A few weeks ago, I got excited because I'd found someone to take care of something in my home I don't want to deal with. I deliberately leave this thing undone for the weekend because they've given me their word they'll be there on Monday. Of course, because this is a blog about reliability, this is a story about a person that doesn't show. So in an angry huff I do the thing, and do it quickly and with resentment, the doing of which drives a deeper fissure in my ability to trust the world. Me doing this thing that wasn't a real yes, especially as I did it the whole time in bottled up anger and disappointment throws not just my entire day offline but my vibration as well.
So when Brene Brown started talking reliability, I was all ears.
As I went into the research, I already knew that I was going to encounter my own self in the mirror in some ways, that having a lack of trust in the world has got to have something to do with me. I had no idea the depths of what I would find. The first thing I discovered was that I was shockingly comfortable blaming other people for their lack of reliability, as if it had no inner correlate in me. It's funny when a part of life finally reaches that phase where we are emotionally stable enough to actually consider it from the lense of vibrational complicity.
I guess I can take that win! Yay! I'm stable enough to admit I'm not that stable!
I remember landing at an intentional community in northern Missouri late at night and walking into this warm cozy nexus of happy people eating and playing games together. It felt like heaven. I decided to stay. A few nights later the dreams started. After a week of nightmares I went to the shaman who started clapping, "yay!" you finally feel safe enough to fall apart. Your life has been trying to talk to you for quite a while."
When I listened to Brene Brown's TED talk on Vulnerability I started crying in this new way, like my heart was trying to hack up a hairball. Elephant journal writer Christine White says it best, "I’ve been wrong about trust for a long time—about building it, with myself and with others. I’ve been really wrong, really often, and not so gracefully. I’ve tried to fix and rescue others. I’ve devoted myself to fixing and rescuing myself, instead of just being there for myself. I’ve judged—my own needs and neediness and thought I was pretty open with others. Not possible—not really. Self-trust is vital too."
When I heard her talk I just knew that I'd been really wrong about trust for a long time, and it's okay (it has to be, I can only be where I am) and it's cool that I
was getting really good at other things, like magic and adventure and creativity and parenting! and polyamory and starting communitities and being a play pastor, and, and ... and trust is my next frontier. Because it sings for me. Because I cry for real every time I think of it. And when that happens, I know I'm being called to take the next true step in my hero's journey.
That next step tonight is to encounter my own capacity for reliability anew so that I may allow the world to meet me, reliably, in that grounded space. I'm tired of the lonely Nat does it all party! Who loves that?
When I think back to being stood up the other day, my first thought was "what a dingbat!" And I may or may have not gone into some real Braveheart monologuing about how our word is our bond and damn it, a man is only as strong as his word and so on. This got me thinking about my own relationship to my word, to giving my word and to my ability to honor my commitments. I inherited from my mother an idea that one should be sparing with promises because they are never to be broken. Ever. EVER EVEREVEREVER. And then I discovered the teachings of Abraham Hicks that talks about how important it is to not do something that you are not lined up with because it'll blow your vibration to smithereens. Also, all the reservations and bad feelings you have about it, you'll surely encounter in manifested form when you do the thing, which will just do more worser things to that vibrational output.
So, I stopped being so stringent with my promises. And even went on a long traveling trip called "Travel by Yes" where we attempted to explore our relationship with our true yesses. We were trying to uncover what was worth showing up for, worth giving our energy to. While it often seemed like "travel by confusion" it slowly worked its magic as we began to see how we were hanging onto things we didn't truly believe in or care about or feel genuinely inspired to. And those were the very places we were being unreliable, and breaking promises. We discovered that it's shockingly easy to break a promise to a partial or fake yes. And it feels freaking horrible to break one to a real yes.
Then we tried the kid in a candy store style of yessing, just engaging preference after preference, just doing what we wanted to do all the time. We were trying to have some kind of integrity around the experiment and knew that we could only learn from it if we fully engaged it, even though that year long experiment challenged each of it's 11 members to the ends of our known reaches and beyond.
Doing whatever we wanted all the time, without any kind of deeper check in led to experiences that were not that satisfying. And often included drinking. It brought with it it's own anxiety. The anxiety came because we weren't in conversation with our deeper selves, so, while were more likely to say yes to something or someone and to show up for that commitment, it didn't really mean much and didn't have much impact or real joy because our deeper source selves weren't really calling us, our ego preferences were, more sugar! more netflix! more running away!
So I realized that a real yes is a connected yes, is a deeply listening yes. I also realized that you can't really hear anything when you're freaking out or your needs aren't met. So there is some work involved in staying in range of having the capacity to be genuinely reliable. You've got to prioritize becoming reliable to your connection with your Source-merged self. You need to get reliably listening and talking there, and to learn how to reliably act from, and make decisions from, that place before you're going to feel reliable in the outer world. I think it's appropriate to break a date that you made that you never really wanted to do, but it still sucks. And it can make you feel confused about yourself and what you want. And it'll dent other's trust in you too over time, so it's just easier to clear up that inner confusion that's keeping you from hearing ahead of time whether something is worth your time and engagement or not.
Sometimes it's too much work for me, or not fun enough for me to get ALL THE WAY CLEAR about something, so I am less careful with my yesses, and engage life experiences that bring me useful drama and challenges that spurs me on to the very clarity that I need. I realize where my real boundaries are and what I am really up for. In these situations, I like to be open and honest that I'm experimenting and am unclear and am playing my way into clarity and so my yesses and no's will likely fluctuate and I work to stay willing to be honest about those changes in real time, or as Daniel Laport says, "say what's true and say it fast."
In my tribe we'll keep trust in tact by using percentages. In a conversation today with a friend I asked her if she's doing the big hike tomorrow after Play Church and after a moment of deep check in she said she was at %80. That let me know that she's got a strong desire and some reservations or competing commitments that may stop her from going. That's good to know. I'll not plan for her to be there for sure. In this situation, that kind of honesty can be really important. We'll be collaborating in bringing food and water and books of poetry and so knowing what people are really up for helps the fun be stronger.
As I write this, I feel an exciting retuning of my focus on my own reliable connection with my deeper self. It feels like walking toward heaven.
I'll end this with a draft of my own definition, "Reliability is a condition that stems from a deep and steadfast listening to one's deeper self and a willingness to prioritize what you hear and to take inspired action out of that place, actions you don't renig on."
Check out the last post in this series or the next one