Bring your life into balance

Empathy works. It always does.

I lied

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I lied

To my husband. I feel pretty shitty about it. Scared. I fear I’ll lose acceptance by confessing. I know this feeling from long, long ago and it has motivated me more than once to show up with less honesty than I wanted.

A few weeks ago I described washing the cushion covers of one of our living room chairs. My husband has taken care of this chair for 25 years, and it was in almost pristine condition. I had asked to clean it and we had agreed to try the washing machine set on cold temperature and delicates. I shared in a previous story that the covers came out shrunken and shredded. I wrote that it was an accident, and that I forgot to check the temperature.

I lied.

I actually knew the temperature of the washing machine and had made a conscious choice to wash them on a ‘warm’ setting anyway. I thought it wouldn’t do any harm, and I was convinced that a warm setting would do a better cleaning job. When they came out shredded and shrunken, I felt shocked.

I did irreparable harm, and it was my fault. I felt shame. I feared my husband would be angry, blame me, and we would lose connection.

So I lied.

At our next Nonviolent Communication empathy practice, a friend asks me if I really hadn’t checked the temperature. With my husband nearby, I decide to continue the lie. I don’t want her to know the truth, before he does. That only seems to aggravate the lie. I feel horrible immediately. I sacrifice my needs for integrity and honesty in service of my needs for acceptance and emotional safety.

As soon as our practice ends and our community leaves, I tell my husband the truth about what had happened. To my relief he seems to already have understood this. He appears to hold no grudge or judgment, just a genuine regret that the cushions were ruined.

It reminds me of a lesson about mourning and self-forgiveness:

“Mourning in NVC is the process of fully connecting with the unmet needs and the feelings that are generated when we have been less than perfect. It is an experience of regret, but regret that helps us learn from what we have done without blaming or hating ourselves. We see how our behavior ran counter to our own needs and values, and we open ourselves to feelings that arise out of that awareness. […]

We follow up on the process of mourning with self-forgiveness. Turning our attention to the part of the self which chose to act in the way that led to the present situation, we ask ourselves, “When I behaved in the way in which I now regret, what need of mine was I trying to meet?” (Marshall Rosenberg, Nonviolent Communication).

I feel relieved to see how much I value intimacy and honesty in my closest  relationships and cleanliness in my house, and how my strategies failed to include my hubbie, my roommate in brainstorming strategies that meet all those needs.

When I call my friend that same evening and explain what happened, she laughs. Wholeheartedly. She is amused by the tangle of cushions, honesty, and acceptance. She doesn’t have any judgments. Just compassion for our human predicament, and empathy for my needs for love, acceptance, and belonging.

How does this land for you? Let me know, I would love to hear from you.

Author: Elly van Laar

I am a coach. I specialize in helping mission-driven professionals bring their lives into balance. I have a Master's degree in Political Science, Leiden University, the Netherlands. I'm currently in an ICF-coaching certification program. I love meditation, walking, gardening, biking, and hanging out with family and friends.

9 thoughts on “I lied

  1. Hi Joe, thanks for your elaborate response to my post on lying. I wanted to take time to reflect on what you wrote. I read you didn’t find the post inspiring, you think I am in need of help, the post is dualistic, limited, not NVC, more like enslavement. You haven’t been to NVC, because it was too painful to be in a room where I and David have been fighting, psychological bullshit of emotions, and that my post seems to make lying okay. I read mainly needs unmet by post.

    As a result of reading your comments, I realized that I got confused about lying and protective use of force. Lying is a tragic expression of unmet needs, and I wished I had been clear about the distinction. I changed the end of the post, to connect my choice to the process of mourning and self-forgiveness.

    As far as David and I are concerned: I understand that you choose not to participate in our groups. I hope you find other groups where you find support for your path of compassion, openness, honesty, and being real.

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  2. Dear,

    I can feel your pain and how difficult it was to share this story.

    And I feel touched and inspired by your courage and your ability to take « risks ».

