Gretchen Grimmacing

Sorry about the gross picture.

But it can’t be helped. This week I’ve been telling the truth.

And the truth is not pretty. In fact, she can be pretty darn grotesque sometimes.

All this truth telling is related to the book The Joy Diet, which I’m reading with about 100 other bloggers. One chapter a week, we do the assignments that author Martha Beck suggests. Last time we had to do Nothing for 15 minutes a day. This week…

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…we had to tell ourselves the Truth. She recommended the following series of questions as our primary Truth Excavation Tools (adapted from the powerful work of Byron Katie):

  • What am I feeling?
  • What hurts?
  • What is the painful story I am telling?
  • Can I be sure my painful story is true?
  • Is my painful story working?
  • Can I think of another story that might work better?

Writing Down My Truth

I discovered that I was much more able to tell the truth when I wrote it down; if I just thought about the truth, I easily got distracted.  Here’s what I wrote in my journal one night this week:

I am feeling sad, grateful, and anxious. My back hurts where my bed is digging in. My throat is itchy. My chest vibrates the way it does when I’m being honest.

The painful story I am telling is that I will not have community, friendship, or love when I move to a new apartment.  I am also telling myself that the stress of the move will keep me from focusing on MuseCubes the way I need in order to prepare for the holiday shopping season.

I cannot be sure these painful stories are true. They certainly do not work to bring ease and joy into my life.

Another story I could tell myself is this: I will have community, love and friendship in my new space; those are always available to me, no matter where I live.   I will find the perfect space to accommodate my MuseCubes and I will have exactly enough energy to nurture the business.

The Truth Made Physical

This approach to truth telling is pretty brilliant, if you ask me. The questions cut straight to the core of my hurt, and help me embrace a new, more joyful story.

But there’s a serious flaw to the process — my inner toddler is stubborn!!!  Most of the time when I’m stuck in my hurt, I don’t WANT to embrace the new, happy, glass-is-full story. In fact, I just want to kick all that positivity out the frickin’ window, screaming “Lies! Lies!!  I will NOT find a perfect new apartment and I will NOT have enough time for my business, and you can’t MAKE me!!!”

That’s where exformation comes in.  Exformation is the practice of doing something physical to release all the information — the too muchness! — that we collect throughout our days.

Once a month my friend Beandrea and I meet in her living room to witness each other’s exformation.  Exformation can look like a lot of different things, but for Beandrea and me, it’s a mini-performance. One of us sits and watches; the other stands in the middle of her living room and then spends the next ten minutes (or so) doing whatever we need to do to process our Too Muchness.

Yesterday I yelled, kicked, howled and flung my limbs in a chaotic, crazy dance. Yaaaaaaaaaaa! Bam!! Boom! Awooooooo!!!

Oh that felt good. And I felt soooooo calm at the end of it all.

It occurred to me that exformation is like the truth-telling process from The Joy Diet — only made physical.

What am I feeling? Kick! Growl! Blech!!

What is the story I’m telling myself that causes pain? Life is hard! Life is too much!!

What is a different story I could tell myself? Life is full, and I have all the resources I need to thrive in the fullness!! Growl! Zoom!!! Pfffffft.

Once I’ve released all my Pent Upness, I’m calm enough to actually hear, accept and integrate the reframed story.

Fake Truth versus Real Truth

My big aha! from this week is this: that we need to tell all our truths — the Fake ones and the Real ones.

The Fake Truth is my phrase for what Martha Beck calls “the painful story.” The Fake Truth in my journal entry (above) is that when I move next month, I am going to lose all the community, friendship and love that I experience in my current fabulous housing arrangement. Technically, that’s not true. But it feels true.

Until I let myself feel the truth of my pain about moving, I won’t be willing to accept the Real Truth: that community, friendship, and love are omnipresent in my life and are available no matter where I live.

Offer Compassion to Your Inner Lying Scumbag

Thank goodness that the road to joy is to love ourselves through both the Fake and the Real Truths.

I’m so appreciative of the final step in Martha Beck’s truth telling practice: “Offer compassion to your inner lying scumbag…to the parts of yourself that seem to deserve it least.”

Ahhhhhh. Yes. Thank you.