It has become obvious to me that we have a big problem with telling, hearing and accepting the truth yet we find candid and honest people quite refreshing. It’s why Donald Trump is, well, so popular despite his harsh words. (By the way, I originally published this on Aug. 20, 2015.)
Here are 5 ways to live truthfully (based on typical scenarios) that don’t require bad hair or being a billionaire. (I s-w-e-a-r, I started thinking about this pre-Donald). Let me preface this by saying that I am a true Aquarian and with that I carry the aloofness and “unfeeling” trait. I have offended others more than I know. I have apologized or re-explained my comments many, many times throughout my life. In fact, if I still owe you one and for any upcoming unintended rudeness, I genuinely apologize.
1. You Don’t Want To Hurt Someone’s Feelings. Right. Instead, you will just stuff yours into the bazillion-katrillion cells in your body and cause indigestion or low back pain later that day. If you are concerned about hurt feelings, answer first with your own question such as “why are you asking” or “do you want me to answer truthfully or just listen,” or “can you hear my truth without taking it personal?” I love this because it puts the responsibility of emotions back on the other person. Either way, do your best to limit conversations with people who easily get their feelings hurt by honesty (honesty that is not vicious or an attack.) If you don’t, you will find yourself constantly guarding your words and filtering your thoughts to accommodate their feelings, which is not healthy for you. When we withhold our truth to spare feelings, we often suppress important ones within ourselves.
If you are uncomfortable giving feedback for a service or on a product but complain about it later, ask yourself if staying mum is indicative of the way you deal with other uncomfortable situations. Are you always the one saying “it’s okay” or “it’s not big deal” and then raging into a passive aggressive fit later on? Not speaking up is now hurting you.
I’m constantly trying to be more thoughtful with my words. I will remain silent rather than lie to diffuse hurt feelings or misunderstandings. I don’t hang out with a lot of delicate flowers but I respect their sensitivity as much as possible and I’m grateful for those who can accomodate them.
The other side is this. Some truths are definitely damaging and hurtful. Information that is true but does not help the conversation or the point you are making as well as certain consequences (from telling the truth) are not part of this philosophy. That, in my opinion, is an entirely different scenario.
We speak truthfully to honor ourselves, not to hurt or demean others.
2. Social Media Has Distorted The Truth. We need a Tell The Truth or Tell The Other Side Day so we can stop feeling like worthless pieces of caca based on everyone’s perfectly, splendid and exciting, award-winning lives. It’s totally and completely good to post the fun stuff and to celebrate accomplishments but not at the expense of excluding other parts of your life that make you who you are. It’s like living in Jim Carrey’s world in the movie, The Truman Show. Our lives are not one happy dance from sunrise to sunset and making them appear as such is not truthful or genuine. Did I just push a nerve? Hold on. Let me explain.
Is social media a place for dirty laundry? No. No. No. Am I proposing that you whine, complain and share all your struggles and problems? Nope. Of course not. Just be real with other emotions and comments and be okay with expressing who you are and how life affects you from time to time. “Here we are on our last vacation before the kids go back to college. Bittersweet but we know it’s a part of life.” That expresses emotions that many of us understand yet we get to see a cool photo, as an example.
Realness unites us as human beings. It helps us to not feel alone. Not fun when someone sees you in person and comments on how amazing your life is based on Facebook when you know it’s only part of your story.
That is my point here. Not to bash Facebook and not to rain on your happy parades. Promise.
3. It Takes Too Much Work. You appease someone in a conversation even though you don’t agree, leaving them with the impression that you do. Consequently, helping them to feel more secure in their position and opinions and you more disingenuous with yours. Umm, what? Add up the number of times you do this and calculate the damage to your authenticity. Think about the instances when the person with whom you are talking to might do the same for you. Doesn’t help either of you.
We get lazy and don’t want to explain our views. I get it. Never the less, to what extent? How about this, “I understand your point of view and why you feel that way. This is how I feel and I hope you can also try to understand and appreciate without taking offense.” Then, you explain your point of view. You don’t need to engage in a full debate or dissertation. You can exit at anytime. You, hopefully, are not trying to persuade or convince because when you’re not, it’s much easier to simply – without drama – tell your truth.
4. You Are Afraid Of Being Judged. Perhaps, you’ve had too many reactions that are clearly misunderstandings and/or you are uncomfortable with feeling judged in any way. Hate to break it to you but we are all judged, all of the time. We determine good and bad, right from wrong, social class or status (and on and on and on) via our judgments. The way you dress. The way you speak. Your job. Your car. Judged. It’s a part of life.
If you’ve had negative experiences speaking truthfully, try explaining your thoughts differently or more thoroughly; with more facts or less facts. No matter what, you are not required to accept anyone’s hypothesis or judgment. You are allowed to reject it. Understand that it reveals something about the person who said it. If it’s helpful, own up to it and say thank you. This happens to me quite a bit because I have many unorthodox views and beliefs. Certain topics conjure up emotional reactions and life filters that are almost too massive to pierce.
If your opinions are not of the norm they can easily push you into a defensive mode or paint you straight into the whacko category. I have also found myself not saying anything because someone assumes certain characteristics or beliefs about me in reference to (usually) a controversial topic. Although I disagree, I can remain respectful, friendly or even close friends. Turn the table, however, and it’s not always reciprocated. I’ve learned to let that go with grace and love. Do the same for yourself.
Worry less about judgment. Living a lie is repressive. Speaking your truth is empowering.
5. It’s safer to live half-truths, especially about your own life. If you need to vent or gossip after a lot of your conversations or prefer to stick with the surface stuff, you might be avoiding your own truths. Your pain. Your discomfort with your life and your current situation. I know individuals that literally run from the truth. They are certainly, most definitely and extremely uneasy around those pesky folks to the East who are more likely to honor their truth in conversations. Probably why I resonate with them so much.
Not living authentically is not examining your inner voice and deepest thoughts. It might be about living up to your family’s concept of success. It might be from abuse. It might be about constant criticism as a child or not feeling worthy enough to go after what you want. This list could go on for days.
Bottom line is you are hiding from your true self and thus, you cannot have honest conversations with anyone.
Hope you can use a few of these 5 ways to live truthfully – as long as you use them in love and for the right reasons. Telling the truth is about releasing your insecurities and expanding any labels you’ve placed upon yourself. It gives others permission to do the same, building bridges of commonalities and understanding.
Ask a person that has gone through major healing in his or her life and I promise you that he or she will tell you it resulted after facing the truth.
The truth does set you free in so many ways.
How have you been set free and which of the above 5 ways to live truthfully might help you right now? I would love to know. God Bless.