Radical Transparency

by Christopher Lovejoy on August 13, 2010 · 11 comments

For as long as I can remember, I’ve been very 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 any compelling urge to articulate any of it with anything but the broadest brushstrokes.

Until now.

In my previous post, Personal Fulfillment, I outlined five essential factors to cultivate a fertile ground of expectation for your success and excellence. I also provided two interpretations of the pinnacle of your personal fulfillment before I added four caveats to caution you before making any declaration of your promise.

In this post, my aim is simply this: to give you a framework by which, with which, and from which you can generate and formulate a vision of the fulfillment of your promise.

To begin, I’d like to give you an opportunity to prime your promise with an exercise.

A Preliminary Exercise

I know how easy it is shrink from the responsibility of becoming wholly transparent to your needs and desires so that you can know yourself fully and to feel your feelings fully. It can be unsettling to do so, and not many of us want to feel insecure or unbalanced for long, if at all, even if it might bring long-terms benefits.

And so, the temptation of “let me go my own way and do my own thing” is all too real; the temptation of “I just wanna forget about it and keep on keeping on” is strong; the temptation to please and placate everyone you meet until you lose yourself inside your relationships might have great allure for you, as might the temptation to focus on that one thing you do well to the exclusion of everything and everyone 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.

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

Knowing this, you have a choice: you can either continue to let the sources and outcomes of your conditioning to drive you towards a kind of oblivion within yourself or you can learn to let them go, deliberately, or as they come up.

By acting on this choice daily, with the intention of knowing yourself more fully, as fully as you can, you’ll be well on your way to reclaiming the essence of who and what you are. And this bodes extremely well for realizing your promise.

I have some exploratory questions for you that can serve to catalyze your process of reclamation.

But first, I would encourage you to warm yourself up with the following exercise. It’ll give you opportunities to both purge yourself and engage yourself. And by no means is it designed to be done once and for all. You can do it whenever you feel 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 …

Or, you might just take your time and complete these stems with an eye towards getting quality responses (for example, 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 “I need …” (with a time constraint of three minutes), I noticed that it helped when I typed the item each and every time before completing it; doing this served as a stimulus for making the process flow with greater ease. I noticed the appearance of judgment within myself, like I had to be more than who or what I am. I also noticed that 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 “I love …” (without a time contraint), I noticed how easy the responses came to me. I noticed a pronounced emphasis, in my responses, on the benefits of being – on being who I am, on being at peace, on just being. I also noticed a complete lack of judgment 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 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 with a sense of possibility.

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.

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 values first and then work your way down to see what a healthy, vital commitment to your values might require.

Or, you might even feel that 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 and for fertilizing your ground of expectation for success and excellence. Take as much as time as you need.

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

And 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:

  1. Do I have any challenges related to health, fitness or vitality that I can resolve now? If so, how can I do so?
  2. Am I effectively managing any persistent challenges to my health, fitness, or vitality? If not, what more can I do?
  3. 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?
  4. Do I feel alive, or can I come alive, to my sense of possibility? If not, what more can I do to be so?
  5. Do I have any unfinished business from the past that I would like to resolve? If so, what can I do about them?

To help you get started, here’s my response to the first question: the health of my skin has been a challenge for me, ever since my first skin problem that 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. The same skin problem has appeared, at various times for varying periods of time, on my back, legs, hands, 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 I can resolve by tweaking my food preferences and maintaining my commitment to eating raw, living foods.

With your answers to these questions, you can make this declaration: “To be or become healthy, fit, and vital, I intend to …”.

For example, “To be healthy, fit, and vital, I intend to fully restore the health of my skin by tweaking my food preferences and maintaining my commitment to eating raw, living foods …”.

Two
Viability: Boundaries, Standards

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

  1. Do I have any weak or rigid boundaries? If so, what can I do to make them stronger or more flexible?
  2. Do I feel easily opposed, challenged, or threatened by anyone or anything? If so, what can I do about it?
  3. Are any of my standards of propriety, success, and excellence too high or too low for my own good?
  4. Am I getting my basic needs met with enjoyable, effortless ease? If not, what can I do about this?

To help you get started, 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 have a lot of equanimity in situations where I’m faced with a 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.

With your answers to these questions, you can make this declaration: “To have strong, flexible boundaries and appropriate standards, I intend to …”.

