Honest self-reckoning has great power. In fact, it has the power to change everything. The truth is inherently liberating. And as the timeless adage asserts, it can truly set you free. But the truth is more than liberating. It’s also empowering. Truth, in its essence, is both power and freedom.
In Character Disturbance, I first outlined the 10 Commandments of Character. They’re essential life lessons that must be mastered and embraced to become a wholesome character. And I’ve been busily refining my thoughts on them for my upcoming book Provisions for the Journey. Character development is, after all, a journey – and one to which we’re all called. And the proverbial First Step has to involve honest self-reckoning. We have to admit the truth of matters if we’re to adequately address them. And we have be willing to humbly and faithfully reckon with what we know are our shortcomings if we’re ever to overcome them.
Big Changes Start Small – And with Us
Sometimes it seems the world is a mess. Discord is everywhere. Relationships routinely fall apart. Some say things have always been this way – it’s simply the human condition. But others say things have gotten worse. Regardless, we know things need to change. But how do we make that happen?
We know what won’t solve our character problems. We’ve tried legislating the solution. And we actually have millions of laws on the books. We’ve tried punishing our way to behavioral health, too. And we have a higher percentage of our population incarcerated or restrained in some way than any other free society. We’ve tried using the might of powerful weapons and military forces to impose order, too. But has anything really changed for the better in the world? History repeatedly says “NO!” But we keep doing the same things, expecting different results. Crazy, huh?!
There is a clear, proven pathway for change. And it’s the same pathway for each individual as it is for the world as a whole. We’ve tried changing minds. And we’ve tried coercing behavior. But we haven’t done well at changing hearts. And that’s how big changes happen – one heart at a time, beginning with our own.
The Big Lie
We’re all great deceivers. Some among us deceive others purely to abuse and exploit them. (See: In Sheep’s Clothing.) But many more of us deceive ourselves. Why? It’s just easier that way. Progressively making ourselves a better person is hard work. And we’re innately creatures of economy. Accordingly, growing ourselves in character is inherently unattractive. It takes dedication and commitment, too. But it’s that very kind of labor that defines real love.
Disturbed characters hate most kinds of work. And they have a special distaste for what we call labors of love. Some think they’re above it. Others are simply at odds with it, detesting subordination to any higher power. But none of us relishes the work. For one thing, it’s hard to see the value in it. So, we ask, “What’s in it for us?.” Well, for one thing, healing – and not just for ourselves, but for everyone, and the whole world.
Liberty and Power
I have a lot more to say on this topic on this week’s edition of the “new” Character Matters. Follow link link here to access the latest podcast.
4 thoughts on “The Power of Honest Self-Reckoning”
Have a former co-worker that I’ve stayed in contact with for many years. He’s was raised old school Armenian. He’s the boss, and he has very limited emotional capacity for dealing with others. He has limited ability to listen (really listen) and relate/empathize with others. He’s basically emotionally unavailable and needs to be in control. He’s a skilled mechanic and lives to work. He works hard and does good work. I accept him as he is. I understand he’s not capable of really connecting. So when I interact with him, I set my expectations accordingly. He seems to care in his way. He has cognitive empathy. When I need work done on my car, I pay him to do it. He will often do things just because he sees it’s an issue and just takes care of it (and does not charge me). Or if it’s something he can’t do b/c he doesn’t have the equipment, he’ll tell me exactly what I need and how much it should cost. He makes sure I know what to tell the shop so they realize I know what I’m talking about so they won’t take advantage.
Just found out he has stage 4 cancer. It didn’t spread to just one organ, but many. I feel so bad for him. He’s still fighting hard and determined to beat it. He beat lymphoma 15 years ago and believes he can do it again.
He believes in God, but I believe he really struggles to submit to a higher power. He’s a real dominant type personality. He’s pretty aggressive with the doctor and call the doc on his BS and boundary crossing. (two controlling people clashing) His doctor put in the notes that the prognosis was poor and he went off on him. (In my opinion the doctor should have had the discussion with him rather than put it in a note, but since he is so aggressive, my guess is the doctor didn’t feel comfortable. Still, it should be a gentle conversation, not sprung on him in a note).
I think it really shook him (understandably) and I believe poked at his belief he can beat it. It’s such a difficult thing to accept and I can imagine even more so for him because he’s so identified with being in control. As most of us know, lots of things are out of our control.
My experience with cancer and in talking with others, we have to do a lot of mental gymnastics and balance hope/faith and realism. Sometimes fear takes over, sometimes acceptance does. Doing my best to support him as best I can. Mostly by listening and validating what I can. Don’t think he has many other cancer survivors that can even remotely relate to what he’s dealing with. But I can’t really grasp it either and I imagine he feels very alone in this.
This is an excellent topic and I think is one of the most important topics thus far.
I am not trying to blame anyone or minimize what they have gone through. However, the real change has to come from us to us. Truth does set one free but it is also very painful to look in the mirror and admit the change has to come from oneself.
Instead I have to look to myself and it isn’t easy. Many things were second nature due to my environment and also what the world dictates at the time is acceptable behavior. However, deep inside I felt something was wrong. The only power I have is over myself and being honest with oneself and taking responsibility for it is not easy. Its a start and one step at a time and with work like JC talks about it becomes easier.
I hope you delve further into this topic in the future.
I have found alanon to be a great source for getting to know myself better and the truth about myself. If I can see some of the dysfunctional thinking and behavior that I am responsible for, I could work to replace it with healthier behavior. I can’t change anyone else but I can change myself and that is empowering.
I attended Alanon decades ago and it was a big help to me. The only problem for me was I thought because my X didn’t drink, smoke or do drugs he was safe. At that time in my life I had no clue what narcissism really was. Reading the book Verbal Abuse was a real eye opener for me, then I found Dr. Simon’s book In Sheep’s Clothing and that brought me to his blog.
I have to say I have used the 12 Steps many times in my life and it can be used for many problems. Most of all, prayer was my life line.
It was a hard lesson for me to accept and learn that I couldn’t change someone. I kept thinking if I said or did the right things it would open their eyes. Yes, the only one I can change is myself and you are right, it is empowering.