Radical Transparency

by Christopher Lovejoy on August 13, 2010 · 11 comments

For as long as I can remember, I’ve always been inquisitive about myself, others, the world at large, the world within, and the world beyond, and though it has been my fervent desire to formulate an account of all of this from a uniquely personal perspective, I haven’t yet felt, until now, any compelling urge to articulate any of this with anything but the broadest of brushstrokes.

In my post, Personal Fulfillment, I outline five essential factors to cultivate a fertile ground of aspiration for success in pursuit of excellence, offering two interpretations of the pinnacle of personal fulfillment and adding four caveats before making any declaration of my promise.

In this post, I share a framework to formulate a vision for the fulfillment of my promise.

And I will prime this promise with the exercise that follows…

A Preliminary Exercise

I know how tempting it is shrink from the responsibility of becoming transparent to my needs and desires, to feel what I feel, and to know myself fully. It can be unsettling, and not many of us can bear to feel insecure or unbalanced for long, if at all, even if it brings long-terms benefits.

The temptation of “just let me go my own way and do my own thing” is all too real, as is the temptation of “I just wanna forget about it all and keep on keeping on,” as is the temptation of pleasing and placating everyone you meet until you lose yourself inside your relationships.

As is the temptation to focus on that one thing you do well to the exclusion of all else.

No one wants to feel like they’ve been compromised in any way, and yet, when you look around, it becomes painfully and blatantly obvious that almost everyone has been conditioned, compromised, or damaged in some way. I know I have, or else I wouldn’t have written this post.

For a long time, I thought I was deficient in some way, but I know better now. Here and now, at some level, everything is perfectly fine just the way it is. At some level, I am perfectly fine just the way I am, right here, right now. And so are you. And so is everyone for that matter.

All else is conditioning and programming driven by fear, guilt, and shame, with all of their sad, attendant, unfortunate outcomes ~ what we’ve been driven to think and feel, say and do, believe and desire.

Knowing this, we have a choice: we can either let the sources and outcomes of our conditioning drive us all towards a kind of oblivion or we can learn to let them go now, or as they come up.

By acting on this choice daily, with the intention of knowing ourselves more fully, as fully as we can, we’ll be well on our way to reclaiming the essence of who and what we are, and this bodes well for promise.

I have some exploratory questions that can serve to catalyze this process of reclamation, but first, I would encourage you to warm yourself up with the exercise that follows below.

This exercise will give you opportunities to both purge and engage, and by no means is it designed to be done once and for all. I invite you to do it whenever you feel motivated or inspired. You might set a timer for, say, three minutes (for you, it might shorter or longer), and complete the following stems as many times as you can within this time frame without censoring what comes up for you.

I need …

I love …

I want …

You might also take your time to complete these stems with an eye towards quality responses; that is, you might set a timer for “I need …” and “I want …”, but take all the time you need for “I love …”.

When I first did this exercise for the sentence stem, “I need …,” (with a time constraint of three minutes), I noticed that it helped me when I typed the stem each and every time before I completed it; doing this served as a stimulus for making the process flow with greater ease. I also noticed the appearance of judgment within myself, like I had to be more than who or what I am. I tended to confuse what I desired with what I needed, and I noticed that I had beliefs that no longer served me.

When I first did this exercise for the stem “I love …,” (without a time constraint), I noticed how easy the responses came. Curiously, I noticed a pronounced emphasis, in most of my responses, on the benefits of being ~ on being who I am, on being at peace, or on just being as I am. I also noticed a complete lack of judgment in myself about myself. In two of my responses, I was surprised to notice an apparent contradiction between loving the idea of “having it all” and loving the idea of “having only what I need when I need it in the moment.” Finally, I noticed a timeless quality of ease and flow as and when I did the exercise without any time constraint.

