“Charms for the Easy Life” is a made-for-television movie about three women (played by Gena Rowlands, Mimi Rogers and Susan May Pratt) who defy gender roles during World War II. Gena Rowlands plays the role of a successful and astute holistic doctor without a medical license. If a patient died who was known for lying or deceitfulness, she would ask her granddaughter to look in the mouth of the deceased to see if this person had “purged” (“to rid of impurities, cleanse, purify, to rid, clear or free”). She explained that if saliva foamed around their mouth, they had purged everything out before passing. In other words, they had cleansed and purified themselves of false statements, lies and self-deceptions.
At the end of the movie, the granddaughter (Susan May Pratt) finds that her grandmother has passed on during the night. Curious about the old woman’s practices, the granddaughter immediately checks her grandmother’s mouth to see if she has purged. She finds no trace of saliva, indicating that the elderly woman had lived true to her word—she had no need for the last-minute purging like people who had lived deceitful lives. What truths flow out of your heart? Do they include any lingering regrets or elements of deceit?
Deceit rears its ugly head at work when you pretend you agree with your boss. Perhaps you feel that your opinions are devalued or sense that your principles lead you in a different direction than his/hers. Even this minimal level of deceit represents a choice not to act courageously by speaking your convictions and damages your own honesty. Instead of saying, “I really don’t want to do this,” or “I don’t agree with this procedure,” you will probably start thinking about how you do not want to burn bridges. But any degree of self-deceit will require purging at some point, and purging commonly takes place after you leave your job and realize that you “should” have left sooner than later. It takes a lot of effort to display the authentic Self at work.
Later, in one of my monthly courage e-zines I used the segment “Foaming at the Mouth.” I received an e-mail a few weeks later from Wendy who wrote, “I wanted to write to you telling you how much I appreciated receiving your newsletter last month—‘Foaming at the Mouth’. It made such an impact on me. I reread it numerous times and, in fact, it finally gave me the courage to speak my mind. I had been having a sore throat and almost laryngitis (imagine that) for quite a while and when I finally told my husband that I was tired of his using me and draining me financially and emotionally, and I am tired of living a lie. My throat ‘miraculously’ cleared up. Now my voice is strong both physically as well as emotionally. After allowing him to take advantage of me and my daughter for the last eight years, I am finally leaving. Not that it is something to be cheered on or celebrated, I am thankful that I am finally purging myself of ‘false statements, lies and self-deceptions’.”
I feel blessed that people write and tell me how my work experientially moved them to claim their courage. Wendy’s blinders to her courage were removed because she “allowed” courage to come into her life and have a revelation. A few months later I received another email from Wendy sharing how she is also pursuing a new career path that fits her skills and heart’s desire.
Sandra Ford Walston is known as The Courage Expert and innovator of StuckThinking™. She is an organizational effectiveness consultant, speaker, trainer and courage coach. She is the internationally published author of bestseller COURAGE The Heart and Spirit of Every Woman (2001), the follow-up book STUCK 12 Steps Up the Leadership Ladder (2010) and the recently released FACE IT! 12 Obstacles that Hold You Back on the Job (2011). She is certified in the Enneagram and MBTI®.
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© Sandra Walston
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