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by David Truman
This world is starving for sincerity. Rather than being sincere and openhearted, many people habitually protect themselves by pulling in their horns, hiding their hearts, and presenting a mask to the world instead of their true selves. The result -- a dry and unsatisfactory existence.
We human beings have become too strategic in our social participation. We are raised to "think before we speak," to be circumspect, diplomatic, and tactful. People have replaced heartfelt exchanges with clever dialogue, and sincere expression with carefully considered statements. Because of all that, we are not truly available to one another. We are not open and emotionally connected to one another.
And yet, sincerity is the key to a rich and fulfilling life. Imagine if people would be sincere. We all know that if our loved ones would be themselves, both our lives and theirs would improve drastically. And, if we would be sincere, how much sweeter life would be! Imagine if you were to actually share the passion, intelligence, and feeling that you know you have.
To restore sincerity, honesty, and genuineness to life would make it possible for love to succeed, for relationships to be deep and meaningful, and for human beings to truly evolve -- because you can't build anything true on a lie. For all these things to happen, we need to be and express our beautiful selves sincerely.
Why people have a hard time being sincere
Most people are afraid of being sincere. They feel compelled to adopt some carefully constructed persona in place of expressing their real heart, even with their closest friends and intimates. Why?
Because they don't know who they really are. Or, they do know who they are, but they are programmed to dislike it, hate it, and want to hide it and change it.
To show one's true face in public requires self-confidence -- confidence in the beautiful self you are, that God made you to be. But most people are ashamed of themselves. Because people have not accepted the good and loving impulses of their hearts as authentic, they assume that true goodness has to be an act; that sincerity necessarily means being bad, irritable, mediocre, obnoxious, mean, etc. -- whatever they think is "authentic" for them. Given that this is what people think, it's understandable that they should be afraid to be sincere.
We have a saying here in the West: "If you don't have anything nice to say, don't say anything at all." Accordingly, when people view themselves as being full of ugliness, they will not express themselves. They let a fake public persona do the talking for them, because they don't believe their true self is capable of succeeding with people.
As a result of this psychology, most people spend their entire life developing their "social skills." They learn to act perfectly gentile, diplomatic, careful, cowed, and polite. But because of these sophisticated adaptations, they are disadvantaged socially. They cannot express themselves authentically. They cannot be known. They cannot be loved for who they are. They are alienated, lonely, and lost, because they will not put forth their actual heart.
The truth is: The false self will not help anybody succeed with people. It is the true self, and only the true self, that is capable of being truly social. It is only when you are sincere that you can have real love, and a real social life.
But to be genuine, we need to cast off our false ideas about who we are, and what it would mean for us to be sincere. We need to accept that God created us good and loving, and therefore it is natural, and sincere, for us to be good and loving.
Sincerity is where happiness can be found
That we are good and loving is proven by the fact that whenever we are ourselves, it creates tremendous happiness, in ourselves and in others.
For example, when people go to an encounter group, and the facilitator gets them to strip down to a core expression and be truly genuine, they may be terrified at first, but afterward, they are astounded, amazed, even rejuvenated, because they communicated something honest. Most likely, they hadn't opened up in years. So now, when they finally do, they experience elation.
We see, too, in relationships of any kind, that true sincerity has only good results. Most people will agree that the best moments of their lives were when they gave somebody their real heart, and that person gave theirs. We never remember those moments with shame or horror. On the contrary, they are precious to us.
Granted, sometimes people think they are being sincere when they are really expressing selfishness or pent-up anger and ugliness. But that is not true sincerity. The fact that we feel ashamed after such incidents only proves that it wasn't our true heart that was being expressed. Our true heart actually disapproves of that behavior.
Usually, when we apologize after such events, our first words are something like this: "I feel bad about the horrible things I said the other day. I didn't really mean it." In that, we are admitting that we are not being sincere when we mistreat people. Those feelings are not authentically us.
When we are real with somebody, really real, even for just a moment, it is liable to create a deep and heartfelt connection with the person. We see the truth of this when men go to war, and become permanently bonded to those in their battalion. Why? Because in the midst of all the trauma, all the violence and fear, there were moments when they let down their guard and expressed something real. These men are joined for life. Those moments of honesty are treasured by them forever. And their relationships to one another are often more heartfelt than what they have with their wives, simply because they won't be sincere with their wives.
But what a sad commentary on our culture, that a person needs to go to an encounter group and pay $500 for the experience of being themselves -- or worse, go to war! Clearly, true happiness will not be found until we can be sincere under ordinary circumstances, within our everyday activities and our ongoing relationships. If we brought our true hearts to ordinary life, then ordinary life would be extraordinary. No more loneliness, dissatisfaction, or lack of love -- all because the true self is extraordinary. It is powerful, loving, and absolutely beautiful.
