When I started my honesty project/goal/intention/resolution(whatever), I had no idea that surrender would be such a huge part of honesty.
Honesty is a clear, bold, brave acknowledgement of and commitment to truth. Of what is. That means that to be honest and live honestly, we have to go beyond the appearance of things: what we think is, what we think might be, perhaps even what we think should be, and what we want to be true.
What else makes this move but surrender? A surrender of our assumptions or beliefs, and a surrender to the truth of what actually is.
As I made a point to be honest in situations where my instinct was to be dishonest or deferential, I found myself consciously needing to reject certain beliefs, dispositions, behaviors. I found I needed to let some things go in order to embrace and embody honesty. I surrendered:
- Desire for affirmation from a particular friend
- An image of myself as being a particular kind of person (aka, as having a particular quality)
- A desire to be perfect
- Perhaps more accurately, a belief that I can be perfect. (I guess this applies to all my desires — don’t they all include a belief about the realness [because it has potential to be “owned”] of the thing desired?)
- A fear of being disliked / a need to be liked
- A fear of being disapproved of / a need for approval
- The belief that “if I don’t have/do this thing, all will be lost” (this applies to several things in my life right now! I am good at all or nothing thinking)
- My desire and hope to understand Hegel’s Phenomenology of Spirit thoroughly and completely in one semester (HAHAHAHA DEAR SWEET BABY JANA YOU ARE SO ADORABLE AND DUMB)
- A picture of the way I want(ed) my life to turn out
- Opportunities I’ve long wanted to keep open and realized were only serving to stress me out
Things I have found myself surrendering to:
- The limitations of my body (Remember when I thought my sciatica was getting better? HAHAHAHA DEAR SWEET BABY JANA YOU ARE SO ADORABLE AND DUMB. Herniated discs are A BLAST.)
- The good and bad of desires delayed
- The release of not caring so much that I am liked or approved of
- The slight increase in bitchiness and DGAFness as I start to care less about the approval of others (oops..).
- The reality of an uncertain life
- The joy and gratitude that comes out of recognizing life is inherently uncertain
- The fear that comes out of recognizing life is inherently uncertain
- The really, truly, fantastically beautiful and lucky things about my life
- My moods (I don’t act out of all of them, but I let them be what they are without expecting myself to be supportive or sanguine all the time)
- A (more) grace-filled acknowledgement and acceptance of the inherent differences, difficulties, and limitations of people
- The good things I am and have done and am doing and could do
- The limitations of my intellectual abilities (HEGEL YOU BASTARD)
In all this, I’m not saying I’ve mastered or fully understand surrender, nor that I did all the above “surrenderings” perfectly. (“I mastered honesty in 8 weeks, SUCKERS.”) Surrender has just been a consistent part of my inner life as I work towards honesty these past few weeks. In a remarkably consistent and deep way.
Because my efforts towards honesty have been so pervasively colored by surrender, it occurred to me that the surrender central to honesty is not just an action to take, but a disposition to cultivate.
In order to be honest, we have to be prepared to surrender false notions at any time. Just as the act of honesty is an act of surrender, the disposition of honesty is a disposition of surrender.
That means that we must hold all our beliefs and opinions, even the ones we are certain we are most certain of most certainly, with open hands. To be ready to admit when our inherent fallibility and limitations have colored too much of what we believe. To be confident, but never certain. Decisive, but never dogmatic.
The best “honest” we can be with opinions (and anything, really), is simply to say “This is what I think to be true right now.” Or, more precisely, “This is what I think I am thinking to be true right now.” It’s less a statement on what is true about the external world and more what is true about our current state of being (which is still murky to us in many respects, but we can grasp what appears to be the case about ourselves fairly easily!).
I don’t mean to get too Cartesian or Kantian (I hope we can know the world beyond ourselves!), and in doing so I’m sure Hegel would slap my hand (and reading Hegel is probably starting to erode whatever lucidity I had heretofore developed in my writing style). I just find it really fascinating that my practice of and commitment to honesty has come with the necessity of practicing release and surrender. Not holding onto things so tight is nice.
And I’m really good at surrender! I just tend to surrender the wrong things, as people pleasers are wont to do. So I need to train my surrender to be directed towards the right things, the things that need to be surrendered and the truths that need to be surrendered to. That discernment is the hard part.