Is truth in the eye of the beholder or is the beholder half-baking the truth? Can there really be many perspectives of the same truth; yours, mine and the objective truth or reality?
Today, we embrace being a victim more than we embrace truth. We had no choice but to bomb Iraq. I wouldn’t be cheating if my partner was giving me what I want. I didn’t have an affair, my penis never touched.his… Of course it takes every stain out. I never told anyone about that. He’d cheated on all his previous partners, but, I knew he would never do that to me. I’m really not staying for the money. You are more important than my job. She’s really just a friend. No, an adjustable rate is better. I was at the gym.
Not only do we have a problem telling the truth but we also have a real issue with how to respond to the truth. Maybe that is because we don’t get truth very often. How can we make accurate judgments and respond in effective and appropriate ways when we don’t know if what we are being told is even factual? The truth is easily manipulated by advertisers, pollsters, those in power, historians, dictators, politicians, corporate marketers, and yep, family and partners. We tell reconstructed, finessed and finely edited truth, not the whole truth and nothing but the truth. Sometimes, we simply withhold the truth altogether, which is the biggest lie. We do this with yet another lie, this one to ourselves, “I don’t want to hurt her,” or “He can’t deal with the truth.” This is the lie we tell ourselves when we don’t want to deal with the fallout from telling the truth. So, now we have thrown up our hands and thrown truth to the wind. Who cares?
We ought to care. Truth telling is not about the other person, it is about you. It’s about a sense of power and belief in your self. When you are unwilling to tell the truth you are saying that you don’t matter and neither do your feelings and needs. If life, as Charles Swindle says, “…is 10% what happens to us and 90% how we respond to it,” then our character and ability to tell the truth is crucial. In fact, it’s more than that, it’s everything. Without truth you can’t have love, without truth you can’t have integrity, without truth you cannot have wisdom. Without truth relationships can’t last and without it you and I can’t evolve our own souls or our character and values. This liberation from the truth is simply a new form of bondage to our ego. Instead of growing up emotionally and spiritually, we are becoming existential narcissists, with an excuse for every character flaw we choose not to address. We are addicted to safety and the status quo. As long as things remain the same, we are happy. But, there is something deeper. It’s a longing to be fully who we can be and there is a greater joy and freedom in becoming that person.
So where do we begin? Initially, become aware of when you lie just out of habit, perhaps about your age, what you ate for lunch or why you are late. Stop and ask yourself why you are lying, and what is the fear under the lie? Are covering up yet another flaw, are you afraid of being vulnerable or afraid of being judged? What would the outcome be if you just told the truth? Chances are, people know when you are lying anyway, and the end result of telling the truth would be building greater trust in your relationships. If you prefer to keep some things private, and you do have that right, simply tell people, “That’s private information,” rather than tell a lie.
Then, look at the lies you tell because you are doing something that you are ashamed about, something that is illegal, self-abusive, dishonest or self-sabotaging. Once you are willing to face whatever that behavior is, you can also figure out what you need in the way of support to fix it. The shame and grief you are causing yourself is worse that any pain the truth would inflict. If you are having an affair, maybe it’s time to look at the issues in your current relationship or be honest enough to move on so you and your partner can both find happiness. If you are abusing substance, or are into other addictive behavior, maybe it is time to get help. I know you can’t be feeling good about any of the things you are doing. In case you haven’t noticed, the truth is always healing. It’s not always comfortable but it is always healing. The real truth always eventually comes out and the lies you pile on top of lies result in the people you love feeling incredibly more betrayed than they might have with the truth. So let’s begin with a simple truth. You always know when you are not telling it.
© Dr. Dina Bachelor Evan 2013