So many of us do not speak or live our truth with honesty. We might think that it’s no big deal. Sometimes it is OK or even necessary to put on a happy face, to keep your cards close to your chest, to just keep quiet and muddle on through for a bit. But, doing this continuously is ill-advised.
“How are you today?”
Except, you’re not fine.
“Let’s go for a drink tonight”
But you don’t want to go for a drink tonight.
“Can you lead this new project?”
But you’re already overwhelmed and overloaded.
When we keep hiding how we feel, saying ‘yes’ instead of ‘no’, building whole careers and lifestyles around things that don’t really fulfil us, this causes a great deal of inner pain. In an attempt to avoid conflict outside of ourselves, we end up causing a war inside ourselves.
Dr Gabor Maté’s book ‘When The Body Says No’ is full of case studies of people who were never honest about how they really felt or what they really wanted in life. And sadly, this led to much mental and physical illness for them. The distress caused by not being honest, by holding things in, by living a façade really does take its toll. It creates dis-ease. One of the top regrets on the death bed is “I wish I’d had the courage to live a life true to myself, not the life others expected of me”.
We also need to understand that what you suppress will express itself in perverse ways. Suppressed sadness can turn into a deep depression, suppressed anger can turn into harmful rage, and suppressed words turn into physical violence – against oneself or others. None of this is going to lead to health or happiness for us or the people around us. “I wish I’d had the courage to express my feelings” was also the third top regret on the deathbed.
If we want health and happiness, we must be more honest and express and live our truth.
It can be scary to be honest
What will people think of you? Will they reject or ridicule you? Will you feel ashamed, guilty or scared when you speak and live your truth? Well, in the spirit of practising what I preach – the honest answer is yes. These things may happen.
BUT, if you can just hold the line and have the courage to remain honest, a brighter, stronger, more whole, happy and healthy version of you awaits on the other side. You might notice that your whole life starts to open up.
So, here are six tips on being honest and living with more truth
1. Your intention must never be to harm another
If you want to use honesty as a way of hurting or ‘getting at’ someone else, please don’t! Maybe they hurt you and you want to hurt them back by speaking some ‘home truths’. Maybe they’re making your work life difficult and you want to tell them all the things they’re doing wrong. This won’t improve things for you or others because the underlying intention is polluted. It will just create more pain and dysfunction, push people away and you won’t truly feel better afterwards. You won’t have gained or changed.
Instead, be honest because you want to honour yourself. Be honest because you want to be at peace with yourself. You want to care for yourself. Honesty is about you nourishing yourself, not about you intentionally hurting others.
2. Be honest with yourself first
You must admit to yourself how you really feel, who you really are, what you’re really going through, how it’s affecting you, what you want, what would make you happy – and know that there’s nothing wrong with any of it. Accept yourself fully, there’s nothing wrong with you or your truth – the good, the bad and the ugly.
This self-acceptance can take time. Practise it each day, treat yourself like a child you love – with a heart-warming, unconditional, loving embrace.
3. Choose wisely who you’re honest with
Remember, not everyone needs to hear your truth. Not everyone can handle the truth! Be discerning, choose trusted others and those who may be implicated by your honesty and thus, need to hear it. E.g., you may speak up to a boss about your struggles at work, but you don’t need to tell all your colleagues about it. You may tell close friends about your dreams and what you really want in life, but you don’t need to tell that relative who always belittles you.
Your truth is sacred. Treat it as such.
4. Speak your truth even if your voice shakes
When you feel the need to express yourself and be honest, be courageous and speak the best you can. You may not feel good about it but feel the fear and do it anyway. The way out is through.
Know that the weight that lifts once you speak your truth will be replaced by a strength and resilience you didn’t know you had. And this will help you deal with whatever happens outside of you, after you speak your truth.
Also know this is a journey of growth and learning. It’s not about getting it ‘right’ or ‘perfect’. As you learn to become more honest with yourself and others, you will gain insights about yourself, about how best to communicate honestly and how others react. This will all help you on your journey towards more authenticity, health and happiness.
5. Remember that you can’t control other people
Let’s say you want a career path that your parents don’t approve of and you know that telling them the truth will likely be met with some level of disdain. Well, we must learn to let their opinions go. We must create healthy boundaries between our truth and other people’s opinions. We cannot control what others think, nor should we try to.
You wake up each day and experience your life, not them. It’s you who deals with the full consequences of your choices, not them. So, you must live your truth, for your own health, wellbeing and happiness.
6. Take it in small steps
If you hold your truth in for a long time, if for too long you’ve not been able to be honest, it may eventually erupt out of you in a damaging and unsavoury way. It’s much safer to start practising the skill of honesty now.
Just start by being a little more honest, just say one sentence to a trusted person, just kindly refuse one social outing, just spark one conversation about what’s really going on for you. As you feel the inner burden lift, you’ll feel stronger and more able to do it again when you take the next little baby step. Go easy on yourself, especially if you’ve lived a lifetime of hiding.
The truth shall set you free
Being who you truly are, following your inner wisdom, being honest, truthful and self-accepting is a truly heightened state to live in. I hope you’ll start practising it today.
To close, I’ll leave you with one of my favourite Rumi quotes that really depicts how I feel about being honest, truthful and authentic in life and it’s this:
“Take off your mask, your face is beautiful.”
Read more about Pinky Jangra and her other articles HERE
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