I’m no Bible thumper, but I’ve read the book often enough to know there’s some pretty good stuff in there. And this verse got me thinking … “The Truth Will Set You Free”.
Last week I had a deep heart to heart with someone I care about deeply. It was a bit of a deal breaker because it’s a new relationship, and it was one of those pivotal moments when it could go one of two ways. I’m sure you know what I mean.
In the moment… I knew I had a choice. I could hide what was really going on for me, and continue an illusion. Or I could face the gut wrenching fear of my own truth and face possible rejection and the ending of what was the beginning of a beautiful relationship.
I chose to face my fear. As I shared my deep insecurity about why people do what they do (all stemming from the past love relationships I’ve had) I knew it was the right thing to do.
I was breaking new ground.
Tears welled up in my eyes. My throat was constricted and my chest felt heavy and closed. As I looked at this person, I saw only confusion and bewilderment. He didn’t get it, yet. Neither did I, yet. I was in the midst of discovering my own truth and saying it out loud.
How often do we not tell the people closest to us what’s really going on?
Instead, we “keep our cards close to our chest, don’t say how we really feel, and pretend it’s not what it is”.
But here’s the thing,
“our ability to trust depends not on the reaction of another to our truth, but rather, on our ability to handle our own truth and hold to it”.
People pleasing and approval seeking behavior keeps us shackled to a life of walking a tightrope; a tightrope where we are continually fearful to step off into our own truth. We fear there’s nothing to catch us, and blissfully, or painfully ignorant, we actually fear spiraling into an abyss of denial, disconnection and ultimately abandonment of the self or another or both.
Yes, being truthful is scary.
But instead, consider this! Who would we be, if we speak our truth, and we bring all of who we really are to the conversation with ourselves and those who matter to us?
I took the plunge.
I dug deep into my arsenal of communication skills. I remembered to use “I statements”. I focused on what was true for me. I didn’t make him wrong. I explained why I had done what I’d done, and why. My fear of repeating my past in love was front and center, and I loved myself now enough to risk losing what I’d just found. I loved myself to risk owning my own truth.
I wanted to be free to be me.
Can you do this?
Do you speak what is most true for you even if someone else might not like it? Do you take a chance that, to meet your own needs, you risk losing love, approval, or belonging in new or existing relationships or situations?
This is what it means to be free.
In life, we get more than one chance. You see, we repeat those same chances over and over in our lifetime until we learn what we came here to learn. Don’t think it won’t happen to you. I can guarantee it. Even if one situation ends, another one just the same will show up sooner or later. Watch your patterns and learn from them.
My journey is about vulnerability right now. I’m exploring how to open myself up to potential rejection by knowing and expressing my own truth. It’s a big step for me.
Part of our growing and learning means we become aware of who we really are. Many people never discover this. They lie to protect themselves. More people hide who they really are, or exaggerate about things just to look and feel better in front of others, and don’t consider this not telling the truth. Do you do this?
It might look like sending a text to tell someone you’ll be late. You write “I’m only 5 minutes away” when in reality you just left and won’t be there for 25 minutes. You don’t want the other person to think badly of you.
It might mean not standing up to someone who is treating you disrespectfully at work. We are afraid of conflict and we hide our truth by laughing at their sarcastic humor. We pretend we don’t feel hurt just as the passive aggressive insult hurls itself into our very core. Our truth is, it does hurt, but we keep quiet rather than make the other person feel uncomfortable, or risk taking a stand for ourselves.
Maybe it’s when you don’t speak up to your family as they make demands on you one more time, and you find yourself feeling resentful because instead of meeting your own needs first, you give in. Your truth is too scary to voice. You are afraid to own your truth and be heard. You believe you don’t matter.
As I shared my truth last night about what was bothering me, my heart split open for myself as I realized that my truth is mine and I need to respect it. I want to take the best care of me the best way I can. I risked being truthful.
There are often layers to our truth. The beginning of a disclosure can frequently lead to other painful truths, and emotion can well up like a tsunami within us. Holding it back is like drowning in our own unsaid truth. We die slowly inside.
We often don’t learn communication tools which enable us to share clearly what matters to us. We need to begin to know and recognize our own way of communicating and find the best tools to help us share our own truth. Here are a few ideas:
- Be aware of projecting your pain on to another person by making them wrong. Any sentence that begins with “You …” is not owning your own experience.
- Ask the other person to simply listen before responding. Ask to be “heard out fully”. Tell them you will say “I’m done” when you have finished.
- Give yourself time to compose the words. Don’t rush. Write them down ahead of time if necessary.
- Be reflective in the process. Stop and let the words sink in.
- Stay on topic.
- Make sure you are clear and saying what really is true for you and without blame (it’s not about them).
- Breathe deeply and focus on what you are feeling. Describe these words to the person in front of you so they know the physical impact this is having on you.
- Ask for feedback in a way that is helpful to the other person (if you want feedback). Be direct if you need clarification. Make a clear request if necessary.
- Know you may not need them to respond. Other times we do.
Clarity, understanding, and resolution come with time, patience, tenderness and acceptance in any relationship. It takes an open heart to hear painful experiences. I can guarantee that if someone respects and/or loves you they will hear you with gentle understanding and not take it personally. And if they do take it personally, it’s not your problem. Remember it’s about you, not them.
I’m happy to say I was met with patience, love and understanding, both from myself and my partner. I moved through my truth and our relationship is better now than before.
Try it for yourself. The truth does indeed set us free.