What happens when we tell the truth? I’ll tell you a secret about truth telling in just a minute… But if I’m honest (which is the goal here), the first thought about what would happen if we tell the truth is: People will get mad and hurt, and I will get ostracized. Why on earth is that my first reaction? My very first instinct when given the option of telling the truth or keeping my thoughts to myself, is to just keep it to myself because it’s better than being alone and rejected for saying what I actually think out loud. Seriously, there’s something wrong with that.
I know everyone on the planet doesn’t share this knee-jerk reaction, but I’m betting that a good many of us do. I speak to those of us who have stumbled into other people’s ideas about how life should be, how we should think, how we should behave, what we should believe, and have found ourselves neck deep in the discomfort of disagreement, and the resulting withdraw of affection. With the distance come the messages (mostly unspoken, of course) of, “you need to agree with me, think what I think, do what I do, or else.” Or else what? Rejection? Separation? Disapproval? Disappointment? Solitude?
How do we combat that? How do we dare move through life freely, allowing ourselves to love, be loved and believe we belong, when our path is filled with invisible, deadly land mines? Well, I think it requires us to be brave, and we have to realize that the little kid on the matrix was right – “…there is no spoon.”
Just like Neo we have to learn that those lies we believe don’t actually have the power we think they do. The lie we have believed is that if we tell the truth we will be rejected. And like the spoons all bent and twisted on the floor, they aren’t real. The fear is real, the hiding is real, but the reality is that rejection is not the result of truth. We have to bend and change our thinking. The reality is:
Freedom is the result of truth.
Connection is the result of truth.
The thing is, even if someone does respond in anger to what you say, that doesn’t mean you did something wrong, and it doesn’t mean you shouldn’t have said it. This is a hard one. It’s hard to watch someone freak out over something you say to them and then make the choice to just… wait for it… let them. We can’t control other people’s reactions to us any more than they can control what we really think. (did you hear that?) We often end up spending more energy avoiding the initial disagreement that might come, than it would have taken to just have the uncomfortable conversation in the first place.
Here’s the secret though. For connection to be the result of truth, the truth we need to begin with is what is true in our own heart. First, I have to take a minute and ask myself, what am I feeling? What do I really want to say? What do I really think about this? And if there is anger there, why am I angry? If there is hurt, where is it coming from? This is not necessarily an easy task. We spend a LOT of time and energy shutting those things down, so to get in touch with what’s actually going on inside might take more than a minute. You might need to talk it out with a counselor to sort out your feelings.
(Side note: There is a danger of using our pain to attack one another once we get in touch with the feelings we’ve been stuffing. This isn’t what I mean by tell the truth, this is destructive, and unless the person you’re unleashing on is a trained professional, it’ll probably not end well. If you do attack someone, go cool off, apologize and try again. I bet they’ll forgive you. After-all, we’re all learning here.)
After we have taken a minute (or more) to hear what our own heart is telling us, then comes the hardest part… we say that out loud to the person that needs to hear it. Do you feel disconnected, dismissed, misunderstood or resentment toward or from someone you love? Then that is the person that needs to hear how you feel. There is always risk in being vulnerable and connection requires vulnerability. (Sorry, no way around it.) There is always a chance that the person you tell your truth to won’t deal gently with your heart, that they will take it as an accusation, or make it about their pain instead of yours, play the martyr, get defensive and shut down, or (worst of all), just won’t care. But regardless of the reaction of the other person, this is where freedom comes in.
When you tell the truth and say it out loud, you are instantly free from hiding, you are set free from the suffocation of actual isolation that hiding what you think and feel puts you in. For some, (like me) this freedom is an uncomfortable feeling, and if we aren’t careful we can very easily run straight back into our safe, dark, little hiding place to escape it. We yearn for freedom, but often when we achieve it, we find the feeling so foreign we can’t process it, and we reject it. (Also like the matrix 🙂 Just go watch the movie.) Wether we particularly like the feeling of freedom or not, that is what the truth brings. You’ll get used to it, you were made to be free.
Ok…So, I listen to my heart, I say what I really think and feel out loud to my person, then what? Then connection. Although this, too, can be hard to receive when it comes, because maybe it doesn’t look like we thought it would, and because well, vulnerability is scary and pretty much always sucks. But we can’t get what we’re really after without it. (Haven’t we all tried the work around?)
There are a few ways this can go down.
- Maybe they become defensive and scream and flail. Maybe they say you are being mean and abusive by telling them what you think and feel, they cry and feel sorry for themselves, they turn it back on you and attack you. They put up walls and then (the thing you most feared) maybe they run away and never come back. If that’s the case, you are still headed for connection because that space is no longer being held in your life by someone who was refusing to choose true connection with you, freeing up that place and energy you were giving them to give to another. The result is real connection down the road. (But I think this is scenario is rare and only happens with people who weren’t open to you to begin with, moving on)
- Maybe they become defensive, flail, yada, yada, maybe even stomp off and slam the door, but then when they calm down they’ll be ready to have a conversation with you about the things you told them. Maybe they hear you for the first time in your whole history together, and it might take them a minute to get over the shock of you speaking up, but it starts what you’ve been waiting for but never had… it is the beginning of real, intimate connection. You are able to take steps together toward what you’ve never had – open, honest communication, and begin to see one another for who you actually are instead of your hiding, half-self. The result, again, is connection.
- OR, Maybe they look you in the eye, throw their arms around you and weep tears of joy that you have opened your heart to them… at last. (Maybe this is only my reaction, but hey, it could happen!)
I have lived so much of my life hidden in fear that if I let people see who I really am I would be rejected, utterly abandoned. The problem with hiding myself away from people because of that fear is that they never really know me anyway, and can never truly connect with me, and the self fulfilled prophesy becomes true and I end up alone. I don’t know about you, but alone sucks. We were created to be connected, knit together in our hearts and anything less just isn’t good enough.
I have so much further to go with this, I’m 42 and I just got brave enough to begin to stop hiding, to be brave enough to tell the truth and say it out loud – it’s such a simple, duh, kind of thing, but the rub with simple things is how easily we overlook them. We get very good at blowing off hurts and stuffing pain that shuts us down, never realizing the freedom and connection we want is ours for the taking. It might be simple, but it’s the scariest simple thing I’ve ever done. But it’s worth it, friends. Totally worth it, no matter what.
So until next time, keep fighting for one another’s hearts. xxoo