manipulation of the work

“Ease is the sign that it’s the right path.”
“I just need to speak my truth.”
“It must be meant to be.”
“I needed to practice self-care.”

It’s critically important that as you begin to do personal work, you notice when you might (unintentionally) start to manipulate the work.

For hustlers, to hear that “Ease is the sign that it’s the right path,” might feel like seeing a mirage in a desert of exhaustion. For the people who hold everything in, “Speaking your truth” might feel like the permission slip you were never given. “It must be meant to be,” can feel like the salve, the only available wisdom, in disappointing circumstances. “I needed to practice self-care” can be the wisest choice, for some over-achievers.

And then–then–oh, then–then there are the times when Ego and fear play these statements, and play us, in the process.

For instance, I’ve heard someone say, “Well, ease is the sign that it’s the right path for me.”

And here’s what I know: Yes, ease is one of the signs that something is in alignment with your life. And of course, I don’t believe that everything worth doing is always hard.

But boilerplate, “Ease is how I know this is right?” That attitude can really rob someone of an incredible learning experience. I spent years of my own life resisting going into the hard stuff, always choosing whatever was easy. Finally, when I surrendered to dealing with the hard stuff, on the other side of incredible and deep discomfort is where I’ve found my greatest joy.

Or how about, “I just need to speak my truth?”

For years, I used and abused that one. Having come from a place where I was afraid to speak my truth, I couldn’t wait to get started: Speak my truth? Why, it was just what I’d been waiting for! If someone didn’t like it, they must be someone who was encouraging me not to speak my truth. They must be “tone policing.” Bad friend!

But you see where I’m going with this, don’t you?

Using “I need to speak my truth” to put someone down, offer unsolicited advice, judge others, or tear into someone’s character is a manipulation of the work. “Speak your truth” is intended to help people to come out of hiding, to have the courage to bring to everyone’s awareness even those things that might be difficult.

It’s not a permission slip to do damage. It’s a permission slip to voice something in service to greater connection–either greater connection to who you are, or greater connection to another.

Others–

“It was meant to be.”
Maybe. Or maybe it wasn’t, and telling yourself that is your way of avoiding dealing with deep feelings of disappointment.

“I just needed to practice self-care.”
Maybe. Or maybe you’re prettying up an old, chronic pattern of not finishing what you start.

Bottom line? Ease can be a sign of the right path–and it can be a cop-out to avoid challenging yourself. Speaking your truth can be liberation–and it can be an illusory cage, in which all that talking doesn’t really get you where you actually hope to go. What’s “meant to be” can be acceptance–or it can be avoidance. What you call “self-care” could actually be your attempt to put lipstick on that old pig, procrastination.

So how do you know the difference? Well, I think that deep down, you probably always know the difference between the truth and a lie. In your body, you know.

This is why self-help and personal growth isn’t just the cognitive-behavioral work of the head. It’s also the work of the body, of the heart. Your head, your intellect, can rationalize all of it a few different ways. It can manipulate like crazy.

The heart is more interested in truth, than in manipulation.

Deep within, the truth of you knows. Check in.