Just Say The Thing

speak the truth

My friend and mentor George Haas likes to say, “in order to be fully authentic, you have to be fully willing to be abandoned.” It’s hard to overestimate how scary authenticity can be. That thing you want to say, that perfect, unique expression that just arises, can be so terrifying to actually voice that it seems not to be an option. Maybe you rationalize your way out of it. Maybe you don’t even hear it in the first place.

Consciously or unconsciously, each one of us finds a compromise—a middle ground between utterly opaque and utterly transparent. We pare down our authenticity until the fear of abandonment can be managed. We sugar-coat and acquiesce. We keep things to ourselves and hold grudges.

Sometimes it really isn’t safe. Sometimes our trust hasn’t been earned. No one wants to reveal their wounds to a bully, asking to be victimized. But so often, we move forward into relationships driven primarily by fear. Half-seen, half-trusting. And relationships only realize half their potential.

How can I be at ease with someone when I know that they don’t know how things really are for me?

We want so desperately to be seen, so let’s risk it! Let’s learn to hold the discomfort and express our authenticity. Let’s lovingly tend to that scared part inside. It takes time, building up emotional awareness and resilience. It takes discernment and patience, sometimes moving stepwise into authenticity as a friend or companion does the same. And yes, it takes a willingness to be abandoned. Not everyone will accept this new offering. This new person who you really are. But in the vacancies, new relationships will emerge that you can fully trust. Fully value. In which you can feel fully safe.

As I see it, a spiritual life is not about escape. It’s not about isolation. It’s not about figuring out how to “go it alone.” The real spiritual warrior practices to show up in the world, in community, in relationships. In every mundane moment, effortlessly authentic. In every interaction, exquisitely kind and fearlessly complete.

Ending the Fight


Very often, this question comes up:

I know I’m supposed to let go of craving and aversion, but I have preferences and desires in my life that I don’t want to give up! How can I reconcile this?

The solution is to distinguish between objective circumstances and sensory events. With mindfulness, we’re taking about loosening the push/pull on sensory events. For example, not needing an unpleasant emotion to go away or a distracting thought to stop. Those internal experiences may still be unpleasant or distracting, but if we are not compelled immediately into reactivity, a space opens up.

In that space, we have the freedom to choose how best to work with the objective circumstances that might be causing them (for example, being overworked, being in a bad relationship, not having eaten lunch, and so on). When there’s something we can do, we do it. Our logic and patience remains in tact. We use kind language and navigate situations with more grace. But even when we can’t change objective circumstances, we suffer profoundly less, seeing deeply that the suffering is not in the unpleasant thoughts/feelings themselves, but rather, in our resistance to them.

So in short, we should do whatever we can to improve our objective circumstances (within the bounds of ethics). Mindfulness simply shows us how to end the fight with sensory events.


Guillaume-Nery_11Even when were scattered. Even when we’re doubting. Even when there’s resistance. For every ounce of attention, for every sidelong glance at the way things are, some hidden stone is being turned, somewhere in the depths, and the change that takes place is a change we cannot hope to witness directly. We can only see it’s reflection–in our thinking, in our actions, in our relationships.


When we decide that we are worthy, when we decide that we are good enough, there is no need to hide, and the world becomes safe.