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Title: Telling Truth…or Not Author: Margaret Paul, Ph.D. E-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org Copyright: © 2003 by Margaret Paul Web Address: http://www.innerbonding.com Word Count: 1513 Category: Relationships
TELLING THE TRUTH...OR NOT By Margaret Paul, Ph.D.
Having counseled individuals, couples, families and business partners for past 35 years, I have often encountered people struggling in their relationships about whether or not to tell their truth to someone important to them.
Deciding whether or not we choose to speak our truth needs to come from our own honesty with ourselves about why we are speaking truth. Truth can enhance or destroy a relationship, depending upon intent.
There are times when telling your "truth" is unloving. For example, you might not be wild about what your friend is wearing, but if your friend is giving an important presentation and asks you how she (or he) looks, it would not be in anyone's highest good to give your opinion. Opinions are generally judgments and rarely contribute to good of a relationship. It is therefore very important to distinguish between opinions and truth. Too often, just because we think something is true, we assume that it is true. However, truth is a fact, not a opinion. If I am hungry, that is a fact, but how you look is my opinion.
There are times when someone might be having a hard time, and it is not fun to be around them. For example, your friend has lost a beloved person to death, and your friend is in mourning. It is not fun for you to be around grief and stress, yet telling your friend that it doesn't feel good to be around him or her would not be loving or supportive of your friend. It is very important, when telling our truth, to distinguish between being loving to ourselves and others - having our own highest good and other's highest good at heart - and making another responsible for our feelings. Telling another that, "I'm upset because you're tense and it doesn't feel good to be around you," may indicate a lack of empathy and making other responsible for your feelings.
Therefore, important thing in telling truth is to be honest with yourself about your own intent in telling your truth. Are you truly being loving to yourself and others, or are you using your truth to control another and make him or her responsible for you? Are you speaking your truth to enhance relationship, or to get other to change?
However, there are many times when speaking your truth is in your highest good and highest good of others. Yet many of us have much difficulty speaking our truth to others, especially to important others such as parents, siblings, close friends, co-workers and mates. We are afraid other person will be angry or hurt by our truth, even when we state it without judgment or blame. So we say yes when we mean no, say things are okay when they aren't, avoid difficult topics of conversation, pretend to enjoy something - food, sex, a movie, topic of conversation, way we are spending time - to avoid upsetting another. We may continue to tolerate things that are intolerable to us to avoid a conflict.
Withholding our truth can be a form of control, just as telling our truth can be a form of control. We may want to control how another feels about us and treats us. We want to make sure we don't get attacked or rejected. Often I hear my clients say, when I encourage them to tell truth, "I can't say that. He (or she) will get mad." Yes, he or she might get hurt or mad. Yet courage may mean willingness to speak your truth anyway and learn to deal with other person's response. This is part of developing an inner loving Adult self - learning to not take other person's behavior personally, learning to stay solid in our truth and allow other person to go through whatever he or she experiences in response to our truths without taking responsibility for other's feelings.
Avoiding other's hurt and anger is only one part of challenge. The other part is that we may be unwilling to know truth regarding whether or not that other person cares about what is important to us. If, for example, you tell your mate that you are unhappy with a particular aspect of your sex life, and your mate gets hurt or angry instead of wanting to understand, you might feel even worse. It feels awful to speak our truth and receive an uncaring response. The deeper feeling is one of gut-wrenching loneliness. It is deeply lonely to share something that is important to us and receive an uncaring response from some one important to us.