When I first did this exercise for “I want …” (with a time constraint of three minutes), I noticed a steady and sustained determination in the way I responded to this stem. I noticed how deeply self-focused, self-centered, and self-absorbed I became while doing the exercise, which I attribute partly to the fact that I was doing this exercise with a time constraint. I noticed the same tendency to confuse what I need with what I desire, and curiously, I noticed the appearance of legitimate needs. I also noticed the appearance of desires that seemed more intense than I realized.

Let’s now turn our attention to the exploratory questions.

With answers to these questions, you’ll be ready to make a declaration of your promise, which will set you up to envision the fulfillment of your promise that taps into a sense of infinite possibilities.

A Template for Awareness

When I discussed the five layers that underlie fulfillment in Personal Fulfillment, I took a bottom-up approach. That is, I began with the most basic layer (of seeking to reclaim the totality of your health, fitness, and vitality) and worked my way up to the surface of fulfillment.

You might, however, decide that’s it better for you to work from the top down. That is, you might begin with an exploration of your virtues and values first and then work your way down to see what a healthy, vital commitment to your virtues and values might actually require.

Or, you might even feel it’s best for you to jump into the middle and work from there, either up or down.

Here, I proceed with a bottom-up approach. The following tool of awareness is a template for grounding yourself, to fertilize the ground of your being with the expectation of personal success in pursuit of personal excellence. I encourage you to take as much as time as you need.

I would also encourage you do whatever you need to do to process and release the material that comes up. You might journal your way through this process or talk it out with a trusted confidante while using some formal technique of emotional healing or releasing.

Feel free to adjust the wording of these questions, to add questions of your own, or to leave out others.

One
Totality: Health, Fitness, Vitality

Answer these questions honestly, with as much transparency as you can:

Do I have any persistent challenges related to my health, fitness or vitality that I can resolve now? If so, how might I do so? Am I effectively and efficiently supervising and managing any persistent challenges to my health, fitness, or vitality? If not, what more might I do?

Have I done enough to be as healthy, fit, and vital as I can be? If not, what more can I do to be so?

Do I feel alive, or can I come alive, to my sense of possibility? If not, what more can I do to be so?

Do I have any unfinished business that I would like to resolve? If so, what can I do about them?

Here’s my response to the first question: the health of my skin has generally been a challenge for me ever since my first skin problem came about as a result of working out in a public fitness facility, and years later, as a result of a lotion being applied during a massage.

This same skin problem has appeared, at various times for varying periods of time, on my back, legs, hands, fingers, feet, face, and scalp. I attribute these ongoing difficulties to my own carelessness and lack of resolve, but also to the tenacity of this type of skin problem.

Although much has healed through my commitment to eating a raw, living food diet, I still have some residual difficulties appearing on my face, scalp, hands, and forehead, which I believe can be resolved by tweaking food preferences with a commitment to eating raw, living food.

This declaration can now be made: “To be or become healthy, fit, and vital, I intend to …” For example: “To be healthy, fit, and vital, I intend to fully restore and refresh the health of my skin by tweaking my food preferences and maintaining a commitment to eating raw, living food.”

Two
Viability: Boundaries and Standards

Answer these questions honestly, with as much transparency as you can:

Do I have any weak or rigid boundaries? If so, what can I do to make them stronger or more flexible?

Do I feel easily opposed, challenged, or threatened by anyone or anything? If so, what can I do about it?

Are any of my standards of propriety, success, and excellence too high or too low for my own good?

Am I getting my basic needs met with enjoyable, effortless ease? If not, what can I do about this?

Here’s my response to the first question: while I feel a much stronger sense of myself than I ever have, I am also aware of moments when I realize I haven’t asserted myself as strongly as I would have liked or haven’t maintained as strong a presence as I would have liked.

I’m also aware of moments when I insist that things be a certain way and that the intensity of this insistence can sometimes feel like it’s too much. By the same token, I do have a lot of equanimity around situations where I am faced with a lot of pressure to conform or perform.

I would like to think that I have strong, flexible boundaries, but I also feel that I haven’t sufficiently tested or tried myself in this lifetime, and that I might do more to challenge myself so that I can grow and expand into the fullest expression of myself.

