“Truth is like the sun. You can shut it out for a time, but it ain’t goin’ away.”
I came across a mention on a calendar earlier that tomorrow is Tell the Truth day. A bit of further research has shown that this appears to be the American national Tell the truth day with other countries having similar ideas on different days.
While I’m not in America myself, I did think that it would be an appropriate time to talk about telling yourself the truth.
The origin of the word true is Old English meaning “faithful, trustworthy” with a modern dictionary defining truth as the qualities of being true.
Often people are not being truthful with themselves for one of two reasons:
(i) It’s never occurred to them that they are not being honest, they’re so used to a particular version that they never think to question it. Perhaps they have recognised the progress that they have made in an area and their self-perception is further behind reality.
(ii) A form of self-protection from a potential uncomfortable feeling, often fear. Avoiding having to deal with a situation. As the author Tad Williams so succinctly puts it: “We tell lies when we are afraid … afraid of what we don’t know, afraid of what others will think, afraid of what will be found out about us. But every time we tell a lie, the thing that we fear grows stronger.”
When I sat down to write this I pondered the impact that being truthful, or not, with yourself can have. I came up with several points that I could take each one in turn and have more than enough to create a piece. However, to keep this a reasonable length here is a summary of the main impact telling the truth, or not, with yourself can have.
How confidant you are feeling generally, can be affected by how truthful you are being with yourself. In effect not being honest with yourself is pretending to be someone else. So is it any surprise that in that instance many people report that they are scared that someone will find out that you are a fake. One of the common comments when people don’t feel confident is that they don’t feel worthy. Consider the message you are giving by being honest with yourself – that you are trust-worthy of knowing the truth. Being honest with yourself is an important part of being comfortable in your own skin.
At first glance “thinking positive” can appear to be a fantastic idea and taking time to see opportunities, the things that you are grateful for and putting things into perspective with the rest of your life are all things that can make a positive impact upon how you live your life.
So why am I including this in a piece about honesty? The thing is that the way a lot of people attempt to do this is by having their very own internal thought police. As soon as these internal thought police notice a thought that isn’t positive they’ll chime in with another thought that isn’t positive about you not having a positive thought in the first place – it can become a loop of negative thoughts.
Where honesty comes into effect is that if “being positive” comes up against the truth then it can feel draining as you get a resistance to what is actually going on. I find that being honest with myself about how I am feeling, rather than trying to “fight against it” with positive thinking normally means that I feel better within myself anyway.
Often people are concerned if they are honest with themselves about how they are feeling and not think positive that they will be stuck in a negative experience. I will expand more next week about how you can combine honesty and positive thinking as this is a huge topic. For now, know that when you are honest with yourself and acknowledge how you are feeling does not mean that everything stops. Bear in mind that “this too will pass.” (Phrase taken from a Hebrew fable)
Not being honest with yourself about what you actually want can affect how you feel about the projects you are working on. For instance, a lack of motivation and inspiration can mean that you are working for something you think you should have or want rather than what you actually want. I find that one way to easily find motivation is to reconnect with what you honestly want.
Sometimes we are not honest with ourselves because we have become caught up in a story. It never occurs to question if what we are telling ourselves is the truth now. For instance, we may have an explanation (“story”) about an obstacle that is in the way of what we are doing – we can get so used to that being the explanation we don’t become aware if circumstances alter, or check that they were even true in the first place. Hiding from the truth prevents you from being able to take any or the right action.
For instance, Bob thought that the obstacle to him building a successful business was that his skills were not good enough – so he went and got more training, practiced and gained more experience. He kept taking more and more action to increase his skills and neglected that to build a successful business he not only needed to have good skills but at some stage would need to take action to let customers know to come and use these skills! He was so caught up in the “story” that his skills were not good enough he never thought to check where he honestly was.
This week I invite you to be honest with yourself and notice the difference that it makes. This can take a bit of practice, and I advise being kind to yourself in the process. Watch out for getting caught up in familiar stories – double check with asking yourself “is it true?” And “can you absolutely know that it is true?” Allow yourself to be open to the possibility that the truth is not what you expect
You don’t have to share what you are being honest about unless you want to, just question for yourself how truthful you are being.
Have a week full of truth, as Shakespeare said “This above all; to thine own self be true”