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From the Heart: Truth or Sabotage?

by Alan Cohen


I work with a rental car agency that gets me good deals. When I began to use the agency I phoned in an order to the owner, who is a friend of mine. When he emailed me the confirmation, I discovered he made an error on the pickup time of the car. I called him back and he corrected it. This happened not just once, but three times. Hmmm.

I told the agent that I planned to recommend his service for participants of my residential retreats. He told me, “Great! Just be sure to have them book online—that’s a lot easier for me than processing a phoned reservation.”

Suddenly I realized why the agent had consistently messed up my orders. He didn’t want to take phone orders. His errors were subterfuged ways of saying, “I don’t want to do this.” When he finally told me the truth, I was happy to change the way I ordered. But he had to tell me the truth first.

We all seek to express our truth. We all must express our truth. There are two ways to express your truth: directly or indirectly. If you do not express your truth directly, it will come out in odd, aberrant, and damaging ways. Self-sabotage or sabotage of others occurs when you don’t speak your truth directly. Honest expression of truth ends sabotage.

I had an office assistant whom I asked to pick up a laser printer cartridge on her way home from work one day, and she agreed. The next day when she came to work I asked her for the cartridge. “I couldn’t find the shop,” she told me. We found a map to the shop and she went off that day after work to find it. The following day she again returned empty-handed. “I got there after they closed,” she reported. I let her off work early that day to make it to the shop on time. The next day she told me, “I forgot to bring the company credit card.”

Finally I picked up the cartridge myself without a hitch. The truth my assistant resisted telling me was, “I don’t want to do this.” I wish she would have told me that up front; it would have saved both of us time and trouble. When you don’t tell the truth up front, your truth comes out in weird ways that make more trouble for everyone.

We all have the ability to do anything we choose to do—IF we choose to do it. The story is told about Joe, who came home from work one day quite tired. As he was unwinding in front of his TV during the evening, Joe’s buddy phoned him and asked Joe if he would help him move his refrigerator. “I’d sure like to,” Joe answered, “but I had a tough day at work and I’m beat. Maybe another time.”

Ten minutes later Joe received a phone call from his girlfriend, who had just gotten back into town after being away on a business trip. “I’m back, honey,” she told Joe. “I just got a new Victoria’s Secret lingerie outfit. Would you like to come over and help me try it out?”

Did Joe suddenly have energy? You bet! He wasn’t lying to his buddy when he said he was too tired. He was too tired because he wasn’t motivated. We all find the energy and means to do what we choose to do. We find no energy to do the things we do not want to do. If we are forced to do things we do not want to do, we will find a way not to do them. That’s how powerful we are. The question is, will you express your preference honestly, or will you create veiled situations to get your point across?

You don’t have to get sick to get out of school, have an accident to get out of work, or have an affair to get out of a marriage. You can simply, clearly, directly express that you do not wish to do this. You might ruffle some feathers, but the cost will be far less than illness, accident, or a nasty divorce. Yet there is a hidden value in direct communication. You might create a solution that surpasses simply staying unhappily or leaving dramatically. By expressing your feelings you might be able to change schools, transfer departments at work, or deepen your intimacy, connection, and reward in marriage. Truth has ways of getting to solutions that sabotage does not.

Ceanne Derohan wrote a classic book entitled, Right Use of Will. We are always using our will. But we may not always be using it in alignment with our good. Your will is like an automobile with its engine running and the gearshift in drive. You can steer the car onto the main highway and take the most direct route to where you want to go. Or you can drive it through many detours and byways, over bumps and through walls. Ultimately you will get to your destination, but one path is a lot more direct and fun than another.

The universe rewards authenticity. Things are supposed to go right, and they usually do. When you say yes to what you choose, and no to what you do not choose, you are living in alignment with yourself. Life asks no more—or less—of you than this.

Alan Cohen is the author of many popular inspirational books, including Enough Already: The Power of Radical Contentment. Join Alan beginning September 1 for his acclaimed Life Coach Training to become a professional life coach or incorporate life coaching skills in your current career. For more information about this program, Alan’s other books, free daily inspirational quotes, and his weekly radio show, visit www.alancohen.com  , email  info@alancohen.com  , or phone (800) 568-3079 or (808) 572-0001.


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