This declaration can now be made: “To have strong, flexible boundaries and appropriate standards, I intend to …”. For example, “To have strong, flexible boundaries and appropriate standards, I intend to put myself in situations where I can grow into the fullest expression of myself.”

Three
Maturity: Freedom and Responsibility

Answer these questions honestly, with as much transparency as you can:

Do I have all the freedom I need to be myself? If not, what can I do to be so?

Am I wholly responsible for myself? If not, what can I do to be more responsible?

Do I contribute to a cause beyond myself? If not, what can I do to make this happen?

Do I need to curb any persistent tendency to blame and/or shame myself, others, or the world at large for any trials, troubles, and tribulations that I might have? If so, what can I do to make this so?

Here’s my response to the first question: I’m fortunate to have much of the freedom that I need to be myself, but to be myself fully and freely, I find that I need to be more transparent with others about what I’m feeling in the moment and to express it with greater ease, so that I might act more in harmony with who I am and what I have, in better alignment with who I expect to be and what I expect to have.

This declaration can now be made: “To be free and fully responsible for myself, I intend to …”. For example, “To be free and fully responsible for myself, I intend to be more transparent with others about what I’m feeling and to express it with greater ease, so that I can act more in harmony with who I am and what I have, in better alignment with who I expect to be and what I expect to have.”

Four
Visibility: Trust and Respect

Answer these questions honestly, with as much transparency as you can:

Do I trust myself? If not, what can I do to be more trusting?

Do I trust others, even if I might not agree with them? If not, what can I do to make this happen?

Do I respect myself? If not, what can I do to be more respecting?

Do I respect others, even if I might not agree with them? If not, what can I do to make this happen?

Here’s my response to the first question: I trust myself not to say or do whatever might compromise me, but I find I could be more trusting of myself when I undertake, or consider undertaking, a new venture that involves the input, assistance, support, or participation of others.

Here, the line between trusting myself and trusting another begins to blur.

The more I can trust myself in relationship, the more I can trust another in relationship, and vice versa. My inner guidance tells me that if I wish to assume a leadership role, it would be best to start with a small group, and grow it from there, with an ever widening circle of influence.

This declaration can now be made: “To trust and respect myself and others fully, I intend to …”. For example, “To trust and respect myself and others fully, I intend to trust in myself and others by undertaking new ventures that involve cooperation or collaboration with others.”

Five
Integrity: Values and Commitment

Answer these questions honestly, with as much transparency as you can:

Have I found what inspires me most? Do I experience this every day? If not, what might I do to make this happen? Am I doing what I love to do and do well? And do I enjoy doing this every day? If not, what can I do to make this happen? Am I following my passion and living my purpose to fully realize what really and truly matters to me? If not, what can I do to make this happen?

Here’s my response to the first question: the ongoing process of understanding and appreciating, articulating and elaborating, the heart and soul of who and what I am informs and inspires me the most. Thankfully, this is a process I experience and enjoy almost each and every day.

This declaration can now be made: “To do what inspires me most, and to experience this every day, I intend to …”. For example, “To do what inspires me most, and experience this every day, I intend to continue the process of elaborating the heart and soul of who and what I am.”

A Summary Declaration

Here’s a budding look at what my summary declaration looks like:

This declaration can now be made: “To be or become healthy, fit, and vital, I intend to …” For example: “To be healthy, fit, and vital, I intend to fully restore and refresh the health of my skin by tweaking my food preferences and maintaining a commitment to eating raw, living food.”

This declaration can now be made: “To have strong, flexible boundaries and appropriate standards, I intend to …”. For example, “To have strong, flexible boundaries and appropriate standards, I intend to put myself in situations where I can grow into the fullest expression of myself.”

This declaration can now be made: “To be free and fully responsible for myself, I intend to …”. For example, “To be free and fully responsible for myself, I intend to be more transparent with others about what I’m feeling and to express it with greater ease, so that I can act more in harmony with who I am and what I have, in better alignment with who I expect to be and what I expect to have.”