You can't build a relationship on a lie
In order for any relationship to be fulfilling, the people involved have to be themselves. It's impossible to love a mask, and it's impossible to be loved by a mask. So, when most people walk around with masks on, what happens to love? What happens to human relationship? It becomes superficial, dull, and unsatisfactory.
Here is a common conversation between husband and wife:
Maude: "Harold, we really have to talk."
Harold: "What do you mean? We talked this morning. You told me you were going to the parent-teacher meeting tonight, and I told you I was going bowling with Bob. So what do you want?"
Maude: "But Harold, we have to REALLY talk, HEART TO HEART. We haven't done that in years. What's happening to us? We're becoming automatons of superficial talk."
How tragic that it has become the norm in society for relationships to be so disappointing. It's not only in marriages that we have this problem; friendships are often equally disappointing, all because people will not share their hearts with one another. They will not be real.
When will we give life meaning by being honest, true, and sincere? If a person is sincere, they can be sincerely yours. But what if they're not? Then they are "insincerely yours." Nobody can have anybody who is insincere.
To enjoy truly intimate and satisfying exchanges with our loved ones, we need to throw off our masks and be ourselves with one another. That means: take the risk of being honest, of showing your heart, of giving your love. Don't hide your emotion, your care, your devotion, your passion. Because if you do, you are only contributing to the dry and superficial world your heart finds so obnoxious.
Insincere with God
The problem of insincerity is not limited to the realm of human relationships and social engagement. Even God has to deal with false personas. Given how unaccustomed people are to being sincere with one another, that's not surprising. Often, when people pray or meditate, instead of bringing their real heart to God, they will say and be what they think they should. That's almost like asking your social secretary to make a phone call for you. But God would prefer to talk to you.
Many people intuit that sincerity is the key to a real relationship with God, so they try to be sincere with God. But that's where they slip up. Trying to be sincere is a contradiction in terms.
One way that people try to be sincere with God is mood-hype. A well-known example of mood-hype is when a child wants a toy for her birthday, but is told that she can't have it. She will work herself up into a terrible sorrow, and wander about the house moaning and wailing. The child feels devastated about not getting what she wants, but her parents know that as soon as she's distracted with something else, she'll go back to being perfectly happy again.
Similarly, when talking to God, people may try to generate spiritual fervor, terrible guilt over their sins, or whatever they think is the appropriate feeling to bring to God.
The problem is, God cannot respond to fake spiritual desire, because God respects free will. God respects your actual choices about what you want to be and have. Hyped up spiritual desires are as subject to change as a child's moods. God cannot take them too seriously.
And when it comes to hyped guilt, the problems are myriad. The common idea -- that a person should come to God as a wretch and a sinner -- puts God in a terrible position. God knows you already have the power and the inclination to live a truly good and spiritual life. God knows you're not a terrible sinner. But if you want to believe that you are, what can God do for you?
Once again, the cause of these problems is that people don't know who they are. Because of their false self-image, the average person is convinced that to come before God sincerely, they must come as a wretch, and that anything else would be hypocritical and contrived. They do not recognize that they already have all that it takes to be close to God and to live a truly spiritual life, because God already created it in them.
There is no authentic spirituality that can arise from an illusory self-model. To live as a sincere illusion -- such as, a sincere wretch -- is not true sincerity. True sincerity can only be attained when you know who you are: the son or daughter of God -- loving, sincere, honest, courageous, and kind.
Many people believe that God created them good, but then fall into yet another pitfall. Unable to accept their actual goodness, they put on "spiritual" masks. "Enlightened" personas. Whatever their idea of a spiritual person is, they try to be that. This, too, is an error. It prevents people from realizing the true goodness that God made in them. It doesn't matter what mask you wear, it's still a mask. Whether a person puts on a scary Halloween mask, a devil mask, or an angel mask, they're still hiding their real face. If you truly accept your Divine nature, you don't need to create simulations of it.
So, next time you approach God, don't send your social secretary, don't put on your mask. Don't try to be what you think is spiritual, acceptable, or likely to bring you closer to God. Just come as you are; express what is really true. When you come to God with this intention, even if you unknowingly bring God false ideas of self, God will point them out to you. God has the patience and the compassion for that. You just need to have the intention.
It would have been enough
There's a Jewish song of praise that goes: "It would have been enough." The worshippers sing God's praises, saying how it would have been enough if God had only done this or that, but God piled one wonderful gift on top of another.
In the same way, there are many beautiful facets of who you are. To give any part of your self would be enough to create real beauty. Any genuine expression on your part -- a genuine smile, a genuine wink, a few genuine words -- would spark love and happiness. Such is your extreme value and wealth.
So, you don't need to become 100% genuine right away. Sure, that's what you want in the long run. But for now, start just by giving something more of your true heart. More than what you are used to giving. And that will be enough to transform your life and relationships.
by David Truman
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