    Best wishes for this year – love

    Frédéric

    >

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    • Dear Frederic, yes this was one of the more difficult stories to share, because I have a lot of judgment about lying and being dishonest. Yes, at the same time, I wanted to share this, because I want to open up the dialogue about moments when we are less than perfect and inspire us to hold ourselves with compassion.

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  3. Dear Elly, for some reason this story made me laugh. I thought about that and realised I am laughing because your husband goes to nvc with you and YOU STILL lie to him. But I am not laughing at you, I am laughing at MYSELF for imagining that if my partner were to come to nvc we would have the perfect relationship and I would be even more perfect than I am (and I am way more perfect than him because I go to nvc and he does not) and I would certainly never lie or shout or swear or tease ever again… I am really enjoying this moment, thanks for the wake up ❤

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    • Hi Rowena, yes,… practicing NVC, sitting with my Buddhist Sangha on my cushion, reading all those books on purpose, self-compassion, personal growth. And still lying to the one guy who practices with me: my hubbie. Can you imagine how our marriage would be without any of those tools! Haha, yes, it is a reminder that even though we are committed to the practice, we still fail at times. The thing -for me- is not to be perfect, but to pick up the slack and try again. Thanks for reading!

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  4. you can never wash upholstery or any kind of fabric like that…….Home Ec queen It was not the temperature……..just doesn’t work no matter what they say. The fabric has possibilities of wash if not made into garment or pillow. But once there are seams, thread etc, different deal.

    I would say it was a gift. A chance to say good-bye, lighten the weight, be in the moment no hanging on to old memories. Think of the Harvey, disasters around the world. Let the upholstery go live another life

    Aralyn Hughes 512.698.6800 – http://www.aralyn.com

    On Tue, Jan 9, 2018 at 9:21 PM, Bring your life into balance wrote:

    > Elly van Laar posted: “To my husband. I feel pretty shitty about it. > Scared. I fear I’ll lose acceptance by confessing. I know this feeling from > long, long ago and it has motivated me more than once to show up with less > honesty than I wanted. A few weeks ago I described wash” >

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    • Thanks for responding to my blog about washing the cushions. Yes, I learned it the hard way about not being able to wash upholstery. And maybe it is time to let go. For now, we are okay with the shrunken cushions and have a comfortable seat to sit on for our NVC-classes.

      How have you been doing?

      *Elly van Laar, MA* Coach: Helping mission-driven professionals bring their lives into balance

      website | 512-589-0482 schedule your discovery session with me

      *”Empathy works. It always does.”*

      On Fri, Jan 12, 2018 at 10:06 AM, Bring your life into balance wrote:

      > Respond to this comment by replying above this line > New comment on Bring your life into balance > > * aralynhughes commented on I lied > * > > To my husband. I feel pretty shitty about it. Scared. I fear I’ll lose > acceptance by confessing. I know this feeling from … > > you can never wash upholstery or any kind of fabric like that…….Home > Ec queen It was not the temperature……..just doesn’t work no matter what > they say. The fabric has possibilities of wash if not made into garment or > pillow. But once there are seams, thread etc, different deal. > > I would say it was a gift. A chance to say good-bye, lighten the weight, > be in the moment no hanging on to old memories. Think of the Harvey, > disasters around the world. Let the upholstery go live another life > > Aralyn Hughes 512.698.6800 – http://www.aralyn.com > >

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  5. I appreciate your use of honesty for helping me deepen my understanding of use of dishonesty. I’ve been thinking a lot about protective use of force lately and even lies seem innocent to me in reflection on it.

    The feeling if shame is strong for me when it comes up and being able to clean up lies feel like such a relief. I hope your sharing today helps others feel comfortable exploring and having compassion for themselves when they notice a lie. It helps me!

    Liked by 1 person

    • Hi Eden, thanks for responding to my blog about lying. Yes, I resonate with your feeling of relief when you clean up lies. I have that same experience. This has been an interesting issue for me, because I am becoming more aware of how old experiences of ridicule, criticism, rejection impact my current day choices around honesty. So, yeah to learning and growing!

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