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.

10 thoughts on “I lied

  1. 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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  2. 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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  3. 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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  4. a:hover {color: red;} a {text-decoration: none; color: #0088cc;} a.primaryactionlink:link, a.primaryactionlink:visited {background-color: #2585B2; color: #fff;} a.primaryactionlink:hover, a.primaryactionlink:active {background-color: #11729E; color: #fff;} I look forward to part three of this dramatic series, where (1) you confess that your husband switches back to his old self to whereas your scared to be true and he now uses you as an example of a liar (2) you both misunderstood nvc by saying a lie is protective use of force, (3) you let down your equanimity and your ability to self-empathize by seeking a friend for sympathy and enablement, (4) you gave up your autonomy to be an emotional slave (5) and as an adult you lacked accountability and played the victim (6) confess deeper as to why you really need and do lie as a grown adult human that lives in health, chooses compassion, meditates, mindful practice, considers Buddhism, and other sources of great human teachers. I mean really connect in a way that is 2017 that cuts through and sheds some real light on what's going on.I'm curious how many you send this email out to? Not that I really care. I'm just naturally curious and think as to what you are trying to achieve. Because honestly, you not only lied to your husband, you lied to everyone that reads this. You could have used your newsletter as a source of empathy from others to expose your lie as your theme was self-criticism…but instead you brought us into your lie and false stories…which one of my thoughts that past through my multi-faceted options of choice, is that your are not credible and this email is more of a cry out of an abusive relationship that you are trying to explore being honest in….but that's just one thought. Perhaps you want your newsletter people to know your husband isn't a hardlined asshole and he has changed and that people that are in such ego can loosen the reins of control and accept the honesty and mistakes of others. Who knows, But as a business strategy, in such a small town as Austin with so many international walks of life, I don't how see how this exposure could create more value. Now, if you were exploring conceptual performance art, you may be on to something. What sticks with me the most is a lie being used as protective force. I wanted to get more perspectives about this besides Elly and David, so I was looking into the NVC website to get into contact with someone..and I ran into something on their site about teaching NVC and mindfulness in prisons…and I think, what if they used that as an example to prisoners, where many prisoners do lie, to cover a harsh crime. Lying is usually associated with survival, winning, not being judged, or punished. You kinda make lying sound OK in your email, because I presume were all human and not perfect…so it's granted we would all lie.Yet there is something bigger going on…Currently we have a political system that is full of lies and it nurtures a world and society of lies…Lets not even call them lies, lets just call it different versions of truth, limited expressions of honesty because everyone in America is entitled to their own "belief"; lets give the benefit of the doubt. One perspective is that I hear you kinda saying through this email that adult liars that admit their lying are still ok people and should be professionally credible in the field that which they are lying, and not lose their value or power? Trump is a liar, if he admitted all his shit, should he still get to be president, George Bush, dick Cheney and Donald Rumsfield lied that led to so many deaths and continued war…should they not be punished by law.So you lied. A leader that encourages a community that teaches and nurtures empathy, which requires openness has lied and blames the possible reaction of her husband, and feels shame that she needs to lie. Then you bring it to the public for everyone to either not judge you or throw stones at you, or have any sort of opinion. Very conditioned way of thinking. Very dualistic. Very limited. Not an NVC world. More like enslavement. It could make a reader think that behind closed doors he made you write this newsletter as an apology to him. And me haven't been to one of your meet ups in a year because it's too damn painful to be in a room where you and David have been fighting, and he wants you to express your tension and talk schematics and psychological bullshit of emotions, and when you do, and do it wrong, he tells and corrects you on how to describe your feelings and it frustrates you and you walk out. I really wish you two success and give positiveness that both of you have stopped using nvc has a weapon of justification, a one uping device…and are truly compassionate, open, honest and real.Lying over cushions because you are in fear. That's not inspiring. It sounds like you are in need of help.

    WordPress.com On January 9, 2018 at 10:21 PM Bring your life into balance <comment-reply@wordpress.com> 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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    • 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.

      Like

  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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