For example, “To have strong, flexible boundaries and appropriate standards, I intend to do more to put myself in situations where I can grow and expand into the fullest expression of myself …”

Three
Maturity: Freedom, Responsibility

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

  1. Do I have all of the freedom I need to be myself? If not, what can I do to be so?
  2. Am I fully responsible for myself? If not, what can I do to be more responsible?
  3. Do I contribute to a cause beyond myself? If not, what can I do to make this happen?
  4. Do I need to curb any tendency to blame and/or shame others for any trials, troubles, and tribulations that I might have? If so, what can I do to make this so?

To help you get started, 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.

With your answers to these questions, you can make this declaration: “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:

  1. Do I trust myself fully? If not, what can I do to be more trusting?
  2. Generally speaking, do I trust others, even if I might not agree with them? If not, what can I do to make this happen?
  3. Do I respect myself fully? If not, what can I do to be more respecting?
  4. Generally speaking, do I respect others, even if I might not agree with them? If not, what can I do to make this happen?

To help you get started, here’s my response to the first question: I trust myself not to say or do anything that might compromise me in any way, but I find that I could be more trusting of myself when I undertake, or consider undertaking, a new venture that might involve 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, then it would be best for me to start with a small group, and then grow it from there, with an ever widening circle of influence.

With your answers to these questions, you can make this declaration: “To trust and respect myself and others fully, I intend to …”.

For example, “To trust and respect myself and others fully, I intend to cultivate more trust in myself and others by undertaking new ventures that involve cooperation or collaboration with others …”.

Five
Integrity: Values, Commitment

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

  1. Have I discovered what inspires me most? Do I experience it every day? If not, what can I do to make this happen?
  2. Am I doing what I love to do and do well? Do I enjoy doing this every day? If not, what can I do to make this happen?
  3. 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?

To help you get started, here’s my response to the first question: the ongoing process of understanding, appreciating, and articulating the heart and soul of who and what I am inspires me the most. Thankfully, this is something I get to experience and enjoy each and every day.

With your answers to these questions, you can make this declaration: “To do what inspires me most, and to experience it every day, I intend to …”.

For example, “To do what inspires me most, and to experience it every day, I intend to continue the ongoing process of understanding, appreciating, and articulating 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:

“To be healthy, fit, and vital, I intend to fully restore the health of my skin by tweaking my food preferences and maintaining my commitment to eating raw, living foods …”.

“To have strong, flexible boundaries and appropriate standards, I intend to do more to put myself in situations where I can grow and expand into the fullest expression of myself …”.

“To be free and fully responsible for myself, I intend to be more transparent with others about what I’m feeling in the moment 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 …”.

“To trust and respect myself and others fully, I intend to cultivate more trust in myself and others by undertaking new ventures that involve cooperation or collaboration with others …”.

“To do what inspires me most, and to experience it every day, I intend to continue the ongoing process of understanding, appreciating, and articulating 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 summary declaration, I can turn it into a compact set of choices to open up a clear path to my fulfillment.

So, for example  …

“I maintain my commitment to eating raw, living foods …; I enter situations where I can grow and expand into the fullest expression of myself …; I express my feelings more easily, to be more transparent in my interactions with others …; I cultivate more trust in myself and others to expand and experience an ever widening circle of influence; I feel inspired to broaden and deepen the essence of who I am by continuing to understand, appreciate, and articulate the heart and soul of who I am …”.

These statements of choice, when articulated and sufficiently elaborated, will serve as a vision of the fulfillment of my promise with a sense of possibility, and will likely evolve over time as I cultivate a broader and deeper vision of my fulfillment.

Final Thoughts

To help you stay true to your vision, you might wish to take to heart the following statement as a credo for your best self:

I am the author of my own experience of reality and I’m as happy and as fulfilled as I wish to be. With persistent gratitude, I can have whatever I wish, whenever, wherever, and with whomever I wish, and when I have the integrity to follow my highest excitement, moment by moment, there are no limits to who I can be or become, and no limits to what I can have, say, or do.

If you resist this statement, it might be because your beliefs limit your vision of what is possible for you. Or it might be because you’ve been conditioned, compromised, or damaged in some way.

If that is the case, then it’s all too easy to settle for less than your best.

In this post, I used an approach called Radical Transparency to help you prime your promise, to generate a sense of possibility, to transform a five-tiered set of intentions into a compact set of choices to envision the fulfillment of your promise.

A vision of the fulfillment of your promise with a cultivated sense of possibility, when generated and formulated in harmony with who you really are, inspires you to follow a path of fulfillment to realize your best self.

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{ 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. 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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