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What’s Wrong with Compliance?

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But let your ‘Yes’ be ‘Yes,’ and your ‘No,’ ‘No.’
For whatever is more than these is from the evil one.
Matthew 5:37

Walking into the Silverspot Cinema for the Saturday matinee of Tully, Jim and I didn’t know what to expect. Nancy, my therapist (yes I need help too!), told me it would be a good one for us to see, and I didn’t question it. I just bought the tickets and showed up.

The theater nearly to ourselves, with just one other couple in the back row, the tears came before the show even started. I mean the trailers! Sheesh. The one about Mr. Rogers, yeah, that one got me. I’ll admit it.

The balance of the movie was about the real-life struggles of a post-partum mother of three, Marlo, played by Charlize Theron, and her emotional exhaustion and lack of connection with her husband and her unexpected friendship and support from her night nanny, Tully, whom her wealthy brother funded as a new baby gift.

I won’t spoil the ending, it’s a shocker, but it left me in tears even an hour after we left the theater.  I could hardly discuss it without going back to those raw feelings many of us experience and ignore.

What also converged that same day from an early morning meeting I attended is the concept of Surrender vs. Compliance.  This quote from the linked article especially stuck out to me:

Compliance creates other problems for the individual. Since it says “yes” on the surface and “no” inside, it contributes to the sense of guilt. The person who says yes and feels the opposite has an inward realization that he is a two-faced liar; this stirs up his conscience and evokes a feeling of guilt. Compliance also adds mightily to the problems of inferiority. The guilt reaction increases the sense of inferiority but the compliance response engrafts it even more. The unconscious situation can be outlined thus: Compliance is a form of agreeing, of never standing up for one-self. When that response is automatic, routine and unvarying, the individual gets a feeling that he cannot stand up for himself; this inevitably augments his inferiority problems.

Why does this matter? I know I’m getting a bit in the weeds here. Stick with me I promise this is going somewhere.

When we as human beings say “Yes” to all the tasks and responsibilities of life and work and family and drain ourselves there are significant negative consequences. We often act out. Our minds are telling us to keep going, shut up, just be grateful, but our bodies are saying, no way, you’re done, I can’t take this anymore, I’m outta here.

You see the conflict? Saying ‘Yes” on the surface and saying “No” on the inside is not just a problem it is actually a lie. Which is what then causes the guilt. We feel like we ‘should be’ but inside we aren’t.

I think this is ultimately why Jesus said, “Let your Yes be Yes and your No be No.” How wise was He! He was telling us to be emotionally honest with ourselves. Don’t lie to yourself just to please other people. Don’t lie to yourself to pretend you have it all together. Don’t lie to yourself to avoid arguments.

This is probably the hardest skill to develop first with yourself and then to extend it out to your relationships with others.

Marlo was the typical mom. Trying to keep it all together. Coming apart at the seams but not allowing her husband to know how desperately tired and disillusioned she was. He was left in the dark until something eye-opening happened and he was jolted into the reality of her struggle. And that was not fair to him either.

Because she pretended to be fine, he thought she was fine. Now, of course, I’m not blaming her entirely. I believe it’s important to dedicate time in your relationships to talking in depth and connecting and caring and he did not do a good job of that. He was checked out in his own way. They were both just complying with life. Doing what they thought they needed to do without really checking in with their inner truth.

Lately, I am on a journey to try to understand my emotional truth and speak up about it more regularly. It’s been a change for sure. It’s not always comfortable and yet it is better for everyone. I am trying to do as Jesus instructed, let my yes be yes and my no be no. When it doesn’t feel right to me, I say NO or I ask for help, or I open up a conversation. When I am a yes, then I make sure my actions and feelings are a yes too.

I guess what I’m saying is it all comes down to emotional honesty and alignment. If you’re suffering from bouts of anger or lingering resentment or you feel disconnected from your relationships it’s time to get honest with yourself. Where have you been saying yes and pretending everything is okay when it really isn’t? How can you stop lying to yourself and let others in to see and hear what’s really going on?

You could always start with a coach or therapist, to unload in a safe place. You could start with a friend or your spouse. You could write with an old-fashioned pen and paper to get your feelings out and see what they really are. You could begin by praying your truth and stop saying what you think God wants to hear.

This is not for the faint of heart. This is for you if you want to have deeper, richer and more meaningful relationships with God, yourself and others. God wants you and your full truth. He wants you to be honest with Him. He knows you already. He’s just waiting to see if you’re willing to know yourself.

Well, we’ve made it out of the weeds and we’re back at base camp. Hope you enjoyed the tour today. I hope you learned something. Enjoy your day and comment below and tell me something honest. I’d love to hear it!