This declaration can now be made: “To trust and respect myself and others fully, I intend to …”. For example, “To trust and respect myself and others fully, I intend to trust in myself and others by undertaking new ventures that involve cooperation or collaboration with others.”

This declaration can now be made: “To do what inspires me most, and to experience this every day, I intend to …”. For example, “To do what inspires me most, and experience this every day, I intend to continue the process of elaborating the heart and soul of who and what I am.”

With these partial declarations, I have the beginnings of a summary declaration of my promise, and with this declaration, I can turn it into a compact set of choices to open up a clear path to my fulfillment.

As follows …

I restore the health of my skin by tweaking food preferences with a commitment to eating raw, living food; I enter situations where I grow into a full expression of myself; I remain transparent with others about what I’m feeling, expressing with greater ease, to act more in harmony with who I am and what I have, in better alignment with who I expect to be and what I expect to have; I embody and express a more trust in myself and others by undertaking new ventures in cooperation or collaboration with others; and I continue articulating and elaborating the heart and soul of who and what I am.

These five statements of choice, when articulated and elaborated, will serve as my basis for a vision of the fulfillment of my promise and my person with a sense of infinite possibilities, and will continue to evolve over time as I cultivate a broader and deeper vision of my fulfillment.

Final Thoughts

To help me stay true to my vision, I take to heart the following statement as a credo for my best self.

I am the author of my own experience of reality, as happy and fulfilled as I wish to be. In gratitude, I have whatever I wish, whenever, wherever, and with whomever I wish, and as I continue to follow my inspiration, I find no limits to who I can serve, and no limits to what I can have.

If I resist this statement, it’s likely only because my beliefs in some way have limited my vision of what is possible for me, or else, it’s because I’ve conditioned, programmed, or damaged myself in some way. If this be the case, it’s all too likely that I will settle for less than my best.

In this post, I conjured a radically informed and inspired approach called Radical Transparency to help me prime my promise, to generate and perpetuate a sense of possibility, to transform a set of intentions into a compact set of choices to envision the fulfillment of my promise.

A vision of the fulfillment of your promise and your person, with a cultivated, calibrated sense of possibility, when generated and formulated in harmony with who you really are, can only continue to motivate and inspire you to blaze a trail to fulfillment and realize your best self.

{ 10 comments }

BriteLite August 14, 2010 at 9:18 am

These are tough questions, for the most part, and you expect a lot from your readers in terms of being honest and transparent with themselves. Many if not most people have defenses against knowing the full truth about themselves. You provide a good start, but I feel you need to do more to help others see the truth about who they are and what they can do with their lives. I’m also interested in getting some answers to the questions you didn’t answer. I’m sure you’d have some interesting responses.

Christopher Lovejoy August 14, 2010 at 12:13 pm

Hi BriteLite, I’m looking forward to sharing my responses to more of these questions in future posts. If I may ask, in what way do you feel I could do more to help others see the truth about who they are and what they can do with their lives?

joe Wilner August 15, 2010 at 8:42 am

Christopher,

This is a very comprehensive post with some great exercises. It provides some wonderful opportunities to gain self-awareness and really develop some fundamental character. I agree that everyone is conditioned and a product of their environment. This can stiffle ones willingness to take risks and reach for true desires. By expanding our self-understanding we can start to recognize our place in the bigger picture. Thanks!

Christopher Lovejoy August 15, 2010 at 10:39 am

Hi Joe, welcome, and thanks for the encouragement. I also appreciate your validation.

I like the title of your blog, Shake off the Grind [Update, as of November 1, 2019: I updated the link to Joe’s site (it is no longer called Shake off the Grind]. I believe that it speaks volumes about what needs to happen in this day and age. After a cursory examination of your blog, I decided to subscribe. Looking forward to following your journey of ascendance.

