Can I fully be me and fully attune to you?

What is the relationship between sensitivity to others and authenticity to self? When I first came to that question, I used to frame it in an either/or way – like if I thought it enough, pros and cons, eventually one would emerge or I would find a set protocol to govern it. The eventual resolution came in understanding polarities (opposing poles/energies) and that this is a polarity to be managed, not a problem to be solved. You can also think of it like the polarity of truth and harmony. Harmony without truth is sickly and false; truth without harmony is harsh and unattuned. Think about MLK and what he said about love and power.

In the world of radical self-honesty which is an important part of the personal evolution journey, the pendulum swings to, in gross generalization: I will own and speak my truth and you can handle the impact of it. Better than that is: and I will also be available for the impact on you. Better than that is: and with love and not going to sleep on myself I will calibrate my response to the updates you give me. In the world of being conventional, we often go quiet on our true selves or distrust our experience to give the facade, fit the system, keep the social mores. Better than that is: I will speak my truth as long as it harms no-one.

I want to suggest that true discernment in managing the polarity of truth and harmony is more skillful than all of these. It includes the full spectrum of say everything, say something, say more (as you attune to the unfolding) and say nothing depending on what is in front of you, how you are attuning to the person and situation, and what your self-system guidance is giving you. There may be no good use of attention and energy in giving your full truth to someone who has no capacity to hold it. And if you know your tendency is to under-deliver on the truth you experience for sensitivity to not hurting other people (or not fully revealing yourself), you may want to work that edge.

As always, life is fluid, dynamic, beyond protocol.

My edge is towards truth. Often reflexively if someone asks a direct question, I may minimize my truth or misdirect in my answer so as not to be pinned down to something or fully own something which I may perceive they *may* have an issue with. It’s a clever little defense and deflection (take note Enneagram 2s, 7s and 9s; Fs in Myers Briggs and Artisans [Higher Alignment typing]) – and I usually only catch it after it’s happened and sometimes I lack the courage to name it retrospectively.

Where’s your edge?

What do you need to pay more attention to in the way you manage truth and harmony in your life?

About Jack Butler

Jack Butler is a social entrepreneur, coach, workshop leader and speaker. His latest venture provides full spectrum human development through coaching, programmes and other development resources for leaders and entrepreneurs. He founded Future Foundations (, a leading youth personal development training organization. He is a professional member of the International Enneagram Association and a former fellow of the Royal Society of Arts. Jack was the IAB 2007 Young Entrepreneur of the Year runner-up and took a double first class degree in Social and Political Sciences from the University of Cambridge. Jack spends his time between London and Brighton in the UK and Boulder, CO and the Bay Area in the US. In his spare time, he enjoys physical challenges (3 Peaks Challenge 2010, Tresco Marathon 2006) and supporting The Simultaneous Policy Organisation ( He is a Partner in Passion and Purpose of the Grubb Guild, a voracious reader of personal, cultural and spiritual development, and likes to inquire, journal, travel and write.

2 Responses to Can I fully be me and fully attune to you?

  1. Sharona October 16, 2014 at 7:46 pm #

    Jack, this is really beautifully perceived and written. Acknowledging that many are not ready nor able to hold both ends of the polarity, in the context that I am often working the “dominant leader” is developed enough to speak his/her truth, and is inured to the impact, leaving undermined, if not destroyed, relationships in their wake. The distinctions you have languaged here are well done! Thank you!

  2. Michael Dolan October 16, 2014 at 5:19 pm #


    I appreciate your articulation of the polarities of sensitivity to others and authenticity to self. I can’t help but consider the “Law of Three” here.

    The Law of Three, which I’ve learned through the Enneagram, points to the dynamic between two polarities and the third force that essentially neutralizes the polarity, like the proton, electron, and neutron. The third force essentially transcends the polarity and while not nullifying it, brings the higher perspective.

    So in your examples of those polarities, I wonder what the third, transcending forces are? Love? Truth?

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