Humans are great hiders. We have learned, over millions of years, the difference between the face we show, and the mind we have. Politicians learn to say one thing in public, and another in private. Children learn to edit themselves, so that their carers can only hear the acceptable things. Friends learn to modify their words, so that their mutual world can seem more cosy, less threatening.
But, sooner or later, the truth breaks through. It could be when a worker faces the fact that they are no longer able to pretend that they like their work. It could be when a friend shares to the other what really irritates them. Or when a person in debt finally admits to themselves what they owe.
TENSION AND THE TRUTH
Generally, mental tension is increased by lies, and reduced by truth. In the early days of counselling, for example, a client may come into the room fraught with anxiety, unsure what they can show to the counsellor, what they can be honest about, and what they have to hide. The strain of keeping it all back adds to the strain of life in general, and the client rapidly becomes exhausted. The sheer effort of deciding what thoughts and feelings to show, and which ones to hide, is shattering.
THE DIFFICULTY IN BEING HONEST
If you’re lucky, you will find a way to tell your truth. This could be by finding a friend who will accept you with all your ‘difficult bits’. It could be by finding a professional counsellor or psychotherapist who is skilled in listening, and in allowing you to come out of your shell, and just be yourself.
Being honest relies on getting over the fear of being judged. When you are with someone who you are sure won’t judge you, then you have a better chance of being honest. This is especially true if your childhood involved hiding the truth for other people’s benefit. An abused child can learn too early the habit of keeping quiet. It can take years to lose the habit, and learn to speak up for yourself.
In your imagination, you may have a fear that something awful will happen if you disclose the truth. It is a well-founded fear, sometimes. But if you are lucky, you will find yourself in a safe place to share.
THE REWARDS OF LIVING TRUTHFULLY
In the end, though, you have a choice: to carry on living with the tension inside, or to find a way to be your more authentic self in other people’s company.
Here are five rewards of being more authentic:
MORE FREEDOM: The world around you adapts to how you are, and makes room for your expressed self
MORE ENERGY: You spend less energy on censoring yourself, and filtering your every response to the world
MORE SLEEP: You sleep better, because, having shared, you are not staying awake managing it all inside your mind
MORE COMFORT: You can speak, move, dress and interact in a way that feels natural for you – this is more comfortable
MORE LOVE: You feel more loved, because you know that people who love you have accepted more of who you are
This is not an excuse to blab your truth without caring for others at all.
There are ways to express yourself with freedom, without damaging other people’s happiness too much. If they are too offended by who you are, then you may have to stay away from some people. For others, you might have to tone yourself down a bit while they get used to you.
The main thing is to be truthful wisely. It is like being an artist: there is a skill you can develop.
Today, have a go at being a more relaxed version of yourself.
When you experience a tension, ask yourself: ‘Is this tension happening because I feel unable to share my honest response?’
Then take a little risk. Dare to share what you are thinking. Be polite, but don’t shirk the sharing bit.
Certainly use wisdom in whom you choose to share with, and how. But dare to try a little harder to show your wonderful self.
Hopefully you will receive, for your troubles, a better sense of freedom, energy, sleep, comfort and love.
If not, it may be time to reselect a few friends!
Humans learn early to hide their true, authentic selves. It causes tremendous inner tension.
It can be very difficult to let your true self be known, but the rewards can be great in terms of freedom, energy, sleep, comfort and love.
Being truthful is definitely an art, but if you learn it well, it can serve you well.