BriteLite August 15, 2010 at 10:29 am

You didn’t introduce your topics and you didn’t explain why it’s important for us to delve more deeply into them. If you expect people to do the smart work of becoming more transparent to themselves, they need something more than questions to move them through their defenses – e.g., art, humor, drama, stories, anecdotes.

Christopher Lovejoy August 15, 2010 at 10:44 am

Hi BriteLite, your comments are well taken by this blogger. I agree with everything you’ve said and I really appreciate you for taking the time to give me your feedback. You’re absolutely right. People do need more than questions to help them move through their defenses. My intent with this blog post was to set up a basic framework for approaching this complex subject so that I could have something to work from in the future. I didn’t want my post to be too long, and so I was selective about what I included, but be rest assured, I will explore the motivational ‘why’ in future writing. Thanks again for your input.

Insight Hunter August 15, 2010 at 10:43 pm

Your post is very similar to my concept of “being yourself” which requires a lot of honesty with oneself and values highly authenticity when looking at oneself. My approach was to take every single belief and value I had and made sure it was my own, and not that of parents, family, friends or society. My method probably would not work for everyone.

The exercises in your post sound like a good start for someone trying to be more honest with themselves. I’m not sure the 5 headings are applicable to everyone, or that they cover everything that might come up in trying to be oneself. Declarations might be a little premature; perhaps working on one thing at a time might help the reader not be overwhelmed.

The credo sounds a little over stated and too much like The Secret for my liking, and not consistent with the world as we know it, but if taken metaphorically, I would have less problems with it.

Christopher Lovejoy August 16, 2010 at 10:59 am

Hi Insight, I would encourage you to read my post again to realize that it’s more about preparing a ground for success and excellence and less about being yourself or being more honest with yourself. The five categories (totality, viability, maturity, visibility, integrity) are somewhat provisional in nature and might be modified, refined, or expanded over time as I do further research, but as they stand now, I believe they provide me with a solid and reliable guide to further my understanding.

I laud you for assuming the task of taking every belief and value you’ve ever had and making it your own. This is not an easy task, even for the most informed and inspired among us. By themselves, however, beliefs and values are just a start. To be truly happy and really fulfilled, we also need to take a close, honest look at our desires, intentions, expectations, aspirations, habitual emotions, attitudes, and behavior patterns. I believe the approach of radical transparency can help many of us to do this and do it well.

Once they do, they’re in a better position to make declarations of their promise, in ways that are outlined in my post, as a basis for generating and formulating a vision of the fulfillment of their promise. There are no timelines for doing this. Everyone is entitled to probing and exploring their own depths to the best of their ability in their own time at their own pace, and perhaps with the assistance and support of those who can help them. I also invited my readers to modify what I presented to better suit their needs.

Finally, the credo I presented is a statement of conviction, for use by those who’d like to aspire to their best selves, while respecting their limits even as they release any attachment to those limits. The credo might not be consistent with the world as you know it, but I’d encourage you to keep an open mind.

Insight Hunter August 16, 2010 at 4:37 pm

I did understand that finding yourself was not the complete focus of your post, but that was just the most relevant part for myself.

The process I went through encompassed all the other things you’ve described above. It was an attempt at complete and total honesty with oneself. Initially, expressive actions that showed my uniqueness and individualism gave me quite an intense high. It lasted a minute or so, but as I grew closer to what I thought was the authentic me, the experience ceased to occur. On the downside, extreme self honesty can lead to social isolation and self-indulgence. In practical terms, you cannot always be yourself and always have to find a balance between it and acceptance within the society you live.

Christopher Lovejoy August 17, 2010 at 8:59 am

For me, being authentic is an experience that expresses, not what I believe to be true about me, but what I know to be true about me. My aim with radical transparency is to be clear and free of any defenses that might prevent me from following a path of personal fulfillment in accordance with a vision of the fulfillment of my promise with a sense of possibility, where honest, wholesome, authentic expression comes easily and naturally.

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