend Marion, who had just finished reading my book, (which she loved – I have to get that in there!). She told me she felt as if I was talking specifically to her the entire time she was reading Messages.
Marion and I talked about many aspects of the book, but our most important conversation came from her question, “when did ‘Truth’ first become important to you?”
“That’s a hard question to answer right off the cuff,” I said, “but I think I’ve always cared about ‘Truth.’”
As the hours went by after our conversation, my memory began to improve. Now I had a more accurate answer and it was deep and difficult for me even to remember.
I am the daughter of an alcoholic. I’m not going to go into my story; I want to let that one go. But I mention it here to say that often in my life I told white lies to keep everybody (especially my father) happy, okay with me and peaceful. I considered it telling the truth until I read a book by Scott Peck called People of the Lie.
Because I was so grounded in the belief that I always told the truth, I initially was offended by the book. Peck claims that most people are liars! “NOT ME!” I demanded, put off by the very idea. It wasn’t until I delved deeper into the book that I began finally to SEE that I was one of those people. In my life, because the lies I told were “white lies,” they were okay; they didn’t hurt anyone. But in Scott’s book a lie is a lie. Period. My “white lies” were not the truth, therefore they were lies. This book had a tremendous effect on, me as all of Scott’s books do, and so I began to practice being as aware as possible of my “truth telling.”
I had an altercation with a friend, Alice; the reason and circumstances behind the altercation are not important, but in short, Alice saw behaviors in herself, as I told my story, which bothered her. She apologized after the incident, saying, “what bothers me the most is how much I betrayed myself by that behavior!”
I was quite stunned with her comment and kept turning it over in my mind. Because of it, I truly became aware of the meaning behind Peck’s teachings. I began to realize that whenever I acted or spoke in opposition to my own beliefs or values, such as not saying the exact truth, I was betraying no one more than I was betraying myself. WOW!
That moment altered my behavior for the rest of my life. I am no longer willing to lie to protect anyone else – to protect myself – or to cover anything up. It isn’t worth the self-betrayal. I tell the truth. If I don’t I am betraying no one more than I am betraying myself. If I don’t like what I’m saying, that’s what I need to look at! It is too expensive to not tell the truth, and my soul wants my integrity.
Right now, my honesty is the most important thing to me; I find that very interesting. I want honesty and integrity in my politicians, I want it from my friends and from my family, as much as I want it from myself. Marion told me another precious story recently. She recalled a time that her daughter, at a very tender age, cut up a family house plant. Marion spanked her, making it very clear that the spanking had nothing to do with her damaging the plant, and everything to do with the fact that she lied. She shared, “My daughter tells that story to this day when she’s lecturing to students.” The consequences of her action – of her lie – stick with her to this day from that one lesson. Lying causes pain.
Attending my son Carl Daikeler’s annual summit of his company Beachbody in Las Vegas this past weekend, I was blessed with the opportunity to witness how often and the way his coaches responded to him – what he said and did; what he told them. The comment I received most often from other attendes was, “he’s got so much ‘integrity.’” Each time I heard this, I smiled and nodded, for I know the true value of integrity, and I saw that they appreciated it in a person.
For now, I strive to continue to be completely honest and hold myself with complete integrity in everything I do. To me, integrity and truth are the same thing.
Truth is who I am.
Who are you? What do you hold to such esteem? How did that develop for you personally?