Tell the truth to yourself

Jerzy Gregorek on the Tim Ferriss podcast #228, at around 19:00:

Naval Ravikant, recounting his first visit to Jerzy, says “. . . and you called me fat.”

Laughing, Jerzy replies, “I didn’t call you fat. You were fat.”

This is subtle but powerful. Naval is trying to lay off blame for his physical condition in his words. Jerzy brings him back to objective reality.

I’m absolutely sure that Naval would not consciously choose to think this way, but the words betray what his brain was doing.

Never blame.

I do it all the time, subtly.

I did a Blame Game last weekend. For two days, full days, I worked to prepare a speech. Saturday and Sunday. My family already left for vacation and I stayed behind because of this commitment. The air conditioning in the office was on bullshit mode so it was stuffy and hot.

I wrote about this, of course. When confused or agitated, write. The first sentence I wrote was “I have to do (this task).”

That was a lie. I lied to myself.

I didn’t have to do the work. I chose to do this work. I said yes. Me. I volunteered for the responsibility.

“I have to do X” is self-pity expressing itself. Self-pity corrodes the soul.

A minor miracle happened–I recognized what I had told myself. With that awareness, I was free. The task (preparing a hard technical topic for a speech, then recording it) ceased to have any emotional sting. Now my time in front of the computer became simply “do” instead of “watch myself doing and tell myself how much I’m suffering while I’m doing”.

Rigorous self-honesty is the hardest of all honesties. Self does not want to reveal self to self. Yet in this situation it happened for me. Why? Probably because my spiritual hygiene is good at the moment — talking to God, doing the reading, writing like this.

It’s easy to be honest with another person: you get an ego boost. “Look at how that cashier made mistake and gave me an extra dollar in my change and I returned it.”

Strive for rigorous self-honesty.

Oh. And remember for next time you’re in a stuffy office with no air conditioning on the weekend: flip-flops, running gear, get the t-shirt damp. Evaporative cooling.

Plus on Saturday and Sunday I got to run to the office. Yay running. And felt like a God when I completed the task, and headed out to join my family on vacation.