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Truth, love and honouring your unborn self

“If you don't say what you think then you kill your unborn self.” Jordan Peterson.

I have an idea in my head about who I am and how I want people to see me. There are a series of stories and narratives that I've weaved together over many years to try and create a sense of safety, continuity and belonging. I have a name, an address, and a job title. I am a father, a husband, and a friend. I have strengths and weaknesses, causes that I care about, and activities that I enjoy. The sum of these stories gives me a sense of "me", and the sense of cohesion makes me feel safe. There is order in my life.

Then I find myself sitting in a meeting at work, or at breakfast with my family, and I have something to say which stirs from deep inside me, but it's inconsistent with the "me" that I've so carefully managed. The words stirring inside of me have the potential to create chaos, so rather than risk shattering my precious narratives, I suppress the words.

Then the thought comes up at dinner, and I suppress it again.

Then the thought catches me at 2am, and I can't get back to sleep.

The dissonance creates a subtle disease in my body, and I carry that with me. Rather than risk any fracturing of my current identity, I let the dissonance persist in my body.

And persist it does.

I don't know about you, but these unexpressed thoughts never disappear fully if I don't express them. They twist and morph, and show up in weirdly distorted ways down the line.

Whatever your religious, spiritual or metaphysical beliefs, it seems clear that these thoughts come from deep inside us. We are called to tell the truth, and to honour our emergent self, even if it's scary and messy.

With all of the potential mess, how might we think about a code that helps us along the way?

Many years ago, an incredible psychologist that my brother and I were seeing said something that totally changed the way I thought about telling the truth:

"Your primary responsibility is to tell the truth, and to do so in a way which seeks to preserve the recipient's sense of dignity".

There it is, tell the truth, but avoid being unnecessarily unkind in the process. I would argue this is one of the highest expressions of real and enduring love, both to yourself and others.

Happy Valentine's Day :)


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