Truth telling is about more than honesty; it yields a deeper understanding of self and elevates self-esteem
It’s hard to make any real progress on the journey of self-discovery, self-realization, self-empowerment and healing without telling the truth. We have to tell the truth to understand what’s going on with us. We have to tell the truth to get the energy moving. We have to tell the truth for change to happen in our lives.
Q: The truth about what?
A: The truth about everything.
We have to tell the truth about Life and how we experience it. We have to tell the truth about how we feel. We have to tell the truth about ourselves, about the people we know, about our families, about the situations we’ve been in, about what has happened to us – and about what we have experienced and what we’ve been through. It is our only path to being our true selves, for if we don’t tell the truth, who are we? When we tell the truth, we find out who we really are. Interestingly enough, when this happens – when we tell the truth and are fully ourselves — we also set ourselves free.
Until we tell the truth, we often remain stuck in our old patterns, programs and belief systems. Our old conditioned responses and habitual reactions just continue. In many cases, these old habits and patterns actually grow stronger because our old patterns of thinking and behaving just gain more and more momentum. So, we often find ourselves stuck in a rut. But the moment we begin telling the truth, the magic of change can begin.
Truth telling is obviously a well-known and effective therapeutic tool that has been used by psychologists, psychiatrists, psychoanalysts, therapists, coaches, counselors, self-help groups, 12-Step Programs and more, for many, many years. But even though this is the case – and even though many people today know about the benefits of truth telling – it can still be very beneficial for us to look at what exactly truth telling is all about…and how to do it.
What is truth telling?
Firstly, truth telling is telling what you have experienced. In other words, what happened and how you experienced it and how you felt about it and feel about it today. It’s all about you. It’s not about what other people think happened. It’s not about what your mother or father thought or think happened. It’s not about what your partner thinks happened or what your children think happened. It’s just about you. Your experience. That’s it.
It’s also not about what you ‘should’ think and feel; it’s about what you actually think and feel. It’s about getting in touch with your self and with your life experience. In touch with what you know to be true for you, without censoring it or modifying it or editing it. But obviously, this is not an easy thing to do for any of us for several reasons.
Why truth telling is a challenge
1. We are afraid of the consequences of what will happen if we do actually tell the truth.
That is why I always say to clients when we’re doing truth telling in my office, “Let’s just forget about the consequences for now. Let’s make the decision that you are going to tell the truth and that you don’t have to act on what you are discovering and saying (not now and not ever) if you don’t want to. Just tell me the truth. Just say it for you. You don’t have to tell another soul. Just start by telling me (your coach/therapist). Your truth is safe with me, I am never going to tell another soul (unless of course you tell me you murdered someone).”
I also always say to people that once they’ve told the truth, if they do want to do something about it and say something to other people, then we come to the matter of what I call ‘constructive communications’. In other words, how to communicate respectfully and skillfully with the people you may have issues with — but that is a whole other project. So for now, I encourage people to just leave worrying about what to do with this information aside and focus on doing truth telling.
2. We’ve been programmed from an early age to believe there is a right and wrong way to think and feel.
Most of us have also been programmed to please others. So it can be quite challenging, and even anxiety provoking, to get in touch with what you really and truly think and feel and then to actually say it out loud to another person. Wow. Now that often takes great courage. But it’s a good thing to do. It really is because — as anyone who has tried it will tell you – you just feel better when you tell the truth about how you feel. You just feel lighter, more enlightened, and relieved. And you feel more clarity about who you are and what you’ve experienced. That’s just the way it is. And when you feel better, relieved, lighter, you just know for yourself that truth telling actually works.
>Read more from Barbara Berger on this site on her author page.
You may also enjoy reading Freedom From Our Un-Serving and Negative Thoughts by Annette Quarrier