TRIPLE M
Martha Clark Scala
Invest in bringing joy back to your life.
October 2007
 
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October 2007

Congruence

If a waiter asks you if you’re pleased with the meal that was served, and your head shakes “no” by moving from side to side, but your voice says “oh yes, it’s fine,” and your insides say “it’s so-so, but good enough given that I only had a budget of $10.00 for dinner,” you might be having an incongruent moment. If your only association with the word, congruent, takes you back to geometry class, you might be scratching your head right now so let me offer this definition: Personal congruence is present when the outer matches the inner … when what you say with words or with your body matches what you truly feel inside. Why is this important to know? Congruence seems to have a fairly strong correlation to joy. Why else would a variety of traditions prescribe an emphasis on saying what you mean, and meaning what you say?

  • Don Miguel Ruiz distilled ancient Toltec Wisdom in his book, The Four Agreements, and guess what the First Agreement is? “Be impeccable with your word.”
  • Cultural anthropologist and award-winning author Angeles Arrien wrote in The Fourfold Way about four archetypes that can guide us to rich, creative lives. For the Visionary archetype, the task is to tell the truth without blame or judgment.
  • Psychologist Rolllo May said “If you do not express your own original ideas, if you do not listen to your own being, then you will have betrayed yourself.” On the topic of joy, he wrote that “it is based on the experience of one's identity as a being of worth and dignity.”
  • Werner Erhard’s (in)famous est Training, highly popular in the 80’s, placed great emphasis on acting with integrity in pursuit of personal transformation. While his reputation took many hits, even some of his critics acknowledged that Erhard boldly told the truth.
  • Alcoholics Anonymous (AA), a non-denominational 12-step fellowship for those with a desire to stop drinking, encourages the practice of rigorous honesty.
  • Ralph Waldo Emerson wrote “A little integrity is better than any career.”
 
Not Knowing

Back to the waiter who asked about your meal: your body says one thing, your words say another. How do you know which part of you is telling the truth? Perhaps the voice that says “oh yes, it’s fine” really believes that the meal is good, or good enough. Or maybe that voice is steered by what you learned about good manners or a preference for avoiding conflict?

Some say the body doesn’t lie, so perhaps the body’s language is the most reliable. Striving for congruence in this example, you have a body signal sending data to further inform your truth. And to complicate matters further, there isn’t really any absolute truth, is there?

 

Exception

Some traditions take a black and white (see September’s newsletter!) stance. For example, there’s the often-quoted line from the Bible: “the truth shall make you free.” In most cases, greater freedom translates into greater joy, but not always.

There are times and situations when to be congruent, you run the risk of harm. The phrase in one of AA’s 12 Steps comes to mind: “except when to do so would injure them or others.”
If it’s not safe for you to tell your truth such that the inner matches the outer, I see no point in endangering or hurting yourself or someone else.

     

Joy-Gram for October

1) Think of an instance where you may have been incongruent. Ask yourself if being congruent would have seriously injured you or others. If the answer is no, consider the possibility of telling your truth … even if only to yourself.

"If you tell the truth, you don't have to remember anything." - Mark Twain

2) If you want to stir the creative juices (always ultimately a path to joy, if you ask me), I challenge you to Name My Newsletter! Right now, Triple M stands for Martha’s Monthly Missive … but that’s boooooooring! Come up with a better one, and you’ll win a prize!
 

Going Once, Going Twice …

Life Transitions Network’s Online Auction (www.transitionsworkshops.cmarket.com) runs from October 15th to November 5th. Please browse the auction website for some early holiday shopping, or to find a special treat for yourself. I’d like to personally recommend the books of poetry by Barbara Crooker, or Ellen Bass, or Jana McBurney-Lin’s beautiful novel, My Half of the Sky. Roberta Gelt’s hand-crafted jewelry is pretty darned special, too. If you are the highest bidder on any of the items, you will be helping LTN support its workshop scholarship fund. Workshops focus compassionately on the traumas of loss, abuse, illness, dying and death with a combination of teachings, personal sharing, creative processes and deep emotional release work (Externalization Process). For more info on LTN: www.transitionsworkshops.com. Thank you!

 

Martha Clark Scala, MFT 721 Colorado Ave., Suite 201, Palo Alto, CA 94303
info@MCScala.com

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