Truth Be Told

I came across a Gloria Steinem quote the other day and it started the wheels turning.  “The truth will set you free but first it will piss you off.”  How true is that statement?  Until the age of 30 (or thereabouts) the truth was usually something I tried to avoid in certain situations. Facing the truth was usually a SMACK – right in the center of my pride.  It was just impossible for me to face some things head on when I was called to the carpet. I ran away or avoided or denied.  In fact, I can think of many situations in which the truth would have gotten me out of pickle.  There have also been situations when too much truth may have hurt me by my own design.

Have you ever been in the wrong relationship for many reasons?  That was me in my 20s.  The people around me could see it was all wrong; yet I insisted I was happy and they had no idea what they were talking about.  It used to irritate me when someone would say, “You can’t stand it when he blinks, why are you dating him?”  The reaction inside my head was something like, “Crap I  have been found out.” Yet my outward response was to deny, deny, deny or to get defensive.  I am not entirely sure why I sat in denial of a relationship that annoyed me.  Why I spent so much time with someone who I really wanted to get away from is baffling.  However, life is about lessons and there have been quite a few on my path. To a point, I refused to accept the truth about about my nowhere fast (or in 6 years) relationship – even though everyone who said anything like, “He annoys you when he blinks” was totally spot on.  Of course, as things happen I was forced to toss denial aside because the subject of marriage eventually came up.  There was no way I would have been happy married to this man (his dream was to put me into a minivan with a bunch of soccer cleat wearing kids – if you know me, that would never suit me).  Thus I had to face the truth and be honest and tell him he would never see me walking down the aisle towards him…in any lifetime.  It took me long time to realize it is better to face the music and be honest with other person and exit gracefully.  Why lie to yourself about your happiness for the sake of a relationship? Faking anything has never been my strength thus the truth always ends up smacking me in the face.

The truth can be difficult to accept, receive, process.  Delivery is important.  How the words are linked together can make a big difference in how someone feels or how they respond to what is shared. I used have a client who treated me like I worked on his team.  We had a very good working relationship.  One day he stopped me during a conversation and said, “Alexis are we friends?” I thought about it and said, “Of course we are!”  My client said, “Then as your friend Alexis, I cannot let you walk around with that booger hanging out of your nose.”  I laugh when I think of story to this day because I appreciated the honesty and who wants to walk around greeting people with a booger?  More importantly, the delivery neither made me feel weird nor uncomfortable. The reassurance and kindness averted any awkwardness.  In the same vein if you have spinach stuck in your teeth or if your fly is down, aren’t you appreciative when you are made aware?  Even when it is a (non creepy) stranger in the line at Starbucks?  I have had people say “I feel weird telling that to someone.”  Tell the truth about the spinach leaf, help a person out. It is surely good karma!

When the light bulb switched on for me about the value of honesty and speaking the truth, it became apparent my ability to deliver the truth often resulted in what I call verbal shrapnel. The truth will set you free and I can really piss people off with it? Delivery was hardly my forte.  It took awhile to understand what I said could be poorly received or  valuable depending on the approach.  For a long time I put up a shield of words if someone hurt my feelings.  It is easy to figure out the person’s weakness and go for the achilles heel (verbally) to put the hurt back on a person.  More often than not, my shield of words would ricochet and leave a mark on the other person and on me. Upsetting a family member, offending a colleague are far from good results.  It took time to learn just expressing how I feel works much better than verbal retaliation (that whole life lesson thing again).   I remember a meeting at work during which a colleague informed me he had no idea how to do his job.  Though the words I used escape me, I probably told him he was an idiot and a waste of my time.  My choice words sent that person directly to my boss’ office at the conclusion of the meeting.  My boss later called me in to tell me my colleague was in fact inept and it was unnecessary to call him an idiot to his face. Oops.  Though my intent was to be honest, my words were quite unrefined and clearly needed a little softening of the edges.  Over time I did develop the ability to say things gently (work in progress) and discovered there are ways to tell the truth without insulting someone’s intelligence and leaving a person lying on the floor, missing a limb.

How the truth is delivered and what you do with it is an art for sure.  Shooting from the hip can be damaging and can go horribly wrong.  A thoughtful approach to words used will go far. It is a constant practice for me to think before speaking.  Though my brain works a mile a minute, stopping, then speaking has been an important lesson in many ways. This has helped me be more sensitive about what I say when providing honest insight or feedback or advice.  You catch more flies with honey as the saying goes. Throw a verbal cinder block at someone and a brick ,may come flying back or immediately or in time you will realize the damage done.  I believe in telling truth and it is something I value in my  relationships.  That said, I keep this in mind: words can be disarming and words can be weapons.  Words must be used wisely as rogue words can leave shrapnel in their wake.

Be honest and be gentle and give what you want to receive.  I agree with Gloria Steinem, the truth will set you free and sometimes it will piss you off.  However, with the right delivery, the recipient will be less likely to shoot the messenger.

Thank you for reading this blog!

 

Comments

  1. Love love this! Funny enough, this is the same lesson I was handed this week. My delivery with words has not been the best throughout the years. I have tried to pray, meditate and do yoga before handing over my heartfelt honesty. I thrive on my honest nature, it has allowed me to create business, have social circles throughout the world and have some pretty amazing experiences in my short life. Honesty, the cornerstone of my belief system. But what I found out is that my Aries personality is full of fire and when expressing myself, it comes through as a fireball at times. Burning through the bullshit but also setting the receiver on fire as well. So my words may have been heard, I am not sure they were well received at the time. So…..self reflecting ensues, how could I have said this better? I thought I was calm and did practices to ensure my gentle approach. Then I realized, this is me! I am fire, I am passion, this is who GOD created me to be. Alright, great observation now what? Self reflection again. Ok, you intuitively knew this situation or person involved in this situation could have been avoided if you spoke your truth from the start and not played down your emotions and wanting to help others, in short, sacrificing your own belief system and selling off your truth, therefore lighting a match that would take down a whole city! :-)))) Thank you Alexis for this post and helping me to clarify my thought life this week. xo

    • The Page of Aquarius says:

      Thank you for reading, Nicole 🙂 I think your delivery is a-okay when I talk to you!!! Sent you an email.

Leave a Reply