I struggle with truth. I have learned, through years of coping mechanisms, to lie for self preservation. Some lies are little. Some lies are big. Some lies make people feel amazing. Some lies hurt people so badly, it's hard to even face them.
(Just a side note, as I re-read this paragraph, I started to think "wow, people are going to think I'm a monster. Maybe I should use an easier word...fib, stretch the truth, exaggerations, white lies...how can I make this seem less ugly? Alas, being truthful about being truthful makes me feel very, very, very vulnerable!)
In order to survive, I learned at a very early age to watch people carefully and react to them the way I thought they wanted me to act. When I was a child it was about being a good girl, assessing my parents' or teachers' moods and trying to diffuse awkward emotions. As a teenager, it was about saying what I needed to say to be liked by the "right people". As a young professional, I learned how to pass quickly through the ranks by saying exactly what needed to be said in any given meeting, sales pitch or presentation. I became an expert at reading a room and adjusting my speech and convictions accordingly. As a Mom, I know how to make a good excuse to get out of participating in the PTO. Let's say I didn't always speak my truth.
( "No, being in the PTO makes me feel like a shitty Mom because I work, and I don't have time to bedazzle folders, but I'll write you a check for anything you need." )
I lost my own truth, beliefs, and moral compass in order to "fit in."
These lies became such a big part of how I moved through the world, that they ceased to become lies. They were just 'half-truths' or 'exaggerations' to make a story more colorful. Naturally, I have very colorful language, and before I knew it I lost my own truth, my own opinions. I justified my fibs, as I felt that they kept me safe and protected. No one got hurt, but no one knew how I really felt. Seemed like a good trade.
Now, in my fourth decade, as I study more about my own spirituality, my own soul, going deep into Tantric yoga, I am coming to see how these lies and exaggerations are actually incredibly toxic. Not just to others, but to myself.
Because when we don't speak out truth, we lose ourselves.
Have you ever tried to spend an entire day telling the truth, like for real? Really telling people what you think and how you feel, reacting the way you want to act regardless of how others might react to it? It's really fucking hard.
I recently met someone who does this (so I know it's possible!) She is European, so she's got a dead sexy accent that somehow covers up her incredibly direct and sometimes painful observations. "Those glasses make your face look enormous, " she said to me recently. And "When are you going to stop making excuses for yourself and get your ass up and do something." Ouch. But it was the truth and it motivated me. She wasn't mean-hearted, she was just speaking her truth. Direct. Calm. Open. Truth.
Her honesty was sincere and somehow I was so drawn to how open she was with her own thoughts. She didn't give a hot damn about how other people react to her. She radiated self-confidence. This seems to be the root of self confidence to me. Valuing yourself and your own opinion so much that you don't need to base your worth on someone else's reaction.
I'm not suggesting that we run around telling people they look fat in those jeans, or their hair color makes them look drab. I know there has to be civility and kindness and consideration for people. At the same time, the more we don't speak our own truth, the farther away from our souls we get. This is the root of so much anxiety and depression in the world, in my opinion.
In the Yoga Sutras, we learn about satya, or truthfulness as one of the spiritual disciplines of yoga. I teach this concept, I tell people to open their throat chakras up and allow their own truth to come forward, I value truthfulness in others. The idea of satya is to avoid distortion in your life. By not being true to our thoughts and actions, we distort the reality of our own existence.
It's not easy to tell the truth. It takes courage and backbone and confidence. It takes knowing yourself well enough to set boundaries and keep them. It takes bravery to live life this way.
I am making a concentrated effort to tell the truth. I am going to try to have the courage and confidence to speak my heart. How